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Art has the ability to connect people across cultures, to communicate messages, to inspire change and open minds. Artists are the marker of a healthy society, and if you are passionate about and talented at creating art, a major in the visual arts may be right for you.
Visual arts majors learn traditional forms of art production in media such as painting, drawing, digital imaging, sculpting and photography. Students begin by taking lower-level courses in the fundamentals of these media, gaining practical skills in producing their own art. As the major continues, they develop their own individualized styles with an understanding of historical traditions. Many major programs require students to study art history as part of their coursework, and students will often analyze the works and achievements of individual artists.
Throughout the process, students grow as creators, but they also gain many other skills. One is communication, as students will need to justify and present their artistic choices. They will develop an eye for art, engaging in critical evaluation of peers’ works and the works of renowned artists. In taking and applying criticism, they will be better prepared to process judgement in their personal and professional lives.
Many art majors become artists in their own right. They paint, draw, sculpt, or photograph independently, selling their works to collectors, patrons, galleries, and museums. Often, artists may be found doing caricatures at amusement parks, being hired to photograph weddings or graduation ceremonies, painting portraits for families, opening their own galleries to sell works, or doing commissioned work.
Other artists may choose to work for a single company. They may become cartoonists, animators, illustrators, or other types of artists in a variety of fields. For example, a graduate may find work at a film production company in designing or animating characters for a movie. Another may design sets for either film or theatre productions. Other artists work with police departments to create drawings of suspects from witness descriptions. Graduates may become political cartoonists for a newspaper, or work at an ad agency designing materials for a variety of clients or within a single company designing ads. Majors could even use their skills in producing materials for nonprofits or political campaigns.
Some students may choose to focus less on their own art production and more on skills gained in analyzing and critiquing art. Some may become art critics, museum curators selecting art pieces to display at a museum, or journalists with an art beat. Others may choose to work as talent agents or art preservationists. Art preservationists work to preserve older and more delicate works of art; this requires an understanding of science as well as art. Typically they work for museums. Some art majors may pursue art history and become historians or curators specializing in older styles of art.
Students with an interest in therapy may receive further degrees and become art therapists. Art therapists work with patients to help them improve cognitive abilities, relieve stress, rehabilitate from an injury or traumatic experience, or communicate in ways that they may not be able to verbally. Art therapists work with a variety of ages and demographics, but some examples of clients are veterans with PTSD, patients at hospitals, patients at psychiatric and rehabilitation centers, and seniors.
Other art majors become teachers. Typically, art studios conduct classes with both serious and non-serious students. However, graduates could also work with greater talent levels as a fine arts teacher at high schools and universities. This job type would require an interest in education and working with people, and may require more advanced degrees.
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