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Visual Art Schools: Visual Arts College and School, Visual Arts Colleges Degree

Visual arts schools prepare students for a rewarding career in the field of studio art by offering specialized courses in painting, drawing, ceramics, sculptures and photography. A visual arts college may offer several specialized degree programs so that students can build and maintain a working portfolio, gain hands-on experience in their field and obtain the foundational skills and knowledge to make their own creative projects.

Most of the curriculum at visual art school is designed around creating and maintain a portfolio; different visual arts schools have varying requirements on the number of hours or assignments needed for portfolio building, but almost all schools and colleges require the completion of one semester of portfolio study.

What to Expect at Visual Arts School

Visual art school programs are typically divided into fine arts and modern media. Fine arts programs and courses are ‘traditional' art forms such as painting, sculptures, photography and drawing. Modern media arts training may include digital photography, intermedia, textiles and ceramics. Almost all visual arts college programs offer several courses in each of these areas, in addition to instruction for maintaining and using equipment and training for a career in the industry.

Some visual arts schools incorporate an internship or apprenticeship component into their program, allowing students the opportunity to train with a professional instructor or artist in their field. This can help the student build their portfolio, receive feedback and criticism from a professional artist, and adapt new skills and techniques so that they can reach their full potential.

The most common programs and courses of study for a visual arts degree program include:

  • Foundational Art and Design

  • Liberal Arts

  • Fine Arts

  • Photography

  • Graphic Design

  • Interactive Design/Media

  • Illustration

  • Interdisciplinary Art and Design

Visual arts schools and colleges may also offer internship services and job placement opportunities for students and graduates, making the transition from school to the working world much smoother. Internships allow students to develop professional skills in their industry, pursue grants and scholarships, and take part in practice interview sessions to prepare for their careers.

Visual Arts Degree Courses and Educational Programs

Students who wish to complete a visual arts degree program will need a high school diploma or GED to enroll in visual arts school, and can then take courses such as:

Students that want to complete a Bachelor's of Fine Art degree typically need to complete foundational courses in a Bachelor of Art degree program and then pursue courses such as:

  • History of Renaissance to Modern Art

  • Ancient and Medieval Art

  • Humanities

  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

  • Studio Work

Studio work makes up the bulk of a Bachelor of Fine Art degree program, allowing students to work in an artist studio setting and create their portfolio. Bachelor's degree programs in the visual arts field are available at most colleges and universities around the country, but a visual arts college or school may offer more specialized courses and a more attractive learning environment.

Many visual arts colleges also offer adult or returning student programs, as well as pre-college programs for students who want to enroll in foundational courses before finishing high school.

Career Options After Visual Art School

Visual arts schools provide a solid foundation for pursuing a rewarding career in the area of fine arts, history and even the media industry and there are several career options and paths to choose from. Since artists are trained to communicate ideas and emotions using different mediums, they can explore careers working in a museum, art studio or gallery, or even work independently to create their own set of paintings, sculptures and illustrations. Those who decide to work for a company or business may explore fields in advertising and media, or work as artists for building and restoration projects.

Students who choose to transfer their skills to electronic mediums may find attractive career options in digital media and digital art, graphic design or even advertising. The ability to transfer creative skills to different mediums allows many graduates of visual arts schools to pursue diverse opportunities and careers in a variety of industries.

The most common career options for those who hold a visual arts degree include:

  • Art Director
  • Craft Artist
  • Fine Artists
  • Multimedia Artists
  • Animation Specialists
  • Graphic Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Cartoonists
  • Print Makers

Positions in the field exist in the publishing, design, motion picture and advertising industries, and may graduates of visual arts schools enter the field as entry-level artists or creative designers, and can then work their way up to take on a leadership role.

Visual Arts Degree: Career and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook, almost 62 percent of artists and related workers are self-employed. Many graduates of a visual art school may decide to pursue an independent lifestyle or work on a freelance basis to secure projects and offer their services to different organizations and companies. However, well-established artists may be able to rely on an income from selling their art or work for an organization as a salaried artist.

Median annual earnings of salaried art directors were $68,100, $24,090 for salaried craft artists, $41,790 for salaried fine artists and $51,350 for multi-media artists and animators in May 2006. Earnings vary significantly based on talent, experience and location of the hiring organization or company.

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