Getting an Art Degree? – What next?

Getting an Art Degree? – What next?

Recently, I’ve had a few Art students ask
me for advice for what to do after they have finished their studies and go out into the
world with a degree tucked under their arms – looking for a job. Well, It’s a long time since I started and
things have changed a lot. Back then there was no internet – just the Artist’ and Writers
Year book that contained a lot of addresses and phone numbers. I made a list of all the
companies I wanted to work for, phoned them up and made appointments to see the art directors.
Then I trudged around London showing my portfolio. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way anymore.
Art Directors are under a lot of pressure and pretty much rely on Agents to do the sifting
and sorting for them. There didn’t used to be illustrator websites
either – I don’t subscribe to them. Little pictures of your work on a site like that,
look just like everyone else’s. The only calls I ever got from illustrator sites were
from other illustrator sites wanting me to show my work there too – and pay for it! I asked an influential Art Director last week
just how much has changed, and this is what she said” “The sad thing is, there are so many 100’s
of budding artists all trying to get their work seen these days that I could employ someone,
full time, just to see portfollios or answer illustrators’ emails. It feels so harsh
to say it, but in these tough times, we simply don’t have the resources to see illustrators
unless their work shows a unique commercial promise. Artists can certainly email or send
in samples to Art Directors and Publishers and, in my experience, they all get looked
at. Sadly, the majority will get a “thanks but no thanks” reply, but if the work looks
exceptionally promising they’ll either get a request for more samples or be invited to
show their work, in person. The key words here are UNIQUE and COMMERCIAL PROMISE if
they want to be seen. ? And there you have it. If you want to work
as an artist, making work to sell or to be commissioned, you have to be commercial. I’m
afraid your degree is not going to help you, unless you are going into art management or
other full-time jobs where qualifications may be taken into account. Your degree has bought you three or four years
to experiment and find your true purpose in life. A degree in art is pretty much a certificate
of attendance. It is your work and your portfolio that really counts. I’m not saying that degree is worthless
– you need the time, guidance and the companionship of like-minded people that a degree offers
to develop you skills and ideas. But please don’t think the world owes you work and
riches just because you have that piece of paper in your hand. If you are still at college, the best thing
you can do is to learn about marketing and and start planning your final degree show. A final degree show is not just a nice exhibition
to show your parents what you’ve been doing for three or four years, it’s a serious
show case. You can’t rely on your teachers or professors to do it for you either. Start planning a humdinger of a show. If you
are miles away from the centre of the art world, hire a place near where the buyers
are and start targeting them to make sure they come and see your work. You may be in a sleepy backwater university
town that has been lovely and delightful for the past few years, but Art buyers and commissioners
are not going to go out of their way to come and see your show! You need agents to see your show too. They
probably all live somewhere fancy too! Are you getting my drift? Go and read about how Damien Hurst organised
the Freeze exhibition when he left College. I’ll put a link below. It rocketed him and
his college friends to almost instant stardom. He and his friends are really successful now.
It would be hard to repeat what he did, but you can learn a lot from his tactics. While you have college or university facilities
available start producing business cards and posters to send to people. Start getting in touch with agents or, if
you are a bit of an entrepreneur, start to learn something about business and marketing.
It is not rocket science, and you are allowed to be the master of your future success. There
is no law that says you must have a gallery or an agent. Starving artists starve because they don’t
make work that people want to buy. Successful artists make stuff that people want and they
learn how to market it and sell it. Do not get seduced by the starving artist
in the garret idea. This fantasy was dreamed up by the writers of romantic operas whose
audiences loved to wallow in stories about bohemian failures dying of TB in rat infested
attics. This is romantic nonsense. Artists are allowed to earn a living as much
as anyone else and they do not have to suffer for it. Like anyone else trying to make a
success of their lives, you may have to make a few sacrifices but you don’t have to wallow
in artistic pain – this is a lie devised by devious agents and gallery owners to keep
artists on a tight leash. More than anything else keep making the work
and keep making it better. Know who you are – know who you are making it for and make
your work for them – they are the ones who are going to buy it and make your future the
success you so desire. I’ll talk more about marketing in another
video because I don’t think people really understand what that term means. Until then, keep drawing drawing drawing,
practice practice practice – keep making the work – keep making it better and I’ll see
you next time. You take care now, bye bye.


  • Emma Gourlay says:


  • Shoo Rayner says:


  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thank you!

  • Shoo Rayner says:


  • SpookyKettle says:

    really informative thankyou ๐Ÿ™‚

  • St0ckz says:

    I do graphic design at college at the moment and unfortunately I was unsuccessful in getting into university, hopefully when I finish at college I'll be able to work on my own design work become better and have a portfolio that will get me in to university next year ๐Ÿ™‚

  • David E says:

    Very useful. Will make good use of this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Your portfolio and you attitude are the things that will get you there. Make very piece in your portfolio say something and don'd pad it out with less good stuff. Also keep up a sketchbook. Everyone loves to see a sketchbook full of ideas and Graphic design is mostly about ideas – the graphics are the cream on top – good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Great – and good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ashley Carroll says:

    Im working on a degree in photography. Im working on my final project now I decided to photograph people and there shoes Im just trying to come up with a clever name for it but it just seems so cliche to call it " if shoes could talk" im also trying to put this portfolio together id love a job working for one of the local baseball teams.

  • Paul Wright says:

    Thank you so much for this advice, it's just what I needed.

  • Ginger Burch says:

    Thank you so much Shoo for sharing your wisdom and life experiences I've started a grouping in my favorites with the video's you've done with advise for the young artists to have my Daughter watch.

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    That's great – I'm glad it helped. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Most shoes have tongues – does that help? off the top of my head – footloose, on a shoestring – sometimes the cliche is still the best – that's why it's a cliche ๐Ÿ™‚ good luck

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Great – now to work! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thank you hope it helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Great – hope they help – I'm sure I didn't listen properly when I was younger – in the end we have to learn from our mistakes ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Adam Sellerfors says:

    Thanks shoo! ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm aiming at becoming a concept artist for a game company. Hope it works out. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Ashley Carroll says:

    thanks man now off to try and knock out a draft for my artist statement

  • Nelson Harrinsson says:

    Wow!!! Shoo you must be a "Nova" host or maybe a Discovery Channel ….awesome presentation!! Awesome!

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    That sounds fun – don't hope – just do it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thanks Nelson, All thanks to my home made teleprompter! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thank you!

  • SpecialistTV says:

    I can't draw a thing to save my life. Yet I watch all your videos and enjoy them very much. Fun fact.. i'm in my 3rd year of college majoring in marketing. I've found it to be quite useful..

  • Shaan A says:

    Cheers for this.

  • ooftaZone says:

    Major in art and minor in business is good combination. Minor in business is usefull in holding a job till art career becomes possible.

  • Joe alex Sanchez says:

    Great advice love the videos

  • nightmare dawn says:

    Great advice

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Glad your watching – maybe you'll go into art marketing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:


  • Shoo Rayner says:

    I think artistic types go all befuddled when presented with business ideas. I think this is conditioning and that if they came to it with an open mind they'd realise they can do it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thank you

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    There's nothing quite like tramping the streets, knocking on doors and meeting real customers to find out what they think of you and your work!

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Oh thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    With that attitude you're the one that gives up, does something else and makes room for the ones that make it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Eleanor Chandler says:

    Thank you Shoo! You area true teacher! Concise to the point and with examples. If you can't get you're art sold after this lesson we might just have to learn as in your next lesson marketing skills. Push the shy artist away and sell, sell, sell. When we sold lemonade as a kid we weren't afraid to sell it were we?

  • EllettCheyne says:

    great video!
    be proactive people!

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    You can draw with anything on anything. Get a free ballpoint pen from somewhere and draw on the back of an envelope or anything. You don't need expensive stuff to draw. Start getting good and you'll find out where the things you need are and how to get them. Just draw. good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    HI, sadly we don't have that tradition of lemonade stalls in Britain, but that's the right spirit ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shoo Rayner says:

    Thank you, and yes… be proactive people!

  • art_lover says:

    I m in the last year of the high school and studying business in the school and I m good at art it is something I love but I m just confused should I go to art college or continue studying

  • Annabells117 says:


    The answer depends if you're independently wealthy or must support yourself.

    If you're wealthy, study what you like. If you need money- study accounting, pharmacy, etc. Consider a career where you can bill hours & do art on the side. I'm an attorney & artist. I have a nice apartment, studio, supplies, etc. However I know some artists happily live w/ parents & don't care about $. That's fine too. Just make an informed decision. To consider your options it helps to look at monste

  • Sonja Hรคusl-Vad says:

    this is actually what makes me doubt. I have no degree, I have never studied art, but drawing is my passion. can I do the illustration if there are so many artist with degree? Shoo you told me for 1 year I should practice, so I practice every day and I think it was very helpful. Can you please have a short look on my blog (if you have a time) and tell me, if there is something unique? ๐Ÿ™‚ It is not easy to get an independent critique. Thank you Shoo for everything!

  • bendietrees says:

    Don't waste your time studying art. You don't need a degree to be an artist. Sure you learn some things but you'd do far better studying something more practical to make money o you can find your art.

  • bendietrees says:

    I studied and graduated in fine arts and I'm now going to school again to become an art therapist and counsellor. Art degrees I'm sorry to say don't really get you anywhere. In today's world you've got to be smart about it, make sure you get secure work and have your real fun on the side ๐Ÿ™‚

  • bendietrees says:

    Absolutely fantastic advice Shoo. Thank you!

  • Felicia Follum says:

    I'm considering studying art therapy down the road.

  • Felicia Follum says:

    there is a middle ground to. You can work an art based job (or any job) and make art more often. Or make art part time (treat it like a start-up business) and make art while living in a comfortable but not frivolous life.

  • Felicia Follum says:

    If you are willing to fight for it it can still happen these days.

  • Felicia Follum says:

    DO you have any art business tips? I'm in the stage of starting my art business.

  • Felicia Follum says:

    I completely agree…though you can hold down an art job until you actually need your business degree to start your art business….both could work ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • S Games says:

    Get a descent degree.


    I struggle so hard to get my work out there and to gain exposure. I am an entirely self-taught artist who has already built quite the strong body of work. This ranging from building my own website, video editing, painting, drawing, photographing, mixed media, etc… But I now find myself considering whether or not I am in a position where attending college is necessary for me now that I have already built up so much on my own… Believe me, as an artist, I never wish to stagnate and, knowing me, I will always want to improve on my skills… But the real question is whether or not I need schooling with my position…

  • brendan fastolfe says:

    this was very helpful to listen to!

  • freetammi says:

    Thank you!

  • Andres Movement says:

    so i have to sell out if i want to be commissioned.. . ย  ย  hmmm i can dig it.

  • jesus martinez says:

    I love how brutally honest you are when it comes to talking about an art degree. When I was a freshmen at college an illustrator teacher said something along the line that the degree you're going for is worthless the work you make is what matters. Thank you for making this video!

  • Vapor King says:

    You seem like such a nice person and you're very encouraging. Thank you.

  • Jazzmine Davis says:

    The best advice you could give any artists!

  • fridge says:


  • RoseIsSomeWhereHere says:

    I'm glad you made this. It's great advice your putting out there.

  • Jamal Jameel says:

    Thank you.

  • Protius Protius says:

  • Enrique Gazza says:

    Thanks for the advice, but it just sounds like I'm being manipulated by some British antagonist.

  • mukesh kumar says:

    railway best arts eco ya geogarphy

  • Trash Daddy says:

    But what commercial…

  • Trending World says:

    great advice thanks

  • F C says:

    Si use to love art, I use to be good at art, but one day I decided to quit after a bully would always try and put down me dreams of becoming an artist. He legit asked me, "what's the point of being an artist if artists only get famous when they're dead"? Now I'm a base mechanic, and I'm not liking to so far…

  • Vinh Phan says:

    What a joke. This all common sense advice. You also forgot to tell them most of them will not be able to earn a living no matter how much they advertise.

  • Dny Carrera says:

    I'm so freaking scared, I'm genuinely freaking out because I'm afraid trying to chase your dreams is as difficult and horrifying as people say

  • Jim Cuddy says:

    if I just paint my own art degree it would save me a lot of time wouldn't it

  • Glass Heart says:

    Who got sleepy while watching this?

  • John McNair says:

    I recently signed up to go back to school this semester and I wanted to go for an art degree. I love drawing and I do it all day when I'm not working. But now after researching the jobs you can get with an art degree ( which is practically none) I think I am going to change my major to graphic design instead of just art. Graphic design seem to be a job where you can be working with art skills and have 9 – 5 job that pays decent.


    Why the fuck would I get a damn art degree? I just simply draw everyday and I got good

  • lavapepsi703 says:

    your voice is so fucking annoying

  • D. N. says:

    Getting an Art Degree? What's Next? Unemployment

  • Christina Ostil says:

    The problem is that marketing is part of the business degree too.

  • heungtantrash says:

    what if I dont want to be business minded? what if I just love art?

  • Atlas Zevi says:


    you wasted a lot of money, but were a good bitch and stayed in school. and make sure you are really REALLY good at art. but also need to be able to be the one. for a particaular calling on the job. K

  • SunnYz says:

    Thank you this video was really great.

  • matt Marshall says:

    Yes but can someone without an art degree still be successful?

  • Glenn V says:

    Be honest to Arts Graduates, they'll flip burgers. They studied for something entirely useless to literally everyone

  • Peter J. Hodgson says:

    Hi. I really love the advice here. I can say from experience having once applied for a greeting card design job not 2 years ago the agency called me and were quite frank and honest which was new…he said that it didn't matter how impressive my portfolio is I had no college or uni degree to prove it. I said "but I have this portfolio" and he said I still needed the education. If I was to freelance then the degree wont matter but employers seem to want this for their selection process.

  • N j.s. says:

    I am sculptor nd got many awards in india. Bt now i leave my work from last three year.bcoz sculpture feild is so expensive nd for sculpture camps there faculity wants buttering bt i how can i apply directly for other countries for sculpture symposium or jobs.can anycountry sponser nd encourage ecinomically weak artists…..i can parttime work as a assistant with any artist.

  • Sudesh Kudalkar says:

    sir i m indian gay i got telent of art but i dont have degree wt can i do, bisids dree no budy give me job. wt to do

  • Forever Combo Fitness says:

    Thanks Shoo I've been thinking about this for two yrs now ever since I got into the university for a degree here in Italy, i felt this in my instinct everything time i ask myself same question as your topic says, i think i shouldn't waste a year more because i can better off my talent without the school which is more theories than practicals here

  • Dungeon Keeper says:

    Damn. You just made me wanna give up Art completely because you made it seem useless.

  • Sister Hipster Art, Vlogs, & Pop Culture says:

    Yep, my degree is useless. I like to pay bills and not take a risk to move somewhere else.

  • Lexi Lithium says:

    Paint paint paint. Until the tattered brush you count on (unique creativity) falls apart and becomes every other unless tool. Then you can make a living doing just exactly what you love.

  • Alexandra DeMarco says:

  • Jake Green says:

    Every dumb ass wanted to be an artist and you wonder why you can't get a job. But at least antifa Will accept stupid and when you're done there you can have a long career supporting illegal immigrants shooting up heroin

  • Tentaro says:

    Lol everyone watching this is going to be a barista at Starbucks (Costa for the brits)

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