5 Alternative Art Careers to Stay Creative and Move Beyond the Studio

When you’ve attended art school—or even just decided to pursue a career in the arts—it’s easy to box yourself into one type of job. But making a living as a painter, sculpture, or installation artist via the traditional gallery system isn’t the right choice for everyone.

Luckily, as a creative individual, there are many careers where your artistic skills can translate into a satisfying career. Though it may seem as though the options are limited, a close look reveals many different types of employment where artistic skills are a plus.

Of course, some careers will require additional education or training, but with an open mind and a creative heart, you’ll realize that artistry can lead to many different paths.

Let’s look at five innovative art careers that will allow you to express your creativity while making a living.

Makeup Artist

More than ever makeup is being recognized for its artistry, with makeup artists gaining huge followings on social media for their wild creations. Whether working on high fashion shoots, film sets, or helping the bride get ready for her big day, there is a huge variety of places to show off your skills and styles of work. For instance, makeup artist Andrea Reed uses her lips as a canvas for her artwork, while Mimi Choi is known for her precise illusions created with makeup.

Salary range (United States): $20,693 – $101,228


Tattoo Artist

If you aren't squeamish about needles, tattooing is a perfect way to bring your art to life in an innovative way. From watercolor tattoos to hyperrealistic portraits, there is a style of tattoo for every artist. In fact, many tattoo artists work—like Scott Campbell—both in the fine art world and tattoo world, allowing you to your you feet in both arenas. In order to get started, you'll need to look into local licensing requirements, which vary by country and state. The Alliance of Professional Tattooists is a good start in the United States—they recommend a minimum three-year apprenticeship in order to learn the equipment and begin safely working as a tattoo artist. UK-based artists may want to look for information via the British Tattoo Artists Federation.

Salary range (United States): $18,500 – $267,737


Futuracha Pro Typeface font designer

Futuracha Pro Typeface by Odysseas Galinos Paparounis. READ MORE: Designer Creates Whimsical New Font That Changes Shape as You Type

Typography Designer

If lettering and design spark your interest, you may consider specializing in font design. When you think about how pervasive typography is—from the lettering on packaging to computer fonts—there is no limit to how creative you can get with letters. Considered a subset of graphic design, many typography experts have degrees in the field. Some end up working for large companies, others freelance—creating fonts on commission or trying their hand on the retail market by offering up fonts for sale. If something more manual intrigues you, there's also a big trend in hand lettering, both with large corporations and small commercial spaces looking to brighten up their design.

Salary range (United States):  $44,430 – $96,500

art careers textile designer

Textile Designer

Ever wonder who designs the incredible patterns you see on fabric? A textile designer, of course. If color, pattern, and graphics intrigue you, this may be the right industry. Designers typically work either with fashion or interior textiles, creating the repeating graphics that cover myriad fabrics. Some are freelancers, while others work as part of a larger design team to create the perfect effect desired. Artists who are able to take direction from clients, translating their ideas and turning them into creative textiles, will thrive in this environment. To succeed, designers also need to be familiar with a wide variety of textiles and be skilled in CAD. Textiles aren't your thing? You may also consider looking into wallpaper design.

Salary range (United States): $35,664 – $81,825

how to become a concept artist

Architectural concept art by Alex Hogrefe. READ MORE: Breathtaking Architectural Concept for a Cliffside Retreat in Iceland

Concept Artist

Interested in film, video games, or architecture? A key part of the team in these fields is the concept artist, who works with the art team to create illustrations of what will become the final project. This may entail realistic renderings of architectural projects or with a pre-production team to analyze a film script and breath visual life into written descriptions. The work of concept artists can have a great effect on the final product. For instance, the concepts by Disney illustrator Tyrus Wong were an integral part of the final look for the beloved film Bambi.

Salary range (United States): $31,860 – $81,250


Related Articles:

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5 Ideas for Creative Side Hustles You Can Start Today

How to Write an Artist Statement and Effectively Introduce Your Work to the World

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Freelance Business

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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