Careers for Art and Design Majors
For many people, say the word “art school,” and the first thing that pops into mind is the Sistine Chapel or the statue of David in Florence, Italy. But there is so much more to art—and to art school—than just that. Of course, painting and sculpting and the fine arts are wonderful and plenty of schools will launch students into great careers in either, but there are so many programs and careers for art school students that aren’t being explored or considered quite as often.
“I love to remind people that going to art school isn’t just painting and drawing and that there are plenty of other programs of study that they should consider,” says Ryan O’Keefe, the assistant director of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art & Design (AICAD)
He sat down and gave us a list of some of the under-explored majors and programs of study that may interest creative students now or in the future.
1. Urban Design
City and Regional Planning, also known as urban design, is the development and design of plans and programs for the use of urban and regional space. This major allows students to use collaborative skills and their critical thinking abilities necessary to consider realistic urban growth, and economic, environmental, and social justice in urban neighborhoods and regions, but it also takes a lot of skill in drawing and creative planning.
2. Entertainment Arts
Think all things animation, game design, video, film, and television. The Entertainment Arts major is perfect for any creative students who also enjoy playing Xbox or computer games or VR and who want to be part of the design from the ground up. Students would expect to take a full course load of industrial design, illustration, and animation to meet their entertainment artist aspirations.
3. Toy Design
If you have ever wanted to live out the 1980’s movie “Big” as an adult, this is the major for you. But it isn’t the 1980’s anymore. Toy design is expanding beyond the My Little Ponies and American Girl dolls of yesterday. It now includes computer and interactive game design. Students enrolled in toy design programs will cover ideation, marketing and engineering of toys, fully preparing them for employment in the industry.
4. Curatorial Studies
Curatorial and Museum Studies programs explore the business side of the art world. A curator man- ages relationships between artists, artworks, exhi- bitions spaces, and the public. They get to pick and choose work based on the space and the city and the clients who may come and see it. The work is rich in research and investigation in art history and criticism. It’s almost like matchmaking between the perfect space and the perfect artist. Curators have the opportunity to present their extensive research and knowledge in a published or exhibited format.
5. Environmental Design
Environmental Design (also known as Sustainable Design) takes interior design and expands it. This creative field combines elements of architecture and graphic design with interior design, perfect for anyone still remembering the Minecraft houses they loved to build as children. A lot of this space will be commercial projects — lighting, signage, traffic patterns, furniture, and more. It’s about considering how space is meant to be used and shaping it to facilitate that comfortably for inhabitants. Three-dimensional and spatial abilities are key in this field, as is an understanding of social and human processes.
6. Industrial Design
Industrial or Product Design can mean many things from designing cars to household appliances to medical equipment and computers — nearly any three-dimensional object. The designer gets to be very hands-on and can incorporate sociology and psychology and human behaviour analysis into this creative field along with the obvious graphic design component. This can lead to work as part of a design firm or work as a solo or freelance designer.
7. Visual Communications
Visual Communications (also known as Visual Communication Design) programs prepare students for work as advertising designers, graphic designers, and illustrators. The major incorporated communication theory, graphic design, illustration, information design, and typography.
Students in Photography can expect careers that encompass all sorts of visual fields, whether they choose to do portraits or product photography or weddings and events. They will explore the fundamentals of film processing and darkroom printing and then move on to experiment with digital capture, high-end printing at medium and large scales, video, installation work and other approaches.
Like many other areas of art and design, Film Studies can encompass a wide range of formats and approaches. At one end of the spectrum are fine arts-oriented films. At the other end are full-scale Hollywood productions such as “Good Will Hunting” (directed by Gus Van Sant, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design). Imagination and technical knowledge are prerequisites here.