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Become a Fashion Artist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a fashion artist. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the field of fashion design. View article »

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  • 0:00 Become a Fashion Artist
  • 0:45 Career Requirements
  • 1:18 Career Steps

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Video Transcript

Become a Fashion Artist

Fashion artists and illustrators create drawings of clothing and fashion accessories for advertising agencies, graphic design firms, department stores, and other businesses. Fashion artists differ from fashion designers in that they often draw someone else's vision of fashion, rather than their own. They work in conjunction with other members of a fashion design team and must be able to collaborate.

Self-employment is widespread in the fashion industry, allowing a measure of flexibility with schedules and pay rates among artists. However, those employed by a business often enjoy more job security than those who are self-employed. Working as a fashion artist may be stressful when dealing with deadlines or difficult clients.

Career Requirements

Degree Level An associate's or bachelor's degree
Degree Field Fashion design, fashion illustration
Experience Experience through college coursework; internships and portfolios may be necessary
Key Skills Creativity, artistic ability, decision-making skills, detail-oriented, communication skills; knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD), Photoshop, Illustrator
Salary $63,670 (2015 median for all fashion designers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fashion Institute of Technology

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Career Steps

Now let's check out the career steps for fashion artists.

Step 1: Earn a Degree in Fashion Design or Illustration

Like other artists who draw or create illustrations, a fashion artist needs to develop drawing and artistic skills. A variety of options exist for enhancing one's talent in this area, including associate's and bachelor's degree programs in fashion design or illustration. Some schools offer fashion design programs with courses or emphases specifically in fashion drawing. Coursework in these programs may include figure drawing, illustration, computer programs, stylization, and sculpture.

Success Tips

It may be helpful to learn applicable computer programs. Students may benefit from becoming proficient with computer programs, such as computer-aided design (CAD). Additional photo manipulation software may include Photoshop and Illustrator.

It is also helpful to participate in an internship. An internship provides aspiring fashion artists with the opportunity to work alongside and learn from seasoned, experienced professionals. Internships can teach students new skills that will be beneficial when applying for a permanent position.

Step 2: Build a Portfolio

Whether an artist is seeking freelance or full-time employment, it is often necessary to have a portfolio. Options for building portfolios now include creating an online portfolio or website to highlight creative projects and works of art. This format can be especially helpful to employers who may be in a different geographic region.

Step 3: Apply for Entry-Level Work

Employment opportunities may be available with fashion designers, department stores, or other types of companies in the fashion industry. An artist may be hired to create conceptual drawings, which will help a designer develop a clothing design through drawings or to create illustrations of clothing that have already been manufactured. According to the BLS, many artists who are not self-employed work in advertising-related services.

Success Tip

You might want to consider freelance work. The work of freelance fashion artists appears in magazines, newspapers, catalogs, television commercials, department store advertisements, and anywhere else that fashion illustrations are used. Freelancers often try to cultivate a set of clients who come back for repeat work.

Step 4: Gain Additional Experience and Education

Fashion artists who already hold a bachelor's degree might consider pursuing a master's degree in fashion design or a similar field, which may lead to new career opportunities. Aside from education, experienced designers may advance to become creative directors or the managers of design departments.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree in fashion, a portfolio, and experience, a fashion artist can earn about $64,000 a year to create drawings of clothing and fashion accessories for advertising agencies, graphic design firms, department stores, and other businesses.

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