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Become A Visual Artist

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Working As A Visual Artist

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Visual Artist Do

Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, animation, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Duties

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation
  • Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animations
  • Develop storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Edit animations and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
  • Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development time lines

Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.

Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.

Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.

Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a wide variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.

Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.

Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance work.

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How To Become A Visual Artist

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.

Education

Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.

Training

Some animation studios have their own software and computer applications that they use to create films, and they often provide on-the-job training so that workers can use the specific software and computer applications.

Important Qualities

Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.

Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a complex team and respond well to criticism and feedback.

Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work.

Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.

Time-management skills. The hours required by most studio and game design companies can be long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to manage their time effectively when a deadline approaches.

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Visual Artist Career Paths

Visual Artist
Concept Artist Lead Artist Art Director
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Concept Artist Art Director
Creative Director
5 Yearsyrs
Concept Artist Art Director Director
Founder And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Manager Owner
Co-Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Manager Office Manager
Administrative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Supervisor Property Manager Communications Manager
Communications Director
6 Yearsyrs
Owner Creative Director
Senior Creative Director
8 Yearsyrs
Owner Director Creative Director
Creative Director & Designer
5 Yearsyrs
Video Editor Manager Principal
Design Director
7 Yearsyrs
Video Editor Production Manager Creative Director
Chief Creative Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Video Editor Production Manager Construction Manager
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Production Manager Production Director
Creative Services Director
7 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Director Producer Director
Freelance Art Director
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Manager Marketing Manager Marketing Manager/Project Manager
Creative Services Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Storyboard Artist Character Animator Designer
Senior Graphic Designer
5 Yearsyrs
Storyboard Artist Designer/Illustrator Senior Designer
Senior User Experience Designer
8 Yearsyrs
Storyboard Artist Designer/Illustrator Senior Graphic Designer
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Graphic Designer Studio Manager Traffic Manager
Freelance Project Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Graphic Designer Senior Web Designer
Creative Lead
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Faculty Artist
Senior Artist
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Visual Artist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Designer/Artist 4.3 years
Senior Artist 4.2 years
Visual Artist 3.0 years
Lead Artist 2.9 years
Animation Artist 2.7 years
Artist 2.6 years
3D Artist 2.0 years
Concept Artist 1.9 years
Artist Assistant 1.8 years
Storyboard Artist 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Visual Artist
Artist 11.6%
Internship 9.0%
Instructor 4.5%
Animator 4.1%
Server 3.6%
3D Artist 3.6%
Director 3.3%
Volunteer 3.3%
Compositor 3.3%
Top Careers After Visual Artist
Artist 12.5%
3D Artist 5.1%
Animator 4.5%
Supervisor 4.3%
Internship 3.5%
Instructor 3.5%
Compositor 3.3%
Volunteer 3.1%

Do you work as a Visual Artist?

Visual Artist Demographics

Gender

Male

51.2%

Female

34.5%

Unknown

14.3%
Ethnicity

White

59.5%

Hispanic or Latino

17.0%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

8.4%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.0%

French

14.6%

German

10.4%

Italian

10.4%

Russian

6.3%

Korean

6.3%

Swedish

4.2%

Chinese

4.2%

Mandarin

4.2%

Danish

2.1%

Czech

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Persian

2.1%

Dakota

2.1%

Norwegian

2.1%

Thai

2.1%
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Visual Artist Education

Schools

Academy of Art University

13.3%

Savannah College of Art and Design

13.3%

School of Visual Arts

6.9%

San Jose State University

6.9%

Ringling College of Art and Design

6.9%

Columbia College Chicago

6.4%

Art Institute of California - Inland

6.4%

Full Sail University

4.8%

Art Center College of Design

4.3%

University of the Arts

3.7%

Parsons the New School for Design

3.2%

Miami International University of Art and Design

3.2%

Art Institute of Colorado

2.7%

California Institute of the Arts

2.7%

Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy

2.7%

University of Central Florida

2.7%

Rochester Institute of Technology

2.7%

Rhode Island School of Design

2.7%

Maryland Institute College of Art

2.7%

New York University

2.1%
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Majors

Fine Arts

22.7%

Graphic Design

17.9%

Photography

11.0%

Animation

10.7%

Design And Visual Communication

6.1%

Business

3.9%

Visual And Performing Arts

3.9%

Communication

3.8%

Computer Science

3.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.3%

Computer Applications

1.9%

Education

1.8%

Architecture

1.8%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

Digital Media

1.5%

Drafting And Design

1.2%

Psychology

1.2%

Elementary Education

1.1%

Marketing

1.1%

Entertainment Business

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

49.0%

Other

20.4%

Masters

15.4%

Associate

8.9%

Certificate

4.6%

Doctorate

0.9%

Diploma

0.8%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$77,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$37,000
Min 10%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$77,000
Median 50%
$160,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
DreamWorks Animation
Highest Paying City
Huntsville, AL
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does a Visual Artist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Visual Artist in the United States is $77,160 per year or $37 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $37,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $160,000.

Real Visual Artist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Visual Effects Artist Activision Publishing, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 15, 2015 $139,972
Pre-Visualization Artist Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Mar 22, 2010 $137,280
Pre-Visualization Artist Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Mar 22, 2012 $137,280
Visual Development Artist Animated Productions Inc. Los Angeles, CA Dec 29, 2014 $120,816
Lead Visual Effects Artist Famiglia DI Vendetta, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Oct 01, 2011 $115,000 -
$130,000
Visual Effects Artist Title Boy Films, Inc. CA Sep 30, 2010 $110,000
Visual Development Artist Animated Productions Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 29, 2014 $104,350
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Oct 01, 2010 $104,000
Visual Development Artist Animated Productions Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 22, 2015 $104,000
Visual Development Artist Animated Productions Inc. Los Angeles, CA Jul 28, 2015 $104,000
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Oct 31, 2014 $101,046
Visual Artist II Nvidia Corporation Santa Clara, CA Apr 08, 2016 $100,277
Visual Development Artist Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Jan 04, 2010 $100,000
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Oct 31, 2011 $87,571
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Mar 22, 2012 $86,062
Visual Development Artist SONY Pictures Animation Inc. Culver City, CA Aug 03, 2015 $83,480
Visual Development Artist SONY Pictures Animation Inc. Culver City, CA Feb 17, 2014 $83,200
3D Visual Effect Artist Digital Image Studios Farmington Hills, MI Apr 10, 2015 $82,555
Visual Effects Artist Group One Broadcasting LLC San Francisco, CA Jan 18, 2014 $80,002
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Mar 22, 2015 $77,156
Visual Effects Artist Electronic Arts, Inc. Sacramento, CA Nov 28, 2016 $75,004
Visual Effects Artist Secret Level, Inc. San Francisco, CA Nov 06, 2009 $70,000 -
$80,000
Visual Development Artist Dreamworks Animation LLC Glendale, CA Oct 01, 2013 $67,598
Visual Development Artist Pacific Data Images, Inc. Redwood City, CA Jan 01, 2012 $65,219
Visual Effects Artist Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. Oakland, CA Oct 27, 2014 $65,000
Visual Effects Artist Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. Oakland, CA Nov 10, 2014 $65,000
Visual Effects Artist Crazy Horse Effects, Inc. CA Dec 01, 2011 $65,000

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Top Skills for A Visual Artist

  1. Development Artist
  2. Adobe Photoshop
  3. Video Production
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Freelance Visual Development Artist on LEGO 2 - involved with creating concept art, environment and character designs.
  • Designed and manually animated 10 minutes of animation using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere.
  • Perform visual effects work on multiple shots to meet daily/weekly deadlines to ensure shots will be ready to proceed.
  • Create original photography and photo-illustration for publishing, advertising, entertainment and educational clients worldwide.
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design, Graphic Design, Art History, Printmaking 2.

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Top 10 Best States for Visual Artists

  1. Washington
  2. California
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Connecticut
  5. West Virginia
  6. North Carolina
  7. New York
  8. New Jersey
  9. Texas
  10. Delaware
  • (69 jobs)
  • (293 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (58 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (68 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Top Visual Artist Employers

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Jobs From Top Visual Artist Employers

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