Choosing a College Major – why Visual Arts?

Many of my students are frustrated because their parents are leery about their desire to pursue a course of study in the visual arts in college. It is understandable that parents would be concerned about the future employment prospects for their graduating children.

First the hard cold data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
• Employment of artists and related workers is expected to grow 12 percent through 2018, about as fast as the average for all occupations. An increasing reliance on artists to create digital or multimedia artwork will drive growth. Art directors will see an increase in jobs in advertising due to demand for the overall vision they bring to a project.
• For graphic designers, employment is expected to grow about as fast as the average, with many new jobs associated with interactive media. Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 13 percent, as fast as the average for all occupations from 2008 to 2018, as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers and computer design firms.
• Demand for illustrators who work on a computer will increase as media companies use more detailed images and backgrounds in their designs. Medical illustrators will also be in greater demand as medical research continues to grow.
• Demand for multimedia artists and animators will increase as consumers continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and 3D animated movies. Additional job openings will arise from an increasing need for computer graphics in the growing number of mobile technologies. The demand for animators is also increasing in alternative areas such as scientific research and design services.
Consider this quote from Richard Florida, author of the book, The Rise of the Creative Class, who supports the notion that the growing role of creativity in our economy will shape the future of how we work:

At bottom, a jobs strategy needs to start from a fundamental principle: That each and every human being is creative and that we can only grow, develop, and prosper by harnessing the full creativity of each of us. For the first time in history, future economic development requires further human development. This means develop a strategy to nurture creativity across the board – on the farm, in the factory, and in offices, shops, non-profits, and a full gamut of service class work, as well as within the creative class. Our future depends on it.

I couldn’t agree more.

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