Abstract Artist Career Profile

Abstract artists require no formal education for their careers. Learn about the training, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

In order to succeed as an abstract artist, training in artistic techniques, art history, critical theory and focused practice are often necessary. These skills and abilities may be honed through a postsecondary degree program in the fine arts, which is not required for employment but typically available at multiple degree levels. Those who have an interest in abstract art may consider a career as an art teacher to supplement income from the sales of their abstract artwork. Public school art teachers of elementary, middle and high school students need a bachelor's degree; state certification and licensing requirements may apply.

Required Education None; optional degree programs available
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 4% for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators*
Median Annual Salary (2013) $42,610 for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile of an Abstract Artist

Job Description

Abstract artists use shapes, lines, color and non-traditional imagery to make an artistic statement and express a truth about the human condition. They may work with paint, clay, stone or found objects. Many abstract artists feel that their chosen art form allows expression of emotions in the moment without hesitation, creating a truly personal piece of artwork. Some may earn respectable livings displaying their art in galleries and selling pieces to museums and private collectors.

Job Requirements

Successful artists must be dedicated to their work. Great art doesn't happen overnight, and professional abstract artists should be willing to put in the long hours and even weeks, months and years needed to produce quality artwork. They'll need to be open to instruction and suggestions from others. They should also be well versed in the works of artists who came before them and what makes successful art timeless.

Career Outlook

Like most clichés, the image of the starving artist holds some truth. Many artists have trouble earning a living wage solely based on their work and may only be able to pursue their art as a hobby. Those with art degrees may be able to find related careers as art critics or educators. These positions allow them to use their skills while earning a more dependable income. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, could expect an 4% growth in employment from 2012-2022, which was lower than average.

Educational Requirements

Artistic careers don't necessarily require any special education. There are great artists who never finished high school. However, abstract artists can benefit from the professional mentoring and assistance in creating a portfolio found through formal education programs.

Associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in fine arts and art history are available to budding artists; these can provide them opportunities to master techniques and styles, as well as develop their own creative voices. In these programs, students may explore art, art criticism, mixed media and color theory. Additionally, they may review the work of early abstract artists, such as Mondrian, Kandinsky and Malevish, as well as more contemporary figures.

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    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
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