What is a Visual Artist?

Learn about the role of Visual Artist, what they do on a daily basis, and what it's like to be one.

Definition of a Visual Artist

A visual artist is a creative professional who expresses ideas, emotions, and narratives through visual media. Their work encompasses a diverse range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, illustration, digital art, and more. Visual artists not only possess technical skills in their chosen medium but also a unique artistic vision that drives their work. They create pieces that may serve aesthetic, conceptual, or social purposes, often reflecting personal perspectives or commenting on broader cultural themes. As visual communicators, they play a vital role in shaping visual culture and contributing to the dialogue between art and society.

What does a Visual Artist do?

Visual Artists are the creative minds who communicate ideas, emotions, and narratives through their art, employing a variety of mediums and techniques to express their vision. They are not only responsible for the creation of their work but also for the management and promotion of it within the art community and the broader market. Their role is a dynamic fusion of creativity, technical skill, and business acumen, all aimed at producing impactful visual experiences and establishing a unique artistic identity.

Key Responsibilities of a Visual Artist

  • Creating original artworks using various mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, digital media, or mixed media
  • Developing and refining artistic techniques and style to enhance self-expression and aesthetic quality
  • Researching themes, trends, and historical contexts to inform and inspire artistic projects
  • Preparing and presenting portfolio work for exhibitions, galleries, or client commissions
  • Networking with other artists, galleries, agents, and collectors to build relationships and opportunities
  • Managing the logistical aspects of art production, including sourcing materials and overseeing studio space
  • Setting and adhering to timelines for project completion and exhibition deadlines
  • Marketing and promoting artwork through social media, personal websites, art fairs, and other platforms
  • Engaging with the public and art community by attending openings, art shows, and other events
  • Applying for grants, residencies, and other funding opportunities to support artistic endeavors
  • Documenting and archiving work for portfolio, sales, and provenance records
  • Handling the business aspects of art, such as pricing, sales, contracts, and financial records
  • Day to Day Activities for Visual Artist at Different Levels

    The scope of responsibilities and daily activities of a Visual Artist can significantly vary based on their experience level. Entry-level Visual Artists often focus on honing their technical skills and understanding the basics of the art market, while mid-level artists begin to establish their personal brand and engage more deeply with the artistic community. Senior Visual Artists are typically involved in complex projects, mentorship, and may influence the art scene significantly through their established work and reputation. Below we'll breakdown the evolving nature of the Visual Artist role at each career stage.

    Daily Responsibilities for Entry Level Visual Artists

    At the entry level, Visual Artists are primarily engaged in developing their artistic skills and understanding the fundamentals of the art world. Their daily activities often include practice, study, and small-scale project execution.

  • Creating artwork to develop a personal style and portfolio
  • Studying art history, theory, and contemporary practices
  • Attending workshops and courses to refine techniques
  • Networking with other artists and professionals in the art community
  • Participating in local art shows or group exhibitions
  • Managing personal social media accounts to display their work
  • Seeking feedback and critique to improve their artistic abilities
  • Daily Responsibilities for Mid Level Visual Artists

    Mid-level Visual Artists take a more active role in the art community and begin to establish a name for themselves. Their work involves a greater degree of independence and they start to engage in more significant projects and exhibitions.

  • Developing a consistent body of work for solo exhibitions or commissions
  • Building relationships with galleries, curators, and art collectors
  • Applying for grants, residencies, and art competitions
  • Collaborating with other artists or engaging in community art projects
  • Marketing and selling their work, possibly through online platforms or at art fairs
  • Managing the business aspects of their art practice, including finances and legal matters
  • Engaging with followers and collectors through social media and other digital channels
  • Daily Responsibilities for Senior Visual Artists

    Senior Visual Artists handle complex artistic projects and are often recognized figures in the art world. They are responsible for leading large-scale initiatives, mentoring emerging artists, and contributing to the cultural discourse through their work.

  • Conceptualizing and executing large-scale or high-profile art projects
  • Establishing and maintaining relationships with major galleries and institutions
  • Curating exhibitions or collaborating on international art events
  • Offering workshops, lectures, or serving as a juror for art competitions
  • Contributing to art publications or engaging in critical discussions about art
  • Advising younger artists and possibly teaching at educational institutions
  • Expanding their artistic influence through public art, commissions, or cross-disciplinary collaborations
  • Types of Visual Artists

    Visual artistry is a broad and dynamic field that encompasses a diverse range of specializations, each with its own unique focus and medium. Different types of visual artists bring distinct perspectives and skills to their craft, creating works that can range from the traditional to the avant-garde. This variety allows for a multitude of career paths within the visual arts, catering to different artistic interests and market demands. Each type of visual artist contributes to the rich tapestry of the art world, whether through capturing the visual essence of the real world, challenging perceptions with abstract forms, or innovating with digital technologies. The following are some of the well-known types of visual artists who have carved out specific niches in the art community.


    Illustrators are visual artists who specialize in creating images that complement or elucidate concepts, narratives, or ideas. They often work in publishing, creating artwork for books, magazines, and other printed materials. Illustrators might also work in the digital realm, designing images for websites, video games, and animations. Their work requires a strong ability to convey stories and messages through visual representation, often collaborating with authors, editors, and art directors. Illustrators must be versatile, adapting their style to suit different genres and audiences, from children's literature to technical manuals.


    Painters express themselves through the medium of paint, using a variety of techniques, styles, and surfaces. They may work with oils, acrylics, watercolors, or mixed media to create their pieces. Painters can be found exhibiting their work in galleries and museums, working on commissioned pieces, or selling their art directly to collectors. Some specialize in portraits, landscapes, still lifes, or abstract compositions, each requiring a unique set of skills and a deep understanding of color, texture, and composition. Painters must also navigate the business side of the art world, including self-promotion and sales.


    Sculptors are artists who create three-dimensional works of art using materials such as clay, stone, metal, or wood. Their work can range from small, intricate pieces to large-scale public installations. Sculptors must have a strong grasp of form, space, and structure, as well as the physical properties of their chosen materials. They may create works that are representational, abstract, or somewhere in between, often evoking a physical presence and tactile experience that is unique to the medium of sculpture.

    Graphic Designer

    Graphic Designers are visual artists who communicate ideas and messages through the strategic use of typography, imagery, color, and layout. They create visual content for a wide range of applications, including branding, advertising, web design, and print media. Graphic designers must be adept at using design software and understanding the principles of visual communication. Their role is crucial in creating a visual identity for businesses and organizations, as well as in making information accessible and appealing to a target audience.


    Photographers capture moments, scenes, and subjects with their cameras, creating images that can tell a story, document an event, or convey an emotion. They may specialize in various genres, such as portrait, commercial, fashion, landscape, or photojournalism. Photographers must have a keen eye for composition, lighting, and detail, as well as technical proficiency in camera equipment and photo editing software. Their work can be found in a multitude of settings, from galleries and magazines to social media and corporate reports.

    Concept Artist

    Concept Artists are specialized visual artists who generate illustrations and designs that help bring ideas to life, particularly in the pre-production stages of film, video games, and animation. They create visual representations of characters, environments, and objects, providing a blueprint for the creative direction of a project. Concept artists must possess a strong imagination, an ability to adapt to various artistic styles, and the skills to work quickly and effectively communicate their ideas to directors, developers, and other members of a production team.

    Multimedia Artist

    Multimedia Artists are contemporary visual artists who integrate multiple forms of media, such as video, digital art, sound, and interactive installations, into their work. They often explore the convergence of technology and art, pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic expression. Multimedia artists must be proficient in various software and tools, and they frequently collaborate with other artists and professionals in fields such as computer programming and engineering. Their work is often showcased in modern art galleries, festivals, and public spaces, engaging audiences in immersive and interactive experiences.

    What's it like to be a Visual Artist?

    Ted Lasso
    Product Manager Company
    "Being a product manager is a lot like doing XYZ...you always have to XYZ"
    Ted Lasso
    Product Manager Company
    "Being a product manager is a lot like doing XYZ...you always have to XYZ"
    Embarking on a career as a Visual Artist is to enter a world where passion and profession converge, where the canvas of your imagination becomes the cornerstone of your livelihood. This is a realm of boundless creativity, where each day is as varied as the hues on a palette. As a Visual Artist, you are the architect of your own vision, translating emotions and ideas into tangible art that can move, provoke, and inspire.

    In this role, your studio is both a sanctuary and a crucible of creation, where solitary hours of focused work contrast with the bustle of galleries, client meetings, and community engagements. It's a career characterized by self-direction - one where discipline, innovation, and persistence are paramount, and where the satisfaction of bringing your inner visions to life is unparalleled. For those who are driven by a desire to express themselves and who find solace in the act of creation, being a Visual Artist offers a deeply personal and rewarding journey.

    Visual Artist Work Environment

    The work environment for Visual Artists is as diverse as the art they create. Many artists work from personal studios, which can range from a dedicated room in their home to rented spaces in artist collectives. These environments are often private, allowing for the deep concentration necessary to produce art. However, Visual Artists also spend time in more public settings, such as art galleries, museums, and art fairs, where they interact with the public, network with other professionals, and sell their work. The rise of digital platforms has also opened virtual spaces for artists to showcase and sell their creations, broadening their reach beyond traditional venues.

    Visual Artist Working Conditions

    Visual Artists typically set their own hours, which can lead to a non-traditional work schedule. The nature of their work can be both physically and mentally demanding, with long periods of standing or sitting in one position as they create. Artists must also manage the business side of their career, which includes marketing, sales, and financial planning. While the solitary nature of creating art can be freeing, it can also lead to feelings of isolation, which is why many artists seek out communities or collaborations. The work can be unpredictable and income may fluctuate, but many artists find the autonomy and the ability to pursue their passion to be worth these challenges.

    How Hard is it to be a Visual Artist?

    Pursuing a career as a Visual Artist is not without its challenges. It requires a combination of artistic talent, entrepreneurial spirit, and a thick skin to handle the inevitable rejections and critiques. Artists must be self-motivated, disciplined, and willing to continually develop their skills. The path is often non-linear, with success not guaranteed and recognition sometimes slow to come. However, for those who are dedicated and resilient, the ability to create and inspire through art provides a profound sense of accomplishment. The career is well-suited to those who are passionate about their craft and are eager to make a personal mark on the world through their art.

    Is a Visual Artist a Good Career Path?

    Being a Visual Artist can be an incredibly fulfilling career path for those with a deep-seated need to create and express themselves. It allows for a high degree of personal freedom and the opportunity to make a living doing what you love. While the financial aspects can be uncertain, the field is rich with potential for those who are innovative and adept at leveraging new platforms and markets. The digital age has expanded the ways in which artists can connect with audiences, making it an exciting time to be a creator. For those with the drive to forge their own path and the resilience to navigate the ups and downs of a creative life, a career as a Visual Artist offers a unique blend of personal satisfaction and professional autonomy.

    FAQs about Visual Artists

    How do Visual Artists collaborate with other teams within a company?

    Visual Artists often engage in multidisciplinary collaboration, working with marketing to create compelling brand visuals, partnering with product teams to design user interfaces, and assisting the content department with multimedia projects. They may also join forces with R&D for product visualization, and corporate communications to enhance internal and external messaging. Their creative expertise is pivotal in translating diverse team visions into tangible, impactful visual assets that align with the company's objectives and resonate with the target audience.

    What are some common challenges faced by Visual Artists?

    Visual Artists often grapple with the unpredictability of freelance work, which can lead to inconsistent income and job security concerns. They must also stay relevant in a rapidly evolving art scene, where trends and technology can quickly change the landscape. Additionally, artists face the challenge of self-promotion and networking to gain visibility in a saturated market. Balancing creative integrity with commercial success is another hurdle, as is protecting one's intellectual property. Overcoming these obstacles requires resilience, adaptability, and a proactive approach to career management.

    What does the typical career progression look like for Visual Artists?

    Visual Artists often begin as Freelancers or Assistants, honing their craft and building a portfolio. With experience, they may become Studio Artists, focusing on personal style and thematic exploration. Some transition to Art Directors, leading projects and guiding creative vision. Advancement can lead to a Senior Artist role, involving larger-scale works and exhibitions. Successful artists might open their own studios or galleries. Career progression is less linear than in other fields, with growth marked by recognition, network expansion, and the artist's evolving body of work. Diverse opportunities, such as teaching or residencies, can further enrich an artist's career, reflecting a shift from individual creation to broader influence in the art world.
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