Production Artist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a production artist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and skills requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Part of an organization's graphic design team, a production artist's role is geared towards handling creative projects that are close to completion. Using specialized software, they make sure that projects and products accurately meet all of a client's requirements, and that images are of the highest possible quality. Most employers prefer to hire candidates with a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree; bachelor's degrees in fine arts or graphic design may also be helpful for aspiring production artists entering the workforce.

Essential Information

Production artists work in graphic design and use their technical and computer skills to ensure that the product meets the client's expectations. They are typically the last people to touch the project before it is published. Employers prefer production artists to have completed a certificate program or an associate's degree related to the field of graphic design.

Required Education High school diploma; a certificate or associate's degree is recommended
Other Requirements Software proficiency
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 1% (graphic designers)*
Median Salary (2015) $46,900 annually (graphic designers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Production Artist Job Description

Production artists - sometimes referred to as graphic production artists - use specialized computer software to upload and ensure the accuracy of design files in the latter stages of development. Artists may work for the motion picture, advertising or computer systems design industries.

Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of graphic designers was estimated to increase by 1% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for graphic designers was $46,900 in May 2015, per the BLS. The BLS also reported that the highest earning employees worked in the federal executive branch and received a mean salary of $78,200.

Production Artist Job Duties

Production artists use their expertise in design and computer applications to review final designs and layouts. In finalizing the products, artists may suggest improvements and modify formats to increase the quality of production and ensure that standards are met. Other technical duties may include scaling, cropping, retouching, repositioning and preflighting, or eliminating defective and excessive imaging. Production artists may also be responsible for archiving and updating graphic files.

Production Artist Education Requirements

Certificate Program or Associate's Degree

According to the BLS, most employers prefer candidates in the graphic design field to have some postsecondary education. Prospective candidates may consider a certificate program or associate's degree in fine arts or graphic design. Certificate programs typically last six months to one year and include courses in desktop design, typography, digital imaging and web publishing.

Candidates may also consider a 2-year associate's degree, which expands on graphic production concepts and computer applications and includes general education courses. In this program, students may be exposed to webpage design and image editing. Graduates from certificate and associate's degree programs typically qualify for entry-level positions as assistants to graphic designers or production artists.

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degree programs in fine arts or graphic design generally last four years and include general education courses as well as classes in animation, publication design and commercial graphics production. Some programs require students to have completed one year of basic art and design courses in high school. Students in the bachelor's degree program are trained in computer software and may be required to complete an internship with an advertising, publishing or design firm. Additionally, some programs may help students create an individualized portfolio and provide business, management and marketing classes to help entrepreneurs.

It is essential for production artists to be highly efficient with specialized design software. They are often required to crop, reposition, and scale images, and many are also tasked with maintaining a graphics database. Production artists must be prepared to make suggestions to the design team regarding image improvements.


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