Graduating with a fine arts degree?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TheSoundwave, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave Bounty Hunter

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    I have a question for anyone here who has graduated with a fine-arts degree, or knows someone who has. Will this degree be useful to me, or is the common stereotype about art degrees being a waste-of time true?

    In less than a year, I'll likely be graduating college with a fine arts degree. I went for this degree mainly because my college didn't offer anything else extremely interesting to me. I've never been interested in the medical field, business, or math. I've always liked drawing and other art-related creative things, so it made sense to progress those skills. For most of my college life, I've never really concerned myself with whether it will be a useful degree. Probably because graduation seemed so far off. But recently I've been a bit worried that the stereotype might be true, since I'll probably be stepping into the workplace in less than a year.

    Will an art degree let me get a job that pays the bills? I've never cared about being rich, but I also don't want to be struggling years down the road. Do a lot of employers frown upon art degrees, or is it "just another degree"?
     
  2. Wolfguard

    Wolfguard Your own personal Jesus.

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    Well...I have a friend in Armenia who has an art degree. She can get a job as a curator, BUT 1. it's because she has volunteered at museums, and 2. she's waiting for a job vacancy. Currently she's working a job which is not at all in her field of study, and by her own admission, makes a lot more money doing that. If you want a job that pays more, I would say you need to get into computer programming and maintenance, or the human medical field. It may not interest you, but paying the bills without stress will feel good.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  3. Pudglor Shmormuff

    Pudglor Shmormuff Well-Known Member

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    I have one, and I'd say it's less valuable than toilet paper- because here's the thing: If you want to survive after college, then you need to specialize in something that a considerable percentage of society needs.

    Everybody needs doctors, lawyers, international businessmen, computer techs, auto technicians, bankers, architects, cops, electricians, and stuff like that- but not everyone needs an artist.

    Not everyone needs a painter,
    Not everyone needs a sketcher,
    Not everyone needs a sculptor,
    Not everyone needs a photographer,
    Not everyone needs a welder,
    Not everyone needs a potter,
    Not everyone needs an interior designer,
    Not everyone needs an art historian,

    A lot of these are either self-employed or narrow jobs- and for somebody who just graduated from college and is eager to work: That's a serious problem- because that's what happened to me.
    I graduated in 2010, and I possessed a set of skills that nobody f-ing needed- and I felt like a moron. LOL

    I was forced to go BACK to school- I decided to use my art skills to learn AutoCAD- because that's a skill that a number of industries use and need- it provides a broad job range/lots of opportunities.

    This is just my personal opinion: If you want to play the "Starving Artist" persona in today's world, you can- but you WILL starve. LOL

    I'm all for those people who say "DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO! PURSUE YOUR DREAMS! BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE!"- That's all nice and dandy, but you also have to be realistic and consider:
    Who can use me?
    Where are my skills valuable?
    Can I actually survive on my profession alone or will I need a backup/secondary job?
    Does this profession make sense long term?

    If you're an artist, but you want to survive in today's world- my advice is to channel your artistic skills into something that today's industries and companies use on a wide spectrum- like AutoCAD- perhaps you could pursue something like building, car, or product design.

    Old school art skills aren't a bad thing to have, they just aren't professionally applicable on a broad enough range to survive on (in my opinion).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2019
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  4. ILoveDinobot

    ILoveDinobot You can, you up. No can, no BB.

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    You can always get some certification or go to trade school to go with it. When I was looking for jobs, I always see must have "xyz" certification + bachelors from accredited university. Something along those lines, but that's only if you feel your Fine Arts degree isn't enough. You can always add a small class in anything you want on and get a certification.
     
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  5. solarstorm

    solarstorm Well-Known Member

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    Cant agree more with Puffy. My first degree was similarly worthless for similar reasons (Media Communications). I learned quickly that I needed to go back to school for a different field (history/teaching). Even that, which has demand, was hard to get into and the payoff was low.

    Surprisingly, what put me on my best path was a side job I took in a factory, during college. Worked my way up to maintenance from a machine operator. I used to dream about "getting out of the factory" and looked at my teaching degree as making me better than my less educated peers in manufacturing. Yet, when teaching wasnt panning out (my last school was horrible), I put in for a local computer chip manufacturer. While I didnt have semiconductor experience or a degree in that field, the combination of my Master's (in an unrelated field) and experience repairing printing presses.... was enough to get my foot in the door. I had the basics for high-tech maintenance and my Master's was proof I was a fast learner/capable of picking it up. I make more money and have better weekly hours than I ever did teaching. The only downside is losing the summer vacation.

    You never know where you'll wind up. A lot of people don't use their degrees, which is a shame. But always keep an open mind, the best opportunities are not the ones youre thinking about or looking for.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  6. UndertakerPrime

    UndertakerPrime WORLD CHAMPS! Chop on!

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    I really don't mean to be discouraging, just realistic...

    I have a BFA in Classical Civilization (basically, art history focusing on ancient Greece and Rome), and no, it wasn't my first choice. There's a long story behind it that involves 2 changes of major and other tribulations. I was told that just about the only job I could get with something like that was as a teacher, which I would hate and be horrible at. Seriously, every time I told people what my degree was, they would ALWAYS ask, "what kind of job can you get with that degree?"

    I decided I wanted to get a job using computers, but that degree wasn't helping that at all. So I went back and got another degree in Computer Animation, with some AutoCAD on the side. That led me to a career in GIS, and now I'm a data analyst for the State of Indiana.

    I'm proud of my BFA, but it honestly has been zero help in obtaining a steady job.
     
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  7. edgs2099

    edgs2099 Optimistically realistic. Moderator

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    You need to add something to that Fine Arts degree. I have several friends that are Fine Arts + Marketing, advertising, Business. Basically finding a marketable way of applying some of that Fine Arts fluff. The one guy I know with just a Fine Arts, and I'm not saying it's not a good living because he makes decent money, he drives an oil field truck. He spent 5 years trying to apply himself with his degree and was shut out. Eventually took an oil job. I can't stress enough, have a business focused way of applying that degree, or keep back ups in mind.
     
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  8. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Realistically, is there a demand for your skillset that you're aware of (in graphic design, or industrial design, or art history, or teaching, etc.)? If not, is there a way you can create a demand for your skills (either by cultivating your portfolio and gaining a following, or by "selling" your skillset in an application that someone looking to hire might not have considered)?

    If the answer to both questions is 'no', you'll probably have a harder time finding employment. This isn't to say everyone ends up going into fields determined by their college major (a lot of people end up in places waaaaaaay different than their degrees would lead one to guess), but at this point in your career, you're trying to present yourself to an employer as a candidate, and likely have little to no professional experience to point back to. That'll make it more difficult, because you can't necessarily point to 'proof' that you have the skills they're looking for, unless that job opportunity ties back to your degree (and as others have stated, those opportunities might not be as common as other more technical fields).
     
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  9. Star Sabre James

    Star Sabre James The JUICE

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    Ask yourself this: what is your return on investment for said degree? Does your college have job placement for said degree? What is the starting salary for said degree? Do you have any student loan debt to get said degree, or did you cash flow the degree?
     
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  10. Pudglor Shmormuff

    Pudglor Shmormuff Well-Known Member

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    I'll try to sum it all up with this: Fine arts is good for a hobby, not a career.
     
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  11. TheSoundwave

    TheSoundwave Bounty Hunter

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    Thanks for the advice so far everyone!

    By "add something to it", do you mean in-terms of degree, or in terms of just the skills? (Like self-study?)

    I definitely realize that I'll have to find a useful application of these skills. I hold no delusions that I'm going to be able to make a living off selling artsy paintings or something. I do plan on using my skills for something like advertising, at least at first. I wouldn't even mind working in an art museum or something like that.

    At the moment, I'm actually going for a CGT degree. I don't think I'm going to finish it though. That degree is about a year-and-a-half away from completion, and I need to graduate sooner. My financial aid is running out, and I don't want to get buried in student loans. I'm only about three classes away from finishing my Fine Arts degree, so I could get it in Spring. I may return to the CGT degree down the road (and pay for it out of my own pocket). Regardless of whether I get that degree, I am going to self-study those skills.

    My "dream job" is to work freelance. Maybe traveling to conventions, doing some caricature work, illustrating for books, that sort of thing. I'd really love to do concept art for movies, but that would be much, much later down the road, my skill-set just isn't close yet.

    There's probably not a huge demand in my area, no. I might have to move into/near a bigger city to be able to find a job related to what I want to do.
     
  12. Dark Skull

    Dark Skull Well-Known Enabler Veteran

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  13. lars573

    lars573 Well-Known Member

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    An arts degree is a what you make of it degree. I've heard that at certain levels of the corporate world they'd rather someone with an arts degree and then a business one. You'll never see someone advertizing for a job with arts degree. BUT if you see a job that wants a degree, arts will do.
     
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  14. TF rocks

    TF rocks Try and stop me! Studio Trigger for Transformers!

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    In my opinion, I have a associates in arts, but I work in computers testing speakers. That job pays more and I enjoy it more than I would a career in the fine arts world, no offense to anyone who has a job in that area.

    I just find that the tech job I have is more appealing than toiling over some art piece that may not even sell.
     
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  15. edgs2099

    edgs2099 Optimistically realistic. Moderator

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    Yes, I meant degree wise. Associates.
     
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  16. CyberBlade507

    CyberBlade507 Well-Known Member

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    This probably goes without saying, but you might end up paying for moving to a bigger city.

    That is, large cities tend to have a higher cost of living. If moving becomes a necessity, make sure to balance job opportunities (including potential income) against how much more expensive it is to live in that area. A 20-50% increase in income may not mean much if it costs twice as much to have the same standard of living (more expensive housing, commuting time/options, costs of goods and necessities, etc.). Obviously personal happiness/satisfaction/fulfillment needs to be factored in as well, but you'll want to keep that kind of thing in mind.
     
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  17. kazukun

    kazukun HAACHAMACHAMA~

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    My art degree was with design studies/graphic design, and now I work at a government job; my reports and templates for them are really nice (according to my coworkers) though since I apply what I learned about typography when creating them. But yeah, it’s hard to make it if you narrow your career prospects to just what your major/degree.
     
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  18. solarstorm

    solarstorm Well-Known Member

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    Also, consider going to a trade school after this or apply to a local union. Cheap classes and done within two years - usually with a guaranteed job after.

    Find something where you can work enough to cover your needs and have enough time off to pursue your interests.

    My current job has very long days, but its only 7 days of work every two weeks. The time off allows me to pursue what I enjoy, but the job pays my bills.
     
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  19. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    There's lots of things you can do in between self-study and a multi-year degree to sharpen your skills and make you a more discerning candidate. There's weekend/short training courses, certifications and seminars, as well as contests you could join, communities you could become a part of/grants you could apply for, new languages / mediums / techniques you could get training in, mentorships, etc.

    Freelance is very much a double-edged sword, however. You'll have the freedom to pursue multiple projects and clients that matter to you, yes, but you'll also be responsible for finding your own work, and at the end of the day, the work that pays may not be the work you're passionate about (and as a freelancer, the work that pays may go to people who are in-house or who come out on top of stiff competition). Concept work can be hard to get into, and even conventions can be really hard to break even on, due to the costs of travel, and the 'discerning' tastes and low budgets many fans have for fanart that doesn't come from someone with a major following.
     
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  20. WishfulThinking

    WishfulThinking "Don't touch it! It's Zvil!"

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    I put in 2.5 years of college into Music Education before I took a good look at myself and said "Choir Director AND money? Bwhahaahhaaa!!!"

    Switched to Communications. Left after 5 years with a Liberal Arts General Studies degree specializing in electronic media, creative writing and music.

    Ended up working 4 more years in a grocery store before landing a job at a TV station as a news video editor - mostly because I had friends there to vouch for me.

    Now I'm a fundraiser at a public television station. But hey, I'm also a volunteer choir director at a local church! Looks like my original hunch was right.;) 
     
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