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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.

With a high school diploma it is possible to begin a career as a watercolor artist. Postsecondary fine arts degree programs are an option and will increase job prospects for those pursuing an artistic career.

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 (2014-2024)* 2% for craft and fine artists
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $45,080 for craft and 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 craft and fine artists would grow by 2% between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for fine artists was $45,080 in May 2015. Artistic individuals may also consider careers as graphic designers, whose median annual salary was $46,900 in 2015, or as multimedia artists and animators, who earned median annual pay of $63,970 as of 2015.

Since job growth in this field is projected to be lower than average when compared to all occupations from 2014-2024, applicants who have completed a postsecondary degree in fine arts or completed internships and developed an extensive portfolio may have more appeal to potential employers.

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