By Rosilee Russell
Times Record, November 24, 2017 —
You may remember that we have been talking about studying the arts in college and things to consider as you prepare. Now, you have completed a college arts degree. What next?
There was a time when getting a position in the arts was difficult because there weren’t that many jobs. I used to tell my students to be thinking about a backup plan. Well, that has changed because the world has changed, and that has impacted arts, education and the job market.
Without a doubt, there are at least two major factors that have revolutionized the arts world. First, there is the explosion of technology in our society that has literally transformed most of the art forms. For example, the traditional forms of visual art and music, such as painting, sculpting and composition have experienced a complete sea change to digital media like graphic design, animation, web creation and digital music. In fact, the digital age has made arts careers virtually limitless in possibilities. If you look at the graphics and visual effects on a station like ESPN, or go to a Disney Pixar movie, or play a video game with its graphics and music, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
The second major change is the shift in direction in higher education to include degree programs built around the pop arts culture. For example, it is now possible to get a degree in rock music or contemporary Christian. The degrees in technology and marketing are also following this cultural shift. In addition, it is becoming very common to place less emphasis on formal education. In some arts fields, a bachelor’s or master’s degree is sufficient.
Today, I’m pleased to tell you that there are many more opportunities for college graduates to find good jobs in the arts. In other words, it is now possible for artists to find good jobs that provide security and the chance to do something that you love.
So, let’s look at some of the various arts fields and let me give a short list that is by no means exhaustive of all of the opportunities.
In the area of visual arts, there will always be artists and teachers. Beyond this, there are areas such as the following: art consultant, art coordinator, art dealer, art director, museum or gallery director, fashion designer, motion graphic designer, videographer and video producer, film editor, multi-media designer, web designer, industrial design, interior designer, design engineer, advertising designer, consultant, buyer, sales representative and much more.
In the field of theatre arts, there are jobs such as playwright, makeup artist, stunt performer, technical director, set designer, stage manager, drama coach, critic, lighting, scenic design, educator, producer, prop manager, technical writer, director and of course actor.
Then there is the wonderful world of dance. In today’s world, this field is very broad. Students in dance explore all forms including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, historical forms, ethnic dance and choreography. Careers include choreographer, director, instructor, dance therapist, dance academy proprietor, acrobat, stunt performer and of course dancer.
Music is a very broad field with many areas to choose from. In fact, those of us in music each have our area of expertise which is very specialized, much like the medical profession. Studies in music can range from education to history to performance to composition to theory. Careers include arranger, composer, music coach, accompanist, studio musician, director, producer, orchestra conductor, musicologist and professional musician, just to name a few.
One other area that I would like to mention is the area of culinary arts. This is becoming a hugely popular art form, and even children are getting into it. In order to work in this industry, it is important to go through formal training. Programs for this type of training are offered at culinary arts schools as well as some two and four-year colleges. A culinary student typically has the opportunity to complete an internship while in school so that he can gain hands-on experience. Careers in this field include executive chef, executive sous chef, instructor, pastry cook/lead baker, production chef, culinary product developer and restaurant owner.
As you can see, there really are many career paths in the arts, and I have certainly not explored nearly all of the opportunities. It is now possible to not only have a career in an arts field, but also to be paid well for your skills. This is great news for all of the creative students out there who love the arts but wondered if they could follow their passion for a career.
Dr. Rosilee Russell is the founder/executive director of Community School of the Arts.