If you plan to devote your life to fine art - painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking - be prepared for lots of public curiosity, but not much understanding. It takes real courage to become a fine artist. This is the toughest of all art careers.
The Fine Arts attract special kinds of people. Usually they are people who have rejected traditional career goals such a economic security and regular advancement through a structure. They are people who have opted for a different style of living, where personal exploration and self-discovery become the first priority. Although the market for fine art encompasses greater areas, a real market for the work is very limited, so it's important for us to point out that fine arts should not be a field one enters to "make money".
Some artists have been known to take special commercial assignments that might meet the needs of a magazine or newspaper. For others, teaching is an option. Most artists sell few pieces through personal or professional contacts. Galleries handle a limited number of artists. Few artists are selected to exhibit, although most galleries willingly look at slides of their work. For these few, any sales made by the gallery provide the income for the artist. The best galleries pay the artist a monthly stipend to help continue work. Fine artists who use film or video to make their personal statements have outlets in commercial theater, depending on the content of the film. Other resources open to the artist are various kinds of government and private grants such as: Fulbright Scholarships, National Council of the Arts Grants and Guggenheim Fellowships.
If a student is interested in a career in the fine arts it would be wise to speak with an advisor in the colleges or art schools you might be considering. They may be able to work out a program that will best fit your personal needs, and give advice as to the best course of action.
Contributed by Barbara Labrosse - SUNY Oswego