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Working as a Lead Artist

A lead artist's primary responsibility is to guide the artists on a project in order to maintain the vision and quality set by the art director during pre-production.

Lead artists handle the technical aspects of the art team such as art processes, tools, geometric budgets, texture budgets, task definitions, and scheduling of tasks. They also communicate with the lead programmer and the producer to identify risk in the production pipeline. The lead takes the burden of artist management and protects the art team from counter-productivity. Qualifications for the position include a high school diploma or a GED along with experience in a related field. However, individuals with a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in fine arts or a related field may be given preference. Essential skills include interpersonal, organizational, creativity, and communication.

The average hourly salary for the position is $53.34, which equates to $110,940 annually. The career is expected to grow in the near future and create new job opportunities across the United States.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a lead artist. For example, did you know that they make an average of $53.34 an hour? That's $110,940 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 4% and produce 3,000 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Lead Artist Do

There are certain skills that many lead artists have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed artistic talent, communication skills and computer skills.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a lead artist, we found that a lot of resumes listed 14.4% of lead artists included maya, while 9.9% of resumes included portfolio, and 8.4% of resumes included art direction. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the lead artist job title. But what industry to start with? Most lead artists actually find jobs in the technology and retail industries.

How To Become a Lead Artist

If you're interested in becoming a lead artist, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 64.0% of lead artists have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 9.7% of lead artists have master's degrees. Even though most lead artists have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a lead artist. When we researched the most common majors for a lead artist, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on lead artist resumes include master's degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a lead artist. In fact, many lead artist jobs require experience in a role such as artist. Meanwhile, many lead artists also have previous career experience in roles such as 3d artist or senior artist.

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Average Salary$110,940
Job Growth Rate4%

Lead Artist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Lead Artist

Artist
24.5 %
3D Artist
10.9 %

Top Careers After Lead Artist

Artist
19.5 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Lead Artist

Lead Artists in America make an average salary of $110,940 per year or $53 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $158,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $77,000 per year.
Average Salary
$110,940

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Seattle, WA
Salary Range101k - 165k$130k$129,721
Glendale, AZ
Salary Range92k - 157k$121k$120,665
Novato, CA
Salary Range84k - 139k$109k$108,792
Austin, TX
Salary Range78k - 136k$104k$103,885
New York, NY
Salary Range72k - 136k$99k$99,419
Portland, OR
Salary Range67k - 109k$86k$85,660
$49k
$165k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Lead Character Artist
Lead Character Artist
Randstad
Randstad
09/03/2020
09/03/2020
$100,00009/03/2020
$100,000
Lead Character Artist
Lead Character Artist
2K Games, Inc.
2K Games, Inc.
03/20/2019
03/20/2019
$121,97503/20/2019
$121,975
Lead VFX Artist
Lead VFX Artist
Activision Publishing, Inc.
Activision Publishing, Inc.
02/27/2019
02/27/2019
$126,39002/27/2019
$126,390
Lead Character Artist
Lead Character Artist
Activision Publishing, Inc.
Activision Publishing, Inc.
02/27/2019
02/27/2019
$147,50002/27/2019
$147,500
Lead Props Artist
Lead Props Artist
Activision Publishing, Inc.
Activision Publishing, Inc.
11/09/2018
11/09/2018
$111,42511/09/2018
$111,425
See More Recent Salaries

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Lead Artist Demographics

Gender

male

65.7 %

female

29.6 %

unknown

4.7 %

Ethnicity

White

73.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

11.7 %

Asian

8.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

48.6 %

German

8.6 %

Japanese

8.6 %
See More Demographics

Lead Artist Education

Majors

Animation
16.6 %
Fine Arts
15.0 %

Degrees

Bachelors

64.0 %

Associate

14.0 %

Masters

9.7 %

Top Colleges for Lead Artists

1. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

5. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

6. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

7. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

8. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

9. Northeastern University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,522
Enrollment
13,760

10. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Lead Artist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 14.4% of lead artists listed maya on their resume, but soft skills such as artistic talent and communication skills are important as well.

Best States For a Lead Artist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a lead artist. The best states for people in this position are Nevada, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine. Lead artists make the most in Nevada with an average salary of $136,451. Whereas in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, they would average $133,755 and $132,973, respectively. While lead artists would only make an average of $132,838 in Maine, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Nevada

Total Lead Artist Jobs:
15
Highest 10% Earn:
$213,000
Location Quotient:
1.83
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Washington

Total Lead Artist Jobs:
69
Highest 10% Earn:
$198,000
Location Quotient:
2.06
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. New Hampshire

Total Lead Artist Jobs:
5
Highest 10% Earn:
$218,000
Location Quotient:
0.7
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Lead Artist Employers

1. Electronic Arts
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$124,820
Lead Artists Hired: 
16+
2. Microsoft
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$161,137
Lead Artists Hired: 
13+
3. Activision Blizzard
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$120,091
Lead Artists Hired: 
12+
4. Subway
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$97,973
Lead Artists Hired: 
11+
5. GSN Games
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$93,022
Lead Artists Hired: 
8+
6. Artcom
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$98,287
Lead Artists Hired: 
5+

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