how much does he earn and what does he do? Working as a watercolor and digital artist, visual artist and animal artist

Who is an artist and what does he do?

The pro­fes­sion of an artist is seen by many as some­thing abstract, indis­tinct. It has been over­grown with too thick a lay­er of stereo­types and myths — rang­ing from “an artist must be hun­gry” to the image of a bohemi­an life-break­er, with a slight touch of mad­ness. In fact, every­thing is both much sim­pler and much more com­pli­cat­ed at the same time. Let’s try to define this pro­fes­sion, under­stand its sub­tleties and under­stand for whom it is suit­able.


The first def­i­n­i­tion that Ushakov’s explana­to­ry dic­tio­nary gives to the word “artist” is “a per­son who works cre­ative­ly in some area of ​​art.” This already sounds wider than our usu­al under­stand­ing of the term. In the sec­ond para­graph of the dic­tio­nary entry, how­ev­er, there is already a clar­i­fi­ca­tion men­tion­ing painters and marine painters. But even in it, next to them are sculp­tors, archi­tects, whom we are accus­tomed to per­ceive as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of oth­er pro­fes­sions. Thus, just one glance at an arti­cle from the explana­to­ry dic­tio­nary makes us under­stand that the scope of the artist’s activ­i­ty is much wider than it is com­mon­ly thought.

This pro­fes­sion is divid­ed into many spe­cial­iza­tions, the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of each of which does some­thing dif­fer­ent. Prod­uct pack­ag­ing, char­ac­ter design in com­put­er games, the image of movie char­ac­ters, the inter­faces of pro­grams that we use every day — artists from var­i­ous fields had a hand in all this. In his­to­ry, more often than not, all remain artists who cre­ate paint­ings pre­sent­ed in muse­ums. But this is far from the truth. Delv­ing into the his­to­ry of the­ater, adver­tis­ing or design, we will see many names of authors whose field of cre­ativ­i­ty was by no means the can­vas. But it is bet­ter to con­sid­er every­thing with spe­cif­ic exam­ples, and before that, look at the key pros and cons of the pro­fes­sion.

Pros and cons

Ide­al pro­fes­sions sim­ply do not exist. Every­where has its pit­falls. Regard­ing the pro­fes­sion of an artist, a lot depends on the field of work. But there are gen­er­al pros and cons.


  • oppor­tu­ni­ty to real­ize cre­ative poten­tial;
  • a chance to find a job with a free sched­ule, with­out being tied to the office;
  • if you are tal­ent­ed enough, hard­work­ing, able to present your work — find­ing a prof­itable job in an inter­est­ing field will not be dif­fi­cult, artists are now need­ed in many areas, the main thing is to weigh every­thing, find your own.


  • with a high prob­a­bil­i­ty you will have to face crunch­es and work in a short time;
  • no one guar­an­tees that your work will be in demand;
  • a free­lance artist must under­stand that unsta­ble income and employ­ment will be his faith­ful com­pan­ions for some time;
  • crit­i­cism, meet­ing dead­lines, insta­bil­i­ty — almost 100% guar­an­tee of stress.

Classification of artists

Now let’s go direct­ly to what kind of artists there are, we will give a detailed descrip­tion of some areas of their work. Artists are divid­ed accord­ing to the direc­tions they fol­low (roman­ti­cism, art deco, impres­sion­ism, etc.), accord­ing to the tech­nique of exe­cu­tion (water­col­or, graph­ics, oil, etc.). Final­ly, the area where they work (game indus­try, the­ater, illus­tra­tion, etc.).

All these clas­si­fi­ca­tions are con­di­tion­al, the same artist can work in dif­fer­ent tech­niques, at dif­fer­ent peri­ods of life be an adher­ent of dif­fer­ent direc­tions, and it is quite pos­si­ble to change the scope of work.


Lit­er­al­ly, this is an artist who paints with water­col­ors, i.e., using a water­col­or tech­nique — inter­me­di­ate between graph­ics and paint­ing. Here the abil­i­ty to work with tone, light, the abil­i­ty to make the tex­ture of paper anoth­er pic­to­r­i­al tool that replaces the stroke relief is impor­tant.


The gen­er­al des­ig­na­tion of those artists who cre­ate their work using com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy, using a graph­ics tablet and var­i­ous soft­ware.


And here we are already deal­ing with a clas­si­fi­ca­tion by field of activ­i­ty. Now graph­ic artists are more often called “design­ers”. This is a gen­er­al des­ig­na­tion that includes those who are busy cre­at­ing adver­tis­ing posters, all kinds of prod­uct pack­ag­ing, inte­ri­or design of apart­ments, hous­es, think­ing over the appear­ance of build­ing facades, draw­ing cloth­ing sketch­es, and devel­op­ing fur­ni­ture design.


Here the essence of the pro­fes­sion is read from its name. The pur­pose of the work of an illus­tra­tor is to cre­ate illus­tra­tions for books. Here it is impor­tant, in addi­tion to the imme­di­ate skills of the artist, to know the specifics of the book pub­lish­ing busi­ness, the abil­i­ty to under­stand the wish­es of the cus­tomer. The illus­tra­tor’s idea should not only reflect his own vision of the book and its char­ac­ters, but also meet the require­ments of the pro­duc­ing edi­tor.


The most com­mon des­ig­na­tion on our list. Essen­tial­ly, a painter is any artist who works in col­or on a hard, flat sur­face. The mate­r­i­al can be oil, acrylic, tem­pera, etc. The main thing here is the abil­i­ty to work with col­or, brush strokes, and write from life. More­over, the lat­ter does not mean that the work should be real­is­tic.

The painter in his paint­ings gives his own vision of the world, which may not have pho­to­graph­ic accu­ra­cy.

make-up artist

Now con­sid­er a much more spe­cif­ic spe­cial­iza­tion. Yes, a make-up artist is also an artist work­ing on very com­plex mate­r­i­al — the human face and body. His work begins long before film­ing starts or the cur­tain ris­es. In addi­tion to the usu­al make­up itself, it is nec­es­sary to be able to work with plas­tic make­up, cre­ate scars, wounds, know what to do with fake blood, make “postige” — wigs, beards, mus­tach­es.

The work begins with a script. From it and the direc­tor’s com­ments, the make-up artist should under­stand:

  • in what world does the action take place;
  • what his­tor­i­cal peri­od is being described;
  • the tape will be col­or or black and white, as it is planned to work with light;
  • what are the heroes not only in rela­tion to their appear­ance, it is impor­tant to take into account the pecu­liar­i­ties of char­ac­ter and behav­ior;
  • what meta­mor­phoses occur in the course of the plot with the char­ac­ters.

When all this is thought out, the make-up artist starts cre­at­ing sketch­es, cal­cu­lat­ing the mate­ri­als nec­es­sary for work­ing on the project — wigs, make­up, brush­es, fake blood, etc. After dis­cussing the sketch­es and an approx­i­mate esti­mate with the direc­tor, pre­lim­i­nary work begins with the actors. Pit­falls may sur­face here — a dis­crep­an­cy between the appear­ance of the actor and that described in the script, the need to age or reju­ve­nate some­one.

An actor under con­tract in anoth­er project, for exam­ple, may not be allowed to shave his mus­tache or cut his hair.. Some of these prob­lems are now eas­i­ly solved by com­put­er graph­ics when it comes to cin­e­ma, but most of them fall on the shoul­ders of the make-up artist.

When the nec­es­sary adjust­ments to the sketch­es have been made, a tri­al make-up is done, and a final esti­mate is devel­oped. Work with each actor just before the start of film­ing takes from 15 to 40 min­utes, except for cas­es with a spe­cif­ic com­plex make-up. You need to be able to work quick­ly, be able to make adjust­ments to the orig­i­nal idea on the go, add vari­ables such as weath­er, light, shoot­ing time to the equa­tion. And, of course, you need to be able to estab­lish con­tact with peo­ple.

Dur­ing film­ing, the make-up artist should most often be next to the oper­a­tor, be ready at any time to cor­rect his work — make­up that has flowed from bright light, a wig that has fall­en off, a scar that has fall­en off. In case the scene is filmed more than once, it is nec­es­sary to take a pic­ture of the actor in make­up in order to avoid a bloop­er in the final mate­r­i­al.

It is impor­tant not to con­fuse a make-up artist with a make­up artist. The make-up artist works with the face, empha­sizes the nat­ur­al beau­ty, hides flaws. Make-up artist must take into account the nature of the char­ac­ter, the plot of the work. On their basis, in fact, it is required to cre­ate a face anew.


Not far from the make-up artists are the­atri­cal artists, they are also dec­o­ra­tors. Their task is to work with every­thing that sur­rounds the actors — with the scenery, objects of the envi­ron­ment, even with food stand­ing on the table, in the frame or on stage. Here, as in work­ing with make­up, one can­not do with­out the abil­i­ty to work with a script, to iso­late all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion from it.


And the list does not end with these pro­fes­sions. Ani­mal painters, marine painters, col­lag­ists, let­ter­ing artists - the list of areas and direc­tions that artists are engaged in can be con­tin­ued for a very long time, every­thing is not lim­it­ed to por­trait, land­scape, still life. But we still dwell on sev­er­al pro­fes­sions in more detail. So far, we will not go far from the­ater and cin­e­ma.

Production designer (scenographer)

A per­son who is, in fact, a co-author of the direc­tor, and under whose super­vi­sion a whole group of authors works — from dec­o­ra­tors to make-up artists. The scenog­ra­ph­er devel­ops, in accor­dance with the direc­tor’s idea, the appear­ance of the per­for­mance, its style, cre­ates scenery lay­outs, con­trols the selec­tion of props and cos­tumes.

costume designer

Con­trary to pop­u­lar belief, a cos­tume design­er is impor­tant not only when work­ing on a his­tor­i­cal or fan­ta­sy film or play. The clothes of the char­ac­ters act­ing in our world and in our time are no less impor­tant. It empha­sizes the sit­u­a­tion, the char­ac­ter of the hero. In the frame, a suit of the right col­or can add the nec­es­sary accent, even if worn by an extras actor.

Game artists

The indus­try that so many artists are now striv­ing for is gam­ing. They can be under­stood. Yes, the devel­op­ment of small indie games is by no means prof­itable, and often even unprof­itable. But there are AAA projects, get­ting into the team of which guar­an­tees good fees, gives a chance that you will be noticed.

There are sev­er­al artis­tic pro­fes­sions involved in the gam­ing indus­try.

  • Art direc­tors - more man­agers than artists them­selves, but with­out the appro­pri­ate edu­ca­tion, skills, tal­ent, under­stand­ing of the process­es of cre­ative activ­i­ty, one can­not do here, they coor­di­nate work on the artis­tic com­po­nent of the project.
  • Illus­tra­tors – respon­si­ble for the sta­t­ic visu­al con­tent of the cov­er, char­ac­ter avatars, load­ing screens, posters, book­lets, etc.
  • Graph­ic design­ers – devel­op logos, icons, work with illus­tra­tors on relat­ed print­ing.
  • UI design­ers - cre­ate a user inter­face, a “tri­fle” for which gamers and crit­ics can smash the project to pieces.
  • Con­cept Artists — on their shoul­ders lies the task of cre­at­ing a direct­ly visu­al con­cept of the game — char­ac­ter design, sketch­es of loca­tions, weapons, etc. A job where, first of all, it is nec­es­sary to have remark­able imag­i­na­tion and the abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate ideas with­out get­ting out of the gen­er­al con­cept.

This is how we approached the next impor­tant top­ic — the knowl­edge and qual­i­ties nec­es­sary for an artist.

Knowledge and skills

The knowl­edge required for the job will dif­fer in dif­fer­ent areas. Let’s go through the main ones:

  • knowl­edge of mate­ri­als, abil­i­ty to work with them;
  • the basics of paint­ing, draw­ing, work­ing with col­or, com­po­si­tion;
  • knowl­edge of the the­o­ry and his­to­ry of art, ter­mi­nol­o­gy;
  • under­stand­ing of cur­rent trends;
  • pos­ses­sion of sev­er­al cre­ative tech­niques;
  • under­stand­ing the basics of human and ani­mal anato­my;
  • under­stand­ing of the the­o­ry of graph­ic design;
  • under­stand­ing the basic prin­ci­ples of human per­cep­tion of visu­al infor­ma­tion;
  • own author’s style, you need to be able to move away from it if the project requires it;
  • the abil­i­ty to draw both by hand and using a graph­ics tablet, you will need skills in work­ing with raster and vec­tor graph­ics in spe­cial­ized pro­grams: Adobe CC, Adobe Pho­to­shop, Corel­Draw, Kri­ta, etc.

Depend­ing on the field, math­e­mat­ics, let­ter­ing, col­lage, knowl­edge of pro­grams for work­ing with 3D graph­ics, the basics of direct­ing, the basics of print­ing, etc. can be added to this list.

Personal qualities

As for char­ac­ter traits, nec­es­sary per­son­al qual­i­ties, the list will be no less volu­mi­nous. To sur­vive and suc­ceed in the pro­fes­sion, you will need:

  • imag­i­na­tion — with­out this tool, the artist is nowhere;
  • good visu­al mem­o­ry, atten­tion to small details;
  • mul­ti­task­ing, high per­for­mance;
  • stress tol­er­ance;
  • the abil­i­ty to orga­nize your work sched­ule inde­pen­dent­ly, good time man­age­ment skills;
  • the desire to show their work to peo­ple, the abil­i­ty to sub­mit and sell it, hence the client-ori­ent­ed approach, the will­ing­ness to com­mu­ni­cate with many peo­ple — cus­tomers, gallery own­ers, crit­ics, col­leagues (it will not work to become a sought-after artist with­out leav­ing the work­shop or from behind a com­put­er);
  • the abil­i­ty to sober­ly per­ceive both crit­i­cism and praise;
  • will­ing­ness to con­stant­ly learn, try some­thing new, improve your­self, sup­ple­ment­ing your port­fo­lio;
  • a respon­si­bil­i­ty.

Nat­u­ral­ly, few peo­ple are able to have all the list of traits at once, and the cre­ative path of a par­tic­u­lar artist may not require any qual­i­ties or, on the con­trary, sup­ple­ment this list. But devel­op­ing these traits in your­self is worth it to any­one who plans to build a career in this area.


Ide­al­ly, if par­ents see a child’s incli­na­tion for cre­ativ­i­ty, a desire to do this, art edu­ca­tion should be start­ed from an ear­ly age. Var­i­ous cir­cles, and in the future an art school, will not inter­fere with any­one if they are not dri­ven from under the stick — this can dis­cour­age the crav­ing to take up a pen­cil for a long time. It is impor­tant to remem­ber that no mat­ter how nec­es­sary your own style is, know­ing the basics of aca­d­e­m­ic paint­ing will give you a base on which this style will build. Self-taught peo­ple can make their way into a num­ber of spe­cial­ties — this is a fact, but a high­er edu­ca­tion in a suit­able field is an impor­tant help in future job search­es.

You can start both with sec­ondary spe­cial edu­ca­tion — a col­lege or tech­ni­cal school, where you can enter after grade 9, and with admis­sion after grade 11 to a uni­ver­si­ty of the cor­re­spond­ing pro­file. The most pres­ti­gious in Rus­sia are con­sid­ered to be the St. Peters­burg State Aca­d­e­m­ic Insti­tute of Paint­ing, Sculp­ture and Archi­tec­ture named after I. E. Repin and the Moscow State Aca­d­e­m­ic Art Insti­tute named after V. I. Surikov.

Do not under­es­ti­mate the role of cours­es, dis­tance and clas­sic. They can help improve exist­ing and acquire new skills, and some pro­fes­sions (make-up artist, a num­ber of gam­ing spe­cial­ties, etc.) can be mas­tered, by and large, only with the help of cours­es.

Where does he work?

We have already men­tioned the main areas of work of artists, speak­ing about their types. These are book pub­lish­ing, adver­tis­ing, web devel­op­ment, game indus­try, cin­e­ma, the­ater, cos­tume design, inte­ri­or design, pack­ag­ing, work in a gallery or muse­um. And, of course, the cre­ation of works to order, free­lance.

How much does he earn?

The salary of an artist direct­ly depends on the direc­tion and scope of work. The same can be said about income sta­bil­i­ty. The amounts range from a cou­ple of thou­sand rubles for the project of an ordi­nary free­lancer to the fab­u­lous fees of emi­nent mas­ters. The aver­age rate of an illus­tra­tor, depend­ing on expe­ri­ence and scope of work, is 15–70 thou­sand rubles. The graph­ic design­er can count on a fee of up to 40 thou­sand.

It is point­less to dis­cuss the price tag for paint­ings, it depends on too many cri­te­ria and is set by the artist him­self. In most cas­es, the price of a por­trait paint­ed using com­put­er tech­nol­o­gy will start at a thou­sand rubles. A black-and-white sketch can cost less than a thou­sand, and a full-length col­or art with a detailed back­ground can cost about 4,000. Prices are direct­ly relat­ed to the demand for the author, the com­plex­i­ty of a par­tic­u­lar work.

The choice of the pro­fes­sion of an artist depends not only on the pres­ence or absence of tal­ent. It should be a bal­anced and con­scious deci­sion, an under­stand­ing of the sphere in which you want to prove your­self. Tal­ent is just a base that will only mat­ter in the case of con­stant, painstak­ing work.

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