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Watercolor Artist: Career Profile

Watercolor artists are painters who specialize in the medium for which they're named. They often work in studios and may sell their pieces in art galleries. Although a formal education isn't required to pursue this path, many artists hone their skills and techniques while completing fine arts degree programs.

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Career Profile for a Watercolor Artist

Watercolor artists create 2-D representations of realistic or abstract scenes or items with paints that are not oil-based. They combine knowledge of color, texture, perspective, space and other visual design principles with creative and technical abilities to create compelling or evocative works of art. Some watercolor artists produce their paintings in commercial art studios, while others work in home studios or share studio space with other artists. Upon completion of a finished piece, watercolor artists may display their work in art galleries. Making a living as a watercolor artist is often extremely challenging, and many professionals also hold jobs in other fields to supplement their incomes.

Education Requirements

Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts programs provide an opportunity for watercolor artists to hone their existing skills, learn new techniques and access social networks. Some schools offer degrees or concentrations specifically in watercolor, while others provide watercolor training as part of a broader visual arts degree program. Fine arts degree programs combine classroom instruction with studio hours giving students the opportunity to learn art theory and history while they develop their techniques and build their portfolios. Coursework in business or related areas may also benefit watercolor artists by providing them with an understanding of the marketplace and how to sell their artwork.

Employment Outlook

Although there's a high level of competition for jobs, highly skilled and talented watercolor artists are often able to find a market for their completed projects, but may not be able to support themselves entirely through their art. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that employment for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, would grow by 8% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for fine artists was $44,850 in May 2012. Artistic individuals may also consider careers as graphic designers, whose median annual salary was $44,150, or as multimedia artists and animators, who earned $61,370 as of 2012.

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    Areas of study you may find at Northern Arizona University include:
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