How to Become a Craft Artist

If you have a creative mind, can shape art out of found objects and unusual materials, and enjoy

man working at glass studio

Craft Artists use many mediums, from glass, to clay, to textiles, and more

working with your hands, you might have a future as a craft artist. The surprising thing is that “craft” in this instance has a much wider definition than you might think, and entering the field may be only a matter of wanting it.

Craft artists are part of the wider world of fine art, and have the ability to communicate a unique way of looking at the world.

Nearly two-thirds of craft artists in this country are self-employed, but there are also varied opportunities with museums and historical sites, crafts fairs, glass and clay manufacturers and multimedia firms.

Craft artists can recreate methods, skills and artifacts from the past, can help to revitalize cultural heritage, and can provide handcrafted beauty to enhance home and public surroundings.

Crafts Build on Tradition

Efforts aimed at encouraging folk art and preserving disappearing traditions — basket making, weaving and totem carving, for instance — have attracted public and private support in many areas throughout the country; crafting associations exist in many states to encourage young artists, and some offer scholarships, grants or stipends to emerging artists through apprenticeships and mentoring programs.

High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Some advertising and promotional agencies employ craft artists for special projects; occasional opportunities exist in other fields as well, including sports, amusement parks and arcades, performing arts companies, and universities. Nationwide, there are a number of juried crafts shows and exhibitions available for craft artists.

The field encompasses those who make a living at their craft, whether it be pottery, glass blowing, weaving, bookbinding or sculpture. Illustrators and sketch artists are also occasionally classified under this broad category. Craft artists may also practice their skills on a part-time basis and distribute their art pieces through local fairs, exhibits and coops, or they may sell through online marketplaces.

Talent or Training?

If you think you might have the interest and talent to pursue a career as a full time craft artist, what can you do to prepare? The best answer might be to finish high school, master the interpersonal skills that every adult should possess, learn fundamental business principles, nourish your sense of curiosity about the wider world, take some art history courses and assess where your interests really lie. You would be wise to begin amassing a portfolio of work to present to potential product buyers and employers.

In an increasingly complex world, no advanced education is ever a waste of time. Consider community college, art school or a university fine arts degree. Take classes in color theory, graphic design, pottery making, fiber arts, pencil drawing and film. Be aware of your surroundings — architecture, landscaping forms, product packaging, supermarket displays, and department store window dressing.

Try anything and everything that interests you, from creative furniture painting to jewelry making, from tie-dyeing fabric scraps to making wind chimes from cast off silverware. Only you can assess your strengths and weaknesses. Associate with other artists, and learn from them.

A Steady Job or Private Studio

While employment opportunities for craft artists are predicted to increase (depending on which statistics you choose) by about 9 to 16 percent between now and 2016, the numbers are relatively modest, and the locations for that employment are limited. Basically, there are only a few major metropolitan areas in the country which have a substantial number of jobs for craft artists.

Pay is also relatively low, with the highest salaries in the overall field or art paid to art directors and illustrators. Trained medical illustrators may possess master’s degrees, and may command commensurate salaries.


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