You know that saying, “Do what you love and the money will follow?” Well, it’s hard to believe that when you’re about to graduate with an Art degree during one of the worst national unemployment crises since The Great Depression. You may be thinking, just my luck, my timing couldn’t be worse.

Actually, your timing’s not that bad at all. Because those with generic degrees are a little more marketable in this precarious job market than those with specialized degrees. People with specialized degrees typically want a higher salary to do a very focused task, whereas people with more general degrees are capable of taking on a broader range of duties and are willing to start out at a more competitive salary. For example, someone with an Art degree is probably just as qualified to become a graphics and background artist for television as someone with a TV Media Arts degree. Obviously the graduate with the broader spectrum of skills is more appealing to companies trying to save money.

So if you are about to don your cap and gown to collect your Art degree in June, and you’re wondering what the heck you’re going to do with the darn thing after that, think outside of the box and consider these five very unique art-related careers.

  1. Image Consultant
  2. Now that getting a job is more competitive than ever, every element of a job seeker’s persona counts. Not only does one have to have an impressive education and credentials, but everyone out there is expected to have a definable image that basically brands that person as unique. That’s where you (the artiste) come in. Making sure brilliant people don’t show up to an interview looking like they’re on their way to a white trash wedding is an art. Even in this economy smart job seekers pay image consultants to help them come up with their brands. Talent agencies, marketing departments, and employment recruiters all hire image consultants to spiffy up their clients. Or you can start your own business. All you need are few key clients and then let word-of-mouth do the rest.

  3. Book Jacket Artist
  4. Independent book publishing (AKA self-publishing) has taken off. This means that all these little pub houses need someone to create the covers for all the books they plan to release. Granted you may not get hired as a full-time salaried employee, but your chances of becoming an often-employed independent contractor for these publishers is huge. The best way to market yourself? Create your own website (using the Mac’s iWeb software is the easiest and cheapest way to do this), then check out the Kindle’s Top 100 Independent authors. Target authors whose style is in line with your art. Be sure to post any covers you do on your website. Your authors will love the cross marketing opportunities.

  5. Courtroom Artist
  6. Even though they allow cameras into courtrooms more often these days, most are still closed to the media. That means they need courtroom artists to portray the scene through drawings. Some courtroom artists are employed by the state, however, most governments contract independently. The best way to get started? Just show up to court and ask the bailiff if it’s okay to sketch the scene. Unless there’s a gag order on the trial, it’s open to the public, so the answer will be yes. Offer your drawings to the local media (for a price, of course) and before you know it, you’ve got a contract job as a courtroom artist.

  7. Caricaturist
  8. Have you ever been to an amusement park or tourist attraction and watched artists drawing caricatures of people? Well, guess what? The artists don’t do that for free. They’re hired by the parks as caricaturists to sit there, outside in the sunshine, and draw. As an artist, what could be more fun? (Check any park’s website for job openings.) Caricature artists are also employed by marketing departments, ad agencies, website designers, and publishing companies. It’s a wide open field with little competition, IF you have the talent.

Obviously all these careers may not offer the type of salary you’re looking for long term, however, they are a great way to start your career in art while you figure out what you want to do next. And who knows, if you start your own business promoting your talent, you may just spawn a whole new part of the art industry that was waiting to be born. Hey, it could happen.

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