If you’re tired of your parents griping about your future as a fine artist, try adding one more year in an MA program and possibly some other resources to enhance your financial possibilities. Take business classes or law, or learn about the physics behind fireworks. Why? Because your MA can lead you into careers that go beyond the usual art directorship or museum curator position. The following 33 unique career paths you can take with an MA degree might provide you with some more ideas.
As an Employee
- Art Law: Use those MA classes to learn more about art law. You also may need a JD contract law. ARS (Artists Rights Society) has resources, and The Art Law Blog can provide information, too.
- Art Librarian: If you prefer to work more with books and artifacts than with people, you might learn more about this field through an internship with ARLIS (Art Libraries Society of North America).
- Arts Organization Consultant: These businesses, which connect organizations to their communities, are growing. One example includes Future/City (located in the UK).
- Art Program Development: Many organizations crave to have people on board who can create programs for public consumption. Take a look at some of the programs at the New York Foundation for the Arts to get some ideas.
- Book Trade: Art history background is good for this position, but a number of possibilities loom. The International League of Antiquarian Bookselling (ILAB) can explain. Or, you might check out The Center for Book Arts or Old Book Art or A fair display of books as art might provide more ideas.
- Corporate Curator: Why devote yourself to museums when corporations might contain more treasures? Employment with an agency such as Nixon Art Associates, Inc. can provide you with great experience at this level.
- Digital Art Historian: You can position yourself as an art historian for any art museum or gallery or even for a history department. Read more about how the art world has fallen behind in this endeavor while history departments move forward.
- Fireworks Display Planner: Working at a place such as Stonebraker Fireworks can unleash your creativity in what could be considered temporary installation art.
- Historic Preservation: If you lean more toward a love for architecture, this job might work for you. Go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to learn more. One job that might be obtainable in your town is that of a Main Street manager or executive director.
- Law Enforcement: Although there are only 12 seats on the FBI art theft enforcement team, you might prove that you deserve one of those seats…or start your own art detective agency. Become an ARCA (Association for Research into Crimes against Art) member to learn more about this field.
- Preservation and Conservation: If you want to take care of art in a museum or a collection, you might learn more about what that work entails. You also can join AIC (American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works) and utilize their CoOL resources.
- Urban Planning: If you have a background in visual communications and wayfinding, use that MA experience to learn about urban planning methods and practice.
- Body Model: You already know how modeling works, as you’ve probably drawn from these individuals in class. Turn the tables and use your entire body (or body parts, such as hands) to make money to support your art career.
- Card and Postcard Creative: Develop an online presence with your clever cards and postcards, like Virginia Spiegel does online and in print.
- Event Planner: If you’ve handled art shows before, those events prove to be an entry into this booming career choice. You also can move into a consultation position depending upon your successes.
- Freelance Arts Collections Manager: Bring a history of experience in arts collection with you for this freelance venture. Learn more about how Freda Matassa handles this career.
- Freelance Arts Instructor: While this career may not seem unique, the places where you can establish a class can be unusual — a prisoner art program in a jail, perhaps, or an art class for a local crafts shop or toy store.
- Freelance Talent Agent: Use event-planning skills, art representative savvy and your knowledge of local music or entertainment talent to build a talent agency. Jerry Weintraub might become a role model.
- Freelance Writer: Spend time in that MA program learning honing your writing skills. It can pay off — and you don’t necessarily need to write about art. Learn more about this gig at Freelance Writing Jobs or the Association of Art Editors.
- Independent Photojournalist: Life is art, right? On the journalistic side, take a look at the guidelines published by the National Press Photographers Association to learn more about how to run this business.
- Independent Filmmaker: Film noir or documentary? If you lean towards the moving image, you can learn more about support for this career possibility at Independent Filmmakers Project (IFP) or the Independent Filmmakers Alliance (IFA).
- Self-Publishing Art: If you want to save your original pieces for a more favorable economic climate, you might think about self-publishing your prints. Try the giclee print route to see how that works for you.
- Self-Publishing Books: If you automatically thought about coffee table books, you might want to steel yourself for the expense through this article. However, you have more than one way to publish, so learn more about Kindle publishing, too.
Bricks and Mortar Enterprises
- Art Camp: Find a flailing kids’ camp or retreat and turn it into a camp for the arts. If you need ideas for this venture, try using Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp or Long Lake Arts Camp as examples.
- Art Pawnshop: In this current economic climate, pawnshops are proliferating. Why not ride the tide by opening an art pawnshop? It’s not like you’re reinventing the wheel, as Art Capital Group has paved the road.
- Art Quilt Shop: If you love textiles and art, then art quilts might appeal to you. Learn how to sew and hold classes and sell quilts at the shop and in shows.
- Art Representative: You can begin to represent other artists’ works as well as your own. Your own background and connections give you an open door to make good money in this field. Read more from How to Be an Art Dealer & Open an Art Gallery.
- Bead and Jewelry Shop: If you’re into shiny objects, this idea may appeal to you. Like The Bead Shop in New Orleans, classes, events, parties and special focuses can be your lifeblood.
- Blacksmith’s Shop: If you’re into metal work, you might try your hand at blacksmithing. Sell your work at the shop, online or at shows.
- Coffee Shop Owner: You may have lived on coffee during college…why not continue the tradition? Start a coffee shop, but modify it so that you can utilize the arts as well, like Java & Clay Cafe.
- Junk Store: A combination of camp, antique, pop and found art, a store filled with consignments and finds like those found in Junk Pirate could be fun.
- Metalsmith: Take a cue from the Metal Museum in Memphis, and create a studio where you can teach interns, produce metalwork and repair metal furniture and art.
- Rogue Art Dealer: You can ignore the previous advice and open a gallery in your apartment (make sure you’re zoned for business). Some of these underground galleries have been very successful.