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What Is Commercial Art?

Commercial art, often called advertising art, is used to sell goods and services. It is different from fine art, which exists for its own sake. There are a few specific careers one can pursue in commercial art, and many of these require the completion of a degree program in commercial art or a similar area. View article »

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  • 0:00 Overview of Commercial Art
  • 0:48 Education in Commercial Art
  • 1:51 Career Options

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Video Transcript

Overview of Commercial Art

Learn about the field of commercial art and what kinds of media it encompasses. To enter this field, commercial art education is most commonly offered at the undergraduate degree level and it can provide a foundation for a variety of careers. Commercial art applies artistic principles to a variety of fields. The work of commercial artists is used to sell, promote, explain, narrate, and inform. They may design media such as advertisements, logos, billboards, brochures, book covers, or product packaging. Commercial artists are typically employed by advertising agencies, newspapers, magazines, graphic design firms, television studios, and similar businesses.

Education in Commercial Art

Commercial art instruction is commonly available through associate degree programs offered by two-year community colleges. The curricula in these programs can serve as entry-level training or prepare program graduates to continue their education in bachelor's degree programs in related areas, like commercial photography, media arts, or illustration.

Students in an associate degree program can expect to complete courses in topics such as commercial art and illustration, color theory, drawing, graphic design, typography, multimedia design, and photography. They should also take courses that can familiarize them with the computer software programs commonly used in the commercial art business, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Students interested in commercial art careers might also want to participate in internships to improve their professional skills and develop their portfolio. This collection of work showcases commercial artists' skills to potential employers, and it can be essential to landing a job.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Advertising and Commercial Design
  • Commercial Photography
  • Fashion Design
  • General Visual Communications Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Illustration and Drawing
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design and Decorating

Career Options

There are a variety of jobs that require skills in commercial art. Graduates may work for advertising or marketing agencies, or they may offer their services on a freelance basis. Commercial artists can specialize their careers in graphic design or illustration, among other areas. Here are a few careers that involve commercial art:

  • Illustrators create images for use in books, magazines, and stationary.
  • Graphic designers create artwork and layouts for books, newspapers, magazines, television, product packaging, and the internet. Graphic design professionals often work in advertising, marketing, or related fields.
  • Front-end web developers design and implement functional, visually appealing websites.
  • Art directors oversee the design and implementation of visual media for magazines, newspapers, and commercial products.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, fine artists (including illustrators) earned a mean annual wage of $57,410 as of May 2016. For graphic designers, the mean salary was $52,290. Web developers earned an average of $72,150, while the mean annual salary for art directors was $101,170.

Commercial art is art used to sell something. Individuals who are interested in commercial art can earn an undergraduate degree in the field and prepare for a variety of art-related jobs.

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