Apart from philosophy, art is probably the most made fun of major. It comes with a stereotype of what an art student looks like as well as the general opinion that art majors aren’t going anywhere. Most people don’t realize how many jobs there are in the art field, or how many types of art major there are. Here’s a break down of what “art major” could mean:
- Fine Art: this is the typical “artist” art major. Studio work like painting and drawing, illustrators, sculptors, etc. This is the type of art major that’s the hardest to get a job in because artistic talent is the only aspect. Gallery artists and commercially working artists and illustrators come out of this, though the great majority of them come from art schools all over the world, not just university.
- Graphic Design: this is a career that focuses on business and communication through art. Graphic designers create logos, diagrams, magazine layouts – commercial art, essentially. They know business and understand how to communicate ideas and information through the visual. An emerging side of this career is the web designer. Not necessarily a programmer, but someone who designs all of the visual aspects of a web page.
- Art History: though other art majors like to make fun of these guys, they are valuable and there are jobs that come out of this major. Art historians, museum curators, gallery owners, and art restoration professionals all come out of the art history major. Rather than focusing on studio and producing work, this is a major that revolves around research, both historical and contemporary. Generally, everyone in an art major has to take an art history class at some point. A lot of people dread it because it means lecture, reading homework, and essays. Yet art history classes can be a great opportunity to learn about different cultures as well as what’s going on in the art world now.
- Architecture: stereotypically, these programs are exceptionally intense. At my university, the undergraduate program is five years and no one has ever seen an architecture major emerge from their studio during dead week. Also, architecture students are generally the art major that is the most well regarded. It isn’t necessarily that they’re going to get jobs easier; people just understand it just seems more familiar and likely. Additionally, general architecture isn’t the only type of major — interior architecture/design (how to build inside a house), landscape architecture (how to save a river or make a garden), and various specialties from sustainable to industrial.
- Plenty of others that vary wherever you go: film majors, digital artists (like me), product designers, animators, art educators, and a lot of others that I’ve forgotten and will probably insult people that have them. Sorry, people.
What it comes down to is that there’s nothing wrong with being an art major. We work just as hard as everyone else, but instead of being locked up in the library writing a 15 page research paper, we’re in the studio for 20 straight hours.
If you are looking into being an art major, don’t be discouraged by how intimidating the art world can be. No matter how pessimistic you’re feeling about it, apply! You can always switch or double major, but art majors will almost always require an extra portfolio-centric application.
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