If you like to sculpt, draw, paint, or pursue other creative outlets, you don't have to be a starving artist. While 62 percent of artists are self-employed, that doesn't mean they don't earn a livable income. Here's what you need to know to turn your art hobby into a lucrative career. Hone Your Craft
Although some artists are self-taught, many choose to earn an art or design degree
. In terms of paid jobs, it's usually the people with formal education who command the highest salaries. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in fine art. You'll study art history, studio art, and drawing techniques. In a traditional college, some bachelor's degree programs may require you to study general education topics such as English, natural science, and social science. Independent art and design schools may focus more on studio work. Some online degree programs focus on graphic design and multimedia design, which focus more on computer techniques.
An art or design degree can open the door to a variety of jobs, including medical illustration, publishing, advertising, motion picture production, teaching, and arts administration. Art directors usually combine artistic and leadership abilities, and in some cases have knowledge of finance and project management. Arts administrators may have knowledge of fundraising and grant writing. It goes without saying that in all of these jobs, you'll need to use your creativity every day. Building a Portfolio
To get hired for most artistic jobs, you'll need to have a portfolio. It should display the best of your work, such as photography, sketches, crafts, or digital art. Although some samples may come from work done at art school, you may want to get an internship to beef up your portfolio if you're hoping to get hired by a firm. If you plan to be a craft or fine artist, you'll need to build interest in your work by marketing and developing a reputation in the art world. Because this may take time, many craft and fine artists have other jobs to earn enough income until they become more known. Freelance Artists
Many artists also build their reputation and portfolio by freelancing for a variety of clients. Freelancing can allow you to specialize in areas such as children's book illustration, graphic design, or animation. Job prospects for salaried and freelance artists are expected to grow 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That's due partly to job opportunities with Web sites, video games, and special effects for TV and movies.
Earnings for artists can vary depending upon the field they work in. Salaried art directors had median earnings of $68,100 in 2006, according to the BLS. Salaried craft artists earned $24,090, fine artists earned $41,970, and multimedia artists and animators earned $51,350.