What Is A Visual Artist? (Definition And How To Become One)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 8 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A visual artist creates appealing artworks like paintings, sculptures and other art forms. Creating these artworks can be an exciting and pleasant career for those who enjoy working in a creative field and have artistic skills. If you have an interest in becoming a visual artist, knowing more about this role can help you make an informed decision. In this article, we answer “What is a visual artist?”, understand what they do, explore their average salary and discover the steps and skills required to become a successful visual artist.

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What is a visual artist?

The answer to the question “What is a visual artist?” is that they are creative professionals who create art in the form of paintings, photography, sculptures and graphic designs. These professionals can create static or dynamic artworks in 2D or 3D forms. Their job role involves working with paints, developing murals, drawing images, creating art mixed with media and designing 2D and 3D images. Though many visual artists prefer working full time, many artists may prefer freelance work.

Types of visual art

When working as a visual artist, you can work in one of these three disciplines of visual art:

  • Commercial art: It is one of the most common types of visual arts wherein a company hires a visual artist to create marketing and advertising materials.

  • Decorative art: When visual artists work in decorative arts, they create visual arts inside a commercial or residential building. An individual may hire a visual artist to create visuals for their room or home.

  • Fine art: Visual artists create fine art and creative graphics for a gallery or museum. Artists usually convey a message to the audience through their fine art pieces.

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What does a visual artist do?

Apart from drawing images and working with paints, a visual artist performs many duties. Some common duties of a visual artist are:

  • Supervising and training new visual artists by helping them achieve realistic looking effects.

  • Designing creative materials such as promotional materials, paintings, advertisements, sculptures, films and other art forms for various collaborative projects.

  • Collaborating with advertising professionals and creative directors to understand the client's guidelines and preferences for a visual art project.

  • Creating blueprints or sketches of a project before commencing the project.

  • Designing, creating and editing the artwork they create.

  • Using various materials such as carved woods, oil on canvas, paints, welded steel and digital imagery to create various visual art forms.

  • Creating sales presentations for a company's sales department.

  • Using and mixing various materials to achieve intended visual design.

  • Using paint, design software or clay to complete a project.

  • Brainstorming with artists and designers to discuss various digital animation projects and progress on current projects.

  • Creating design concepts and sample layouts based on knowledge of design principles and concepts.

  • Understanding client's guidelines to create murals for a specific element of their business.

  • Choosing the correct artistic medium for a project depending upon the client's need and the project's purpose.

  • Making use of costly material and equipment to create various art forms.

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Average salary of a visual artist

The national average salary of a visual artist is ₹29,472 per month. Their exact salary depends on experience, education, artistic abilities and location. Some cities pay a higher salary than others. For instance, the average salary of a visual artist in Hyderabad is ₹30,000 per month, whereas their average salary in Mohali is ₹25,392 per month. You may earn a higher salary than the national average if you have relevant certifications in visual art.

Related: Gross Salary And Net Salary: Definitions And Examples

Skills of a visual artist

Some essential skills required for a fulfilling career as a visual artist are:

  • Creativity: Creativity helps visual artists create unique artworks and capture the audience attention. Using this skill set, they can generate new ideas for marketing campaigns based on the company's requirements.

  • Self-motivation: Employers often prefer candidates with a high level of self-motivation. That is because most visual artists work independently most of the time, so they need the self-motivation to complete a project on time.

  • Artistic ability: Artistic skills help visual artists draw and illustrate using different materials and mediums. The ability to create a work of art with a visual appeal can help evoke the emotions of the audience viewing the art form.

  • Customer service skills: Excellent customer skills are essential for freelance visual artists who sell their work. Communication and working well with existing customers and potential buyers are important for this job role.

  • Communications skills: Communication effectively with art directors, clients and other artists are essential for this role. Having excellent communication skills can help visual artists understand the client's requirements and make desired changes.

  • Project management: It is useful for visual designers to have effective project management skills that help them complete an art project. They may also create a project's budget and track deadlines to ensure the project meets the client's needs.

Visual artist requirements

The requirements for working as a visual artist depend on an employer's preferences. For example, some employers may look for entry-level visual artists, while others may seek a visual artist with extensive experience. Here are the general requirements to become a visual artist:

Educational background

While some companies may prefer candidates with professional certifications, others may choose to hire someone with a professional degree. While a professional degree is not a requisite, you may attend a three-year art program to build your art skills. During the art course, you receive feedback from peers and gain experience in different art disciplines. Also, a professional art course helps you familiarise yourself with different art materials and tools you are likely to use in your job.


For a successful career, completing an internship during a degree program or professional course can help you gain practical experience in various visual art forms. During your internship, you have time to observe other visual artists and shadow them to understand the job role and the skills you require to create an appealing art piece. Also, experienced visual artists can provide valuable advice to help you master some art techniques and overcome challenges. You can upskill yourself from your internship by enrolling in various free or paid training programs.

How to become a visual artist

To become a successful visual artist, follow these steps:

1. Complete your education

The minimum requirement for becoming a visual artist is completing your 10+2 in any field. After completing your 10+2, focus on enrolling in a Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Arts program. Choosing subjects that closely relate to the humanities or art department can help you start your career. Formal education in visual arts can help you succeed in your career. Though most employers do not require formal education, completing a bachelor's degree in a relevant field can help you get hired for a desirable job.

2. Improve your art skills

You can create various art forms, experiment with new ideas and work using different materials and mediums to improve your art skills. To enhance your art skills, focus on various art blogs and connect with professionals in this field. You can even read art books and magazines and watch online videos to enhance your core arts skill. Also, it might be helpful to pay attention to trending designs, art forms, materials and mediums to understand why they are effective.

3. Build an online portfolio

Upload your best visual art design works on a website, blog or online platform. Building a portfolio can help you get hired for a desirable job role. You can upload pictures of the visual art forms you completed. Employers often prefer hiring candidates who have a collection of artwork from various projects or courses. Portfolios are crucial because it helps an art director, client and recruiters decide your candidature.

4. Complete a certification

Many online courses provide certification in visual arts. You can complete these courses even after completing your 10+2. These certifications cover basic and professional-level applications of visual arts. You can pursue a certification in designing, visual arts or painting depending upon your interest. You can even complete a computer-aided design (CAD) certification that showcases your ability to create graphic designs and artwork.

5. Create a resume and apply for jobs

After earning the educational qualification and gaining relevant experience, create a resume listing your skills. An interesting and creative resume can showcase your skills to the employer even before they read it. Try to include keywords in your resume to make it applicant tracking system compliant. After creating a resume, apply for jobs that interest you.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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