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Animal Artist: Information for Starting a Career in the Animal Arts

Learn about a career as an animal artist. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

Job Description for an Animal Artists

An animal artist may be a painter, sculptor, photographer or even a graphic artist. Animal artists may sell their works privately to galleries or museums. Professional pet photography and portraits have also grown in popularity and may be a good source of income. Animal photographers with a sense of adventure may sell their work to magazines, such as National Geographic or Outdoor World, to gain exposure to a wider audience. Animal artists who work with digital mediums have opportunities to create animal graphics for websites, clip art or stock images. Animal artists who work in digital media are able to live where they choose and often work from home, since almost all of the job responsibilities can be met online.

Education Associate or bachelor's degree recommended
Job Skills Comfort with animals, sales and marketing, technical knowledge, good business sense
Median Salary (2017)* $49,520 for fine artists, $15.62 per hour for photographers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 7% for fine artists, -6% for photographers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Many animal artists choose to pursue an associate's or a bachelor's degree to learn various techniques, build a strong portfolio and utilize career resources. This may give them an edge in a highly competitive field so they can go into business for themselves. Common courses taken by animal artists include color and shading, figure painting and still life. National Geographic recommends that animal artists who want to focus on selling their photographs to magazine outlets earn a 4-year degree in any major as long as they take photography courses. Animal artists who want to use their talents in the graphic design field need at least an associate's degree.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that animal artists must have the following traits:

  • Artistic abilities combined with technical knowledge of their medium of choice
  • Comfort working with and around all kinds of animals
  • Calm demeanor when working with sensitive animals
  • Business knowledge, since commissions, art law and rights retention must all be considered when making a sale
  • Sales and marketing skills

Employment and Salary Outlook

Employment of fine artists, such as painters, was expected to grow by 7% between 2016 and 2026, according to the BLS. The organization also reported that employment opportunities for photographers were expected to decrease by 6% in the same time frame. In May 2017, the BLS reported that fine artists earned a median salary of $49,520, while photographers earned $15.62 per hour in the same year. It can be difficult to get established, so many animal artists have other jobs. Some animal artists may also qualify for government grants through the National Endowment for the Arts, which can help expand art excellence throughout the nation.


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