Fine artists create original works of art using a variety of methods such as painting, drawing, sculpture, engraving, printmaking or media like computer graphics. Many artists specialise in a subject and may concentrate on areas such as landscapes, portraits or abstract. Fine artists can be commissioned to produce a piece of work or they can create their own pieces, which they then sell on, either directly to the public or through an intermediary such as a gallery or an agent. They may also run art classes or be part of community art projects.
A fine artist’s tasks may include:
Some fine artists do not have professional qualifications and may have started producing their own work after discovering their talent. Some artists learn through a combination of short courses such as evening or weekend classes, one-week intensive courses and other qualifications such as diplomas or certificates. However, to have an increased chance of success it is useful to be formally trained and to take relevant qualifications. Many artists choose to do a degree such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts to improve their skills. Fine art graduates can go on to further study in art and design at postgraduate level, completing an MA or MFA (Master of Fine Arts). This may help to increase prices for work, although this still largely depends on your talent and skills.
Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended:
Michaelis – University Of Cape Town
Bachelor of Fine Art
Ruth Prowse School of Art
Diploma: Fine Art
University of Johannesburg
Bachelor of Fine Art
Central University of Technology
National Diploma: Fine Art
The South African National Association for the Visual Arts – www.sanava.co.za
Arts and Culture Trust – www.act.org.za
South African Society of Artists – www.sasa-artists.co.za
National Arts Council of South Africa – www.nac.org.za
If you have a more unusual career, explain what it is that you do
A fine artist is someone who makes artwork that is personal and unique to them. It is art created for beauty or meaning. Another name for my job is a visual artist.
What training did you undergo and where?
I completed four years at Durban University of Technology, gaining a Higher Diploma in Fine Art with painting as my major.
Describe a typical day on the job
A day in the studio involves arriving early, calming my mind, mixing up paint and getting down to it. When I’m not painting, I draw, do research, deal with galleries and clients, manage my accounts, document my work and update my website.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love the fact that the work I create is never the same. I am always trying new approaches and yet, because it is made by me, it is always my own unique work.
What don’t you like?
Running a studio is like running a small business. I find it hard to switch from my creative brain to my business brain.
What hurdles have you had to overcome?
I have had to learn that I cannot sit and wait for inspiration to come to me. Self-discipline and a good work ethic are essential parts of the job.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
My last two solo exhibitions.
What are your future goals?
To keep making art!
In your line of work, is experience as important as formal training?
Definitely. You have to put in the hours. When making art, you learn by doing the work.
Is there a type of personality best suited to this work, or certain traits one should have (or not have)?
You need to have a good balance of self-discipline, ambition, practical ability, playfulness and creativity.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as an artist?
You may need to do other jobs to earn an income, particularly at the beginning of your career. But make sure that you ALWAYS make time to do your own work, so that you can keep growing as an artist
Describe your job in three words
Exciting • Challenging • Fulfilling