n the past, there were limited career choices, especially in the creative field. Today, you have access to an array of creative careers, and many of them do not even require a degree! You can be a self-taught photographer or a classically-trained painter. If you search hard enough and you are looking for creative jobs, you are sure to find something that inspires you. To help, we have gathered a few ideas and will briefly discuss what is needed to pursue a creative career.
Table of Contents
- 1 Types of Creative Careers
- 1.1 Visual Arts
- 1.2 Performing Arts Careers
- 1.3 Design Careers
- 1.4 Writing and Editing
- 1.5 Digital Media
- 1.6 Architecture
- 2 Qualities Required for a Creative Career
- 3 Benefits of Pursuing a Creative Career
- 4 Challenges of Creative Careers
- 5 Steps to Building a Successful Creative Career
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Creative Careers
There are numerous choices of creative careers available. Many occupations that are not directly related also involve some type of creativity. For example, a beauty therapist might have to design their own advertising pamphlets. In other occupations, creativity is a central theme, and these include careers related directly to designers or artists, among others.
Let us now get into the different creative jobs available. This list consists of the more common jobs for artistic people.
The visual arts are any form of art that you can observe with your eyes. The most common of these include painting, drawing, sculpting, and ceramics. You can also include things like photography, filmmaking, architecture, and graphic design, which we will be discussing a bit further on in the article. You can also include all of these into three main categories, namely:
- Fine art: Fine art is created more for aesthetic and intellectual value, being considered for its beauty as well as its meaning. These mainly include painting, sketching, sculpting, and architecture.
- Decorative art: This form of art is also considered for its aesthetics, but there is usually a functional aspect as well. This usually includes things like ceramics, jewelry, as well as glass and metal works.
- Commercial art: This also has an aesthetic and functional purpose but is usually an artistic service aimed at generating sales and making money. Examples include graphic design and media for advertising.
Painting and Drawing Artists
Painting and drawing are considered fine arts, where you can study traditional techniques. Fine artists can also sell their artworks to galleries, or they can sell through a broker. They can also go solo and sell to customers directly. Some occupations besides painting, also include cartoonists and illustrators.
Many artists get their degree in fine arts and can then also become teachers in their field.
Sculpting is another fine art example that creates three-dimensional objects and works of art from materials like clay, wood, and stone. Some may even use plastic, glass, or metal in their sculptures, or a combination of materials. Formal qualifications are not mandatory, however, some type of training course in fine arts can only help. Sculptors can work with a museum or art gallery, other companies, or a commercial art studio. They can also work freelance, or they can do contract work.
There are a few ways to go when working with ceramics or pottery. You can be a ceramic or pottery artist and designer, or a manufacturer in mass-producing pottery. Many professional ceramicists are known to be freelancers and work in a studio to sell their own works. Some ceramicists open their own physical or online stores. Another possible career path is to teach or become a ceramic instructor.
It will help if you have a foundational degree in arts and ceramics or at least a diploma in visual arts, crafts, or ceramics.
These creative individuals are usually referred to as crafters, who make handmade items that are made from a variety of materials, from wood, fabric, and wool to metal, or paints. Most of these artists sell directly to customers or can work in an art studio or sell their goods at craft fairs. Many creatives that sell crafts also do this as a side hustle, meaning they have a full-time job and do the crafting for fun or as an additional income. Some examples include woodworkers, jewelry designers, quilters, knitters, and sewers.
Performing Arts Careers
The performing arts frequently involve performances in front of audiences. Some examples of this include acting, theater, poetry, music, dance, and singing, among others. Other more specialized types of creative jobs include singing opera, prosthetic make-up, mime, directing, acting, choreographing, circus arts, music therapy, teaching, or becoming a theater stage manager among many other options.
A performing art degree usually provides a foundation that covers a wide variety of disciplines and falls under three main categories including drama, music, and dance. Students can also specialize in a specific performing art or related field. Here are some music career ideas to consider.
- Music producer
- Sound mixer
- Disc jockey (DJ)
- Audio engineer
The purpose of any designer is to create something nice to look at and that can also have a practical purpose. In most industries, you will find that there are different types of creative jobs for designers. This is because businesses create and implement different ideas for a service or product. Many designers do this by placing their ideas on paper or creating a computer prototype. The ideas are refined until you have your final product. There is a wide range of jobs for creatives in the design field, so let us take a look at a few of the more common options that might interest you.
Fashion designing is a popular choice for many, and involves the design of clothing, footwear, and other accessories. You will need to choose fabrics, patterns, and colors, and you should know how to sketch your ideas on paper or designs on the computer. Some fashion designers work for themselves, while others are part of a company. Their purpose is to supervise and follow through with the design and production of the items. Many fashion designers will market their products to established retailers or custom design outfits, while others will attend trade and fashion shows. When it comes to types of creative jobs, fashion design is a genuine form of creative expression.
The industry is known for its glamor and style, and designers must be prepared to deal with all the complexities of this field.
Another field to consider is textile design, which involves the creation of designs that are printed on a variety of fabrics. The fabrics can then be used for different purposes, including clothing and furnishing. Designers are also required to understand patternmaking and can also be involved in the entire production process.
This type of design can also be included within the digital category and involves a variety of applications. Graphic designers create visual ideas like symbols, words, or images that are used for promotional or commercial purposes. They can also create packaging, logos, magazines, brochures, posters, and websites, among other things, mainly for marketing and advertising purposes. Graphic designers can work for themselves or companies, usually under an art director, another option to consider as a career path.
Becoming a graphic designer means you can be creative while working with the latest technology.
If you love flowers and the outdoors, then maybe becoming a floral designer could be what you are looking for. Floral designs can be used for many purposes, from weddings to creating creative displays for an event or other purposes. This is one of the best jobs for creatives, as you do not need a degree and it is a great outlet for creativity. There are courses and workshops you can take to help develop your design talents. You will need to know about flowers, their properties, types, colors, the meanings behind each one, and how to take care of flowers. Another creative career in this category would be landscaping. Creating and transforming people’s gardens into beautiful landscapes. Landscapers can also work for companies, or they can become municipal employees, making sure the city parks are all well maintained.
Interior design is a popular choice when it comes to looking for jobs for artistic people. There are great employment opportunities to work with design companies or to become a self-employed designer. Interior designers use their knowledge of colors and aesthetics to create visually appealing homes and businesses.
Sets and Exhibit Designs
Set and exhibit designers both design unique exhibits that are used for movies, television, theater, and events. They create these sets by looking at the scripts, locations, budgets available, and the research information provided. Designers can also collaborate with directors and do the appropriate research to determine the correct architectural style for the set design.
Commercial and Industrial Designs
Commercial designers create conceptual drawings and also do computer-aided designs for manufactured items. The product, for example, a cellphone is designed according to what customers or clients need, and the design must also fit the purpose of the product. An industrial designer comes up with the concepts for the manufactured product, for example, home appliances or motor vehicles. They combine technology, art, and business to create products you use every day.
Both commercial and industrial designers can work in teams with other engineers, designers, and managers.
More Creative Careers in Design
Since the advance of technology and computers, there has been an increase in the number of jobs for creatives. Many of these opportunities can now be done using a variety of creative programs. Many of the jobs for artistic people can now also be done remotely thanks to technology. Have a look at a few more creative jobs for designers.
- Animators: Creating visual effects for movies, and video games and there are many more options available when pursuing this career path.
- UX and UI designers: A UX (User experience) designer makes websites and other products more usable, while a UI (User interface) designer creates the user interfaces and how they feel and look.
- Video game designer: Designing video games that provide immersive user experiences.
- Web developer: Helps to build websites, so they need to have both creative as well as technical skills.
- Product designers: Creates products that are both functional and creative, which must effectively attract customers.
Writing and Editing
There are quite a few options when it comes to creative careers involving this skill. Writers or authors come up with stories or books for publication as books that can be non-fiction or fictional. They can write scripts for films or television shows. Writers can also create advertisements or become journalists. Technical writers are those with in-depth knowledge of complex information in various fields. They know how to explain the information and convey it to the general public, and can involve instruction manuals, articles, or other documents. Some examples of writing careers include playwrights, copywriters, novelists, biographers, screenwriters, and even bloggers or article writers. Besides writing, there are also editor roles. Technical editors help to review and revise the written material before publication. Managing editors oversee the writers and editors as well as the entire publication process and are senior members of the publication team.
The era of technology has opened up a vast array of options when it comes to choosing creative careers. Besides some of the design careers available, you also have many other choices. Most of the ideas below require some technical knowledge, but most of all, they involve a lot of creativity.
Printing and Printmaking
There are many ideas for creating products using different types of printers. Many designers use their art to create custom-made items, using print-on-demand services. For example, you can create t-shirts, or any number of clothing items, mugs, or canvas art. Printmaking has been around for many years, using more traditional techniques, which can include lithography, intaglio (a form of etching and engraving), or screen printing. This can be done using wood, metal, stone, or other materials. The designs are then transferred to another surface, mainly using a printing press. It is a creative and skillful process, which takes time and skill to achieve.
Printmakers can be hired by employers, however, many work in studios and are self-employed. It entails lots of hard work to bring in a decent income.
There are numerous ideas when it comes to photography. And can include subjects like food, landscapes, products, architecture, or people. There are numerous specialties you can select, and two of the more popular ideas include wedding and portrait photography. Many photographers are freelancers and work mainly for themselves. Others can be employed, for example, photographers that work for magazines or newspapers. A lot of the work involves using professional cameras and other important equipment. Technical and computer knowledge is important, to create the best images possible. You can also look into photography assistant positions, but this is more of a career jumpstart. This is more of an entry-level choice for somebody interested in photography. The assistant gets hands-on experience and learns from a professional photographer. Some responsibilities include coordinating the photoshoots or having to set up a large photography shoot.
Video and Filmmaking
There are many positions you can look into when considering this creative field. You can get multimedia artists, who use visual art and other forms, such as animation, music, or storytelling. They use various tools like cameras, computers, or films to create commercials, music videos, and video games, among others. You can also specialize and become a special effect artist or a 3D animator. Art directors can be mentioned in this category again. They help to develop the vision for the product or idea and decide on which elements to use.
They also oversee the artists and can work in many different fields from film and theater to advertising, video games, and other visual communication media.
Videographers, similar to photographers, can be used in many industries including music video, product marketing, or advertising commercials to name a few. Video editors help to create and edit videos for different purposes, for example, television shows, or videos for corporate events. A few other jobs for creatives in the filmmaking field include some of the following.
- Make-up artists
- Camera operator
- Production artists
- Set designers
- Sound engineer
Social Media Manager
Social media manager positions are on the rise and can also be part of the job for content marketers. You need to be a creative thinker for this type of job, which means using content to attract clients or customers via various platforms like Facebook and Instagram, among others. In many cases, this type of creative career does not call for a bachelor’s degree. Many professionals in this line can go on workshops or courses and learn the basics while busy online.
Architecture, a form of visual art, uses science and art to create beautiful and functional structures, buildings, or spaces. The process involves creativity, but you will also need to develop problem-solving skills and commit to a lifetime of learning. Once enough experience is gained, an architect can focus more on their creative side, coming up with more innovative ideas.
There are many opportunities to work for architectural firms, or to one day open your own company.
Qualities Required for a Creative Career
If you enjoy problem-solving and love creating things, then choosing a creative career is a good option. There are numerous exciting jobs for creatives, and understanding what qualities are required can help you make your decision. Let us go over a few of these qualities.
At the top of the list is creativity. This means you need to show commitment and have the drive to work in the creative sector. You need to think uniquely about what you are trying to do. Employers are more likely to hire somebody who comes up with innovative ideas and can solve problems more efficiently and come up with more unique ideas. One way to show your dedication to your chosen profession is to create a portfolio and show you already have some work experience. Whatever course you choose, it should not simply be another job, there should be passion and love for what you do.
Entering any creative field can be challenging, so you need to not be discouraged at the first disappointment. It takes hard work and dedication to study and obtain the job you want. This means you might have to start from the bottom and work your way up to gain experience and knowledge.
If you put in the work, you will ultimately glean the benefits.
Communication is the key to so many things, including being able to persuasively get your point across when dealing with team members or clients. Being able to communicate properly prevents misunderstandings and can eliminate any inefficiencies. You need to network with others in similar fields to develop relationships and connections. Good communication is not only verbal, but you should also consider learning how to write proper emails or do video conferencing more effectively.
You need to always be improving your skills and knowledge. This includes many areas of your work, for example, developing your writing skills. Maybe it is not directly related to what you do, but you still need to create a portfolio, write emails, or grant applications. Another area to improve on might be business skills. Most creative jobs require you to have technical skills, which you should always improve on. You can consider going to workshops or networking events or signing up for a mentorship program. Many creative careers also require a bachelor’s degree to qualify. Being able to study can help to create a sure foundation and increase your chances of getting hired.
However, whatever creative path you choose, there is always something new to learn as there are constant changes in technology, styles, and ways of doing things.
To get ahead in most industries, you need to be original or stand out from the crowd. To do this, you need to keep up to date with current developments in your chosen field. You should also nurture an entrepreneurial mindset and be ready to accept new possibilities. You should also try to be a team player, listen to other ideas, and collaborate to be successful. Being successful also means taking risks, and not being afraid to try new things.
Benefits of Pursuing a Creative Career
There are a lot of benefits to taking up a creative career, and a few disadvantages as well. Having an awareness of what you can expect can help you to make a better decision when deciding on a career choice. You can then plan your steps to achieve your goals more efficiently. First, let us deal with the many benefits of pursuing a creative career.
- Job satisfaction: Loving what you do will provide you with job satisfaction. Whatever you accomplish, it will be enjoyable, and will not feel like work in the traditional sense.
- Financial stability: Many creative careers offer a stable income; you just need to work hard and learn how to work wisely with the money you make.
- Work-life balance: Quite a few jobs for creatives allow for flexibility in working hours and time off.
- Personal and professional growth: Being creative can have a lot of benefits in itself, from improving problem-solving skills to keeping your mind active. There is a lot of space to grow both professionally and personally.
- Contributing to society: Many of the innovative ideas that are produced can be used to improve people’s lives in many different ways.
Challenges of Creative Careers
We will now be dealing with a few challenges or disadvantages to choosing a creative career. Understanding these before you decide along this career path can save you a lot of hassle in the future. However, you should not let this stop you from pursuing a creative career if it is what you want to do.
- Financial instability: Many creative careers might not bring in enough money to be financially stable. A lot of the time, payment is inconsistent.
- Limited opportunities: In many cases, there are limited opportunities, or it is difficult to get noticed above other creatives offering similar products or services. So, it can be very competitive.
- Rejection and criticism: A part of becoming a professional in the creative field is knowing how to handle rejection and criticism. Sometimes, this can be a big part of a certain career path.
- Lack of support: It becomes extremely difficult to succeed in anything if you do not have any support. For example, you are not likely to finish writing that book if nobody is supporting you.
Steps to Building a Successful Creative Career
Maybe you have decided on a creative career, and you already have criticism coming in, but you are ready and committed to building a career and doing what you love. Below are certain steps to follow that can help you get where you need to be.
- Create a strong portfolio: Prospective employers as well as future clients want to see what you can do and the process behind what you do. Developing a strong portfolio can help you get the job or the new clients you are looking for.
- Set clear goals: Setting goals can help you see where you want to be in a few months or years. You can then form a plan to reach each of these goals.
- Network and collaborate: You can gain new business connections and connect with like-minded creatives. You can also be more efficient and innovative in solving problems when collaborating.
- Continuous learning and professional development: Improving skills and learning can help to generate new ideas and improve performance.
- Seek feedback and constructive criticism: This can only help to improve general outcomes and will lead to more future successes.
There are many more jobs for artistic people than what we have talked about here. Many of these jobs you might not have even considered, for example, teaching, or becoming a chef or nail technician. In fact, most jobs, whatever they are, will involve some manner of creativity. We hope you have gained a little more insight into what kinds of creative careers are available, so you can make an informed decision!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Some Examples of Creative Careers?
There are many varieties and types of creative careers in different fields. However, some of the more common examples include interior design, graphic design, jewelry design, artists, photography, illustrators, architecture, web design, and copywriting, among many others.
What Function Does a Creative Job Provide?
Creative careers generally use an individual’s talents and ideas to develop innovative products and services. Working in a creative job can also be where you inspire and entertain others with your ideas.
What Is a Creative Director?
Maybe you have seen a lot of jobs that require a creative director, and you are wondering what that is. A creative director is someone who provides creative leads at advertising agencies or within the marketing department of a business in a variety of industries. They collaborate with others to plan, create, and deliver creative resources like advertisements and products, among other things.
Nicolene Burger is a South African multi-media artist, working primarily in oil paint and performance art. She received her BA (Visual Arts) from Stellenbosch University in 2017. In 2018, Burger showed in Masan, South Korea as part of the Rhizome Artist Residency. she was selected to take part in the 2019 ICA Live Art Workshop, receiving training from art experts all around the world. In 2019 Burger opened her first solo exhibition of paintings titled, Painted Mantras, at GUS Gallery and facilitated a group collaboration project titled, Take Flight, selected to be part of Infecting the City Live Art Festival. At the moment, Nicolene is completing a practice-based master’s degree in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town.
In 2020, Nicolene created a series of ZOOM performances with Lumkile Mzayiya called, Evoked?. These performances led her to create exclusive performances from her home in 2021 to accommodate the mid-pandemic audience. She also started focusing more on the sustainability of creative practices in the last 3 years and now offers creative coaching sessions to artists of all kinds. By sharing what she has learned from a 10-year practice, Burger hopes to relay more directly the sense of vulnerability with which she makes art and the core belief to her practice: Art is an immensely important and powerful bridge of communication that can offer understanding, healing and connection.
Learn more about the Art in Context Team.