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Visual arts and crafts professional

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Summary of occupation

Visual arts and crafts professionals produce forms of art that are appreciated more for their aesthetic value and meaning than for their function or practical use. This is not to say that art work cannot be practical or functional, and quite the opposite can be the case with craft in jewellery, furniture or utensils. Visual arts and crafts professionals use a wide variety of mediums to articulate their feelings or ideas, such as painting, illustration, sculpture, photography, pottery and ceramics, wood and metal work, graphic design, multimedia, textiles and film. Sometimes they create abstract forms that challenge the very idea of what art is, or produce work that articulates particular views on social or political issues, though often art is created simply for pleasure.

ANZSCO description: Visual arts and crafts professionals produce  forms of art.
Alternative names: Artist
Specialisations: Ephemeral Artist, Leadlighter, Multimedia Artist, New Media Artist, Textile Artist
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Visual arts and crafts professionals need:

  • creativity, imagination and artistic skill
  • technical ability in their area of specialisation
  • good hand-eye coordination, with an attention to detail
  • dedication, confidence and self-motivation
  • promotion and business skills, as most artists are self-employed in a very competitive industry
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Working conditions

Visual arts and crafts professionals work in studios and workshops, which can range from rented space with other artists, designated studios supplied by art-organisations, or even their own homes. They frequently travel locally to gather materials or equipment for their work, or to promote and sell their work in shops, fairs, exhibitions or private clients.

They spend a great deal of time developing ideas, sketching plans and practising technical skills. Some works may take a very short time to create, whereas others can take years. Due to time spent conceptualising and creating work, the competitive nature of the industry and the uncertainty over how popular their work may be, many visual art and crafts professionals seek additional employment to support themselves. They often supplement their income by teaching art or working as administrators in the arts and crafts industry.

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Salary details

Earnings for visual arts and crafts professionals can vary considerably depending on their level of experience, the quality and the commercial potential of their work, and the demand for their work. As a visual arts and crafts professional develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Visual arts and crafts professionals use a variety of materials and equipment for their work. They use materials such as paint, glass, clay, stone, wood, metal, photographic film, canvas, glazes, varnish, paper and fabric. They then use a variety of tools, like brushes, sponges, cameras, and cutting and carving tools to craft these materials into artwork. They may also use special computer software for graphic design. Most visual art and craft professionals use paper and pencils for sketching ideas, as well as equipment to assist in the creation of their work, such as easels, stands, work benches and special drawing tables. Since some visual arts and crafts professionals use chemicals and tools such as hammers, drills, sanders and grinders for sculpture or multimedia, it is important that they use safety equipment.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a visual arts and crafts professional without formal qualifications. However, you are more likely to improve your employment prospects if you complete formal training in an art-related area.

The Certificate IV in Visual Arts and Diploma of Visual Arts are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can complete a degree majoring in fine art or visual arts.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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