November 28, 2018

Careers in the Arts

By Emilie Luckett

Images of students completing an art condition report and measuring a framed piece of art.


Pursuing a career in the arts can be daunting. The myth of the “starving artist” is one that artists know all too well, and it can be discouraging to hear when you are pursuing an arts-related degree or career. Don’t let the haters bring you down, though! As Georgia O’Keefe once said, “making your unknown known is the important thing.” There are many creative paths to explore that are fulfilling and that will help you move from the “starving artist” category to the “thriving artist” one!


Arts and Culture industries in Colorado have been growing at incredible rates the last few years. The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts recently released an economic impact report that shows 10 percent and 11 percent increases in arts and culture related jobs and pay from 2015 to 2018. This translates to 11,820 arts jobs and $183.4 million in pay.


This is an all-time high for arts-related employment in Colorado! There are many people in Colorado who are ready and willing to support the arts and artists, whether it be charitable giving to art institutions, or just regular folks wanting to brighten their lives with a fun day at a museum or night at the theater. So make sure to tell that to Grandpa Joe the next time he tries to bring up that there is nothing going on in the arts!


Images of students working in gallery arranging art work and hanging art work.


We are, however, living in an economy where those entering the workforce often have to work really hard to earn a living wage, no matter what their field is. What’s great about being trained in the arts and arts-related fields is that you likely have broad skills that can blend into a lot of different work environments. There are a ton of jobs that value creative and critical thinking, organization, communication, people skills and attention to detail. All of these, and many more, are skills you learn and master while obtaining creative degrees, and they are skills that any employer will value. This does not mean that all artists are destined to work as part-time baristas or in a field that is very far removed from the arts though. With arts and culture related jobs growing significantly in Colorado, there are great opportunities all around you to work a creative, fun job while you work towards that dream of being a full time artist, musician, writer, etc. Never give up your hustle and work towards what you want!


When artists are constantly told there are no jobs out there for them, that they can’t make a living off of selling their artwork and that they are destined to starve, it can be extremely discouraging. These myths may be so well-known that they’re considered a universal truth, but they are just that, myths.


There are a multitude of creative, fun and fulfilling jobs out there for artists to take advantage of. It will take a little extra work and some dedication, but what doesn’t? There are also places like Metropolitan State University of Denver and the Center for Visual Art that are here to help you figure it all out and give you the education and experience you need to be a thriving artist.



Your turn! Are you a creative person working in Colorado? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments.


The Center for Visual Art is MSU Denver's free, off-campus art center examining current issues through contemporary art that serves as an interactive art hub for both MSU Denver students and the community. Find out more about what MSU Denver’s Art Department has to offer here.