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.
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.
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.
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.
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.