Difference Between Artists & Artisans

Artists and artisans work in the same field, but produce different products. This article focuses on the differences in these two artistic jobs and some career information on both.

Comparing Artists to Artisans

Artists and artisans fill different roles in the art arena. Artists work in the fine arts, including painting, illustration and sculpture. Artisans are craftsmen who work in textiles, pottery, glass and other areas. These two artistic careers are compared below with some salary and education information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2016) Job Growth* (2014-2024)
Artist Bachelor's or Master's degree $50,790 (for fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators) 3% (for fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)
Artisan High School Diploma $33,440 (for craft artists) 1% (for craft artists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Artists vs. Artisans

Artists and artisans articulate a vision through their art or craft. Fine artists work with paint, watercolor, pen and ink, or illustrations, while artisans craft work like jewelry, glasswork, pottery or other functional products. Artists focus on creating aesthetically pleasing works, while artisans' work focuses on accessorizing and functionality more than aesthetics. The work of artists tends to be shown in museums or galleries, while artisans sell their crafts at fairs and shops.


All fine artists first learn to sketch, and begin with a pencil and sketchpad to work with an idea on paper. Artists transfer their visions to canvases or other medium, and this may mean working in oil, watercolor or pastels. Sculptors take their sketches and create 3D products from clay, marble or other material. Illustrators might work for a publishing or animation company, or create original comic books. All artists' work aims to create an overall reaction from a viewer.

Job responsibilities of an Artist include:

  • Developing ideas for a canvas or product
  • Selecting a medium for a final work, including texture, size, or area
  • Collecting work for a portfolio
  • Applying for grants for financial support


Artisans are craftsmen who make practical artistic products, such as earrings, urns, stained glass and other accessories. Artisans gain their knowledge by studying under master craftsmen and then practicing with continued study. Artisans work to create something new, original, and at times, provocative. They spend a good portion of their time selling and promoting their items in various marketplaces.

Job responsibilities of an Artisan include:

  • Using and mixing mediums like paint, metal, glass, or fabric
  • Shaping, gluing, sewing, testing and producing products
  • Displaying work at various sites including auctions, craft shows or online markets
  • Estimating costs and material needs

Related Careers

A career related to an artist is a graphic designer, who develops layouts using artwork, photographs or illustrations. A similar field to an artisan is a metalworker. They build products using metal for construction, artistic or manufacturing purposes.

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