So, you’ve set your sights on a career in art — fantastic! Now, how do you transform that dream into a reality?
Art careers are dynamic and competitive, and the right art degree from the right school can be the game-changer that sets you apart and propels you toward success.
Let’s break down the steps to not only chart a successful college experience but also pave the way for a fulfilling career in the arts.
STEP 1: FIND A MAJOR
Choosing a major is the cornerstone of your art education journey. Starting college as “undecided” or switching majors can cost you time and money. The MyMajors College Major Assessment (mymajors.com) is a valuable tool supported by the National Science Foundation that recommends your top 10 best-fit majors. Research these majors further to make an informed decision.
STEP 2: EXPLORE SCHOOLS
It’s hard to overstate the importance of doing your homework while deciding on a college. You will want a school that helps build a foundation for your career as an artist, challenging you, improving your skills, expanding your mind and inspiring you to take your art to the next level.
The MyMajors College Search connects you to more than 7,500 schools. Consider factors like location, environment, school type (art school or university), faculty and costs when refining your search.
STEP 3: GET SOME EXPERIENCE
Art schools offer pre-college art and portfolio programs tailored for students like you. These programs provide a platform to build your portfolio and gain hands-on experience under the guidance of faculty.
STEP 4: BUILD A PORTFOLIO
Your portfolio is your visual introduction — an artistic narrative. Craft it meticulously, showcasing your best work. Treat it like a visual interview, telling the story of you as an artist.
STEP 5: APPLY TO SCHOOLS
Apply early to your chosen schools. Check application deadlines and ensure all required documents are submitted well in advance. A well-drafted college entrance essay or personal statement is essential for a compelling application.
Read more about drafting a college entrance essay or personal statement on p. 43.
STEP 6: APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID
Creativity extends to financing your education. Research financial aid options, including loans, grants and scholarships. Start by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at studentaid.gov.
STEP 7: INTERNSHIPS
Internships bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application. Seek guidance from your school advisor and professors to find available internships. These experiences not only hone your skills but also provide invaluable insights from mentors.
“Students entering the professional world with a mentorship experience under their belts may hold a significant advantage over students who have not had such an opportunity,” said Jon diVenti, Department Chair, Digital Media, Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. “Not only will they learn practical ‘insider’ tips and techniques specific to their individual disciplines, but they will often have the unique (and possibly even more valuable) fortune of learning from the mentor’s personal journey — the mistakes, triumphs and things they wish they knew at the outset of their careers. This personal interaction between the student and mentor can be priceless.”
To get started finding an internship, check in with your school advisor and your professors. Many schools post available internships for students and sometimes professors know about internships that aren’t on the school’s job posting site.