Careers

Hourly Jobs That Can Prepare You for a Career in the Arts

Debby Hudson

As with any other career, pursuing a future in the arts takes time, persistence, grit, dedication and hard work. And as with any other career, you have to lay both the practical and theoretical groundwork before building said career. Whether or not you are familiar with the options yet, you know that showing motivation and necessary skills are keys for success in any field. As such, you want to be intentional about the options you consider. Below, I've listed seven opportunities that will allow you to flex your creative muscles, explore career options in the arts, cultivate meaningful relationships and gain skills to design a career you love and enjoy.


1. Assistant Positions in Arts Organizations

If you are passionate about art, you probably already visit museums, galleries and studios to browse diverse artworks or attend special exhibitions and events. Why not make the engagement more meaningful by pursuing positions in those organizations? This is an obvious choice that will expose you to a variety of careers in the arts and help you develop the understanding and skill set needed to navigate that world. Such places often look for assistants to support full-time staff and execute a number of administrative and creative tasks. Depending on your geographical location, you may have access to opportunities both on and off campus. You may also want to check out options at auction houses, theaters or cultural centers. When possible, explore a diverse set of places to determine which may fit you best.

These roles place you in an environment where you are surrounded by art and where you have access to professionals who understand and appreciate art. Such exposure can help you enhance your knowledge of art as well as become a better artist, whatever your specific interest may be. You may also gain insight into taking care of artwork and curating exhibitions so you can hone your art installation abilities. Most importantly, you will develop communication skills.

2. Teaching Assistant | Teacher | Facilitator

Another great way to strengthen your skills and determine if a career in the arts is for you is to teach others, in a traditional classroom or by facilitating workshops. To explore opportunities, check with local schools or organizations to see if they are in need of your energy, creativity and passion for art. If you are still in school, you may also want to explore the option of becoming a teaching assistant for an instructor in the art department.

The roles of a teacher or a teaching assistant strengthen your ability to both talk about and create art. You may also get to connect with established artists and develop a much-needed network as you make your first steps in the field. Your instructor can also become a mentor, and having a mentor is of benefit to any young professional. The best part is that you can explore a variety of subjects through teaching: art history, any art form (painting, drawing, pottery, etc.), graphic design or illustration.

3. Sales Associate, Art Supply Store

A role as a sales associate can be of value to you regardless of your target career, but if a career in the arts is of specific interest, you may want to be more intentional about the sales opportunities you pursue by joining a local art supply store. Such an opportunity will help you polish your customer service skills, strengthen your ability to cultivate meaningful relationships and allow you to practice your knowledge of and excitement about art materials. Not to mention that depending on your employer, you may be eligible for staff discounts, something young professionals can appreciate when taking their first steps in a career that often requires significant financial commitment to purchase all required materials.

4. Summer Camp Leader

If, in addition to having a passion for art, you also love the outdoors and working with children, this may be the perfect summer role for you. A role as an arts and crafts summer camp leader can be a great opportunity to put your skills to the test and use them to inspire, excite and tell stories. Those targeting full-time careers in teaching, art therapy or theater as well as those aspiring to manage their own creative businesses will find this role invaluable. You will strengthen your organizational and communication skills as well as your expertise in overseeing projects (such as art competitions).

5. Art Model

If you want access to the art world, you may consider becoming an art model. The role requires posing in front of an art class, a workshop or an artist for up to 30 minutes at a time, and aspiring actors or models aren't the only ones who should consider the option. The opportunity allows you to stay connected to the art world and even helps you observe artists and their processes. Not to mention that art modeling is a better way to make a paycheck while you are working on a degree or building a skill set for a target career. A quick review of salaries on Glassdoor reveals that art models can make up to $30 per hour.

6. Graphic Design Contract Positions

If you envision a career that is more digital in nature -- a career that combines your interests in art and technology -- this is an option to help you hone your computer graphics program skills while you are still in college. To explore what's possible, check out popular job search sites like Indeed and SimplyHired for entry-level roles, but also reach out to local businesses and organizations to identify needs you may be able to help them meet. Graphic design contract roles can often be remote, which will allow for flexibility in your already busy schedule.

7. Side Hustle

Before you can design a successful career as an artist, you'll want to spend time improving your artistic skills, experimenting with different mediums and connecting with others who will expose you to options you may not have even considered. A side hustle may be the perfect option to do just that, especially if you are already making art. You can pursue the side hustle while also attending college art courses or while working full time in another role.

To sell your work, consider both building your own website and attending local craft shows. Choosing to create and sell your own work takes initiative and hard work as well as excellent social media, branding, marketing and communication skills, which will come in handy no matter what you choose to do next.

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