Watercolor Artist: Career Profile

Watercolor artists require no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Watercolor artists are painters who specialize in the medium for which they're named. They often work in studios and may sell their pieces in art galleries. Although a formal education isn't required to pursue this path, many artists hone their skills and techniques while completing fine arts degree programs.

Required Education None, although many watercolor artists complete postsecondary fine arts degree programs
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 4% for fine artists
Median Annual Salary (2013)* $42,610 for fine artists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile for a Watercolor Artist

Watercolor artists create 2-D representations of realistic or abstract scenes or items with paints that are not oil-based. They combine knowledge of color, texture, perspective, space and other visual design principles with creative and technical abilities to create compelling or evocative works of art. Some watercolor artists produce their paintings in commercial art studios, while others work in home studios or share studio space with other artists. Upon completion of a finished piece, watercolor artists may display their work in art galleries. Making a living as a watercolor artist is often extremely challenging, and many professionals also hold jobs in other fields to supplement their incomes.

Education Requirements

Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts programs provide an opportunity for watercolor artists to hone their existing skills, learn new techniques and access social networks. Some schools offer degrees or concentrations specifically in watercolor, while others provide watercolor training as part of a broader visual arts degree program. Fine arts degree programs combine classroom instruction with studio hours giving students the opportunity to learn art theory and history while they develop their techniques and build their portfolios. Coursework in business or related areas may also benefit watercolor artists by providing them with an understanding of the marketplace and how to sell their artwork.

Employment Outlook

Although there's a high level of competition for jobs, highly skilled and talented watercolor artists are often able to find a market for their completed projects, but may not be able to support themselves entirely through their art. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that employment for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, would grow by 4% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for fine artists was $42,610 in May 2013. Artistic individuals may also consider careers as graphic designers, whose median annual salary was $44,830 in 2013, or as multimedia artists and animators, who earned median annual pay of $64,470 as of 2013.

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