Just like most art careers, there is no strict path when it comes to becoming a sketch artist. You may become successful whether you get a formal education or not. The industry is open for everyone as long as you have talent, passion and skills.
That being said, there are many techniques and nuances to sketching. There is also a lot of competition. Getting some sort of formal education might be a good idea to separate yourself from the crowd.
You’ve got a few options. Apprenticeships are one great way to get into the art industry. Not only will you learn techniques and approaches, you will also get to network and be part of the art world. For this, you will probably need a certain level of skill and talent already, as well as some degree of connections.
The other option is to take a couple of courses at a community college. This is a cheap option for those who are good at self-learning but need to hone specific techniques and skills. Once again, you’ll need to have built up some skills on your own beforehand. Also, if you are planning to go into business for yourself as an artist, you might want to pick up a couple of business classes to help you out.
Of course, there is also the option of getting a Fine Arts degree. Many universities offer this option. You will probably have some opportunities in-state and at private colleges as well. If this is an investment you’d like to make, pick your program carefully. Look at the courses they offer, what type of studio hours they have, whether you can minor in something that will help in your career, and whether the atmosphere is right for you. Our experts say that well-rounded knowledge is important to become a great artist, so consider taking a minor in something not related to arts.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A DEGREE TO BECOME A SKETCH ARTIST?
- Yale University
Yale has a general Bachelor of Fine Arts program, where the first year is spent learning the fundamentals, with specialization in the higher study years. Concentrations include painting, printmaking, sculpture, graphic design and photography. Current annual full-time tuition is $34,300.
- Rhode Island School of Design
RISD offers a number of BFAs and MFAs including ceramics, furniture design, glass, jewelry and metalsmithing, illustration and sculpture. All the courses include art history, art philosophy and studio classes for a rounded education in Arts. Current annual full-time degree tuition is $44,284.
- School of the Art Institute in Chicago
SAIC has a slightly different approach in their program design, where you get to study a BFA and choose to focus on one or more subject. This can be photography, sculpture, painting or something else, or many different mediums of art. You design your own curriculum, so-to-speak. They also have Master’s level courses. Tuition currently stands at $1,381 per credit hour for undergrads.
- University of California – Los Angeles
Similar to other Fine Arts programs, UCLA offers a generic fundamentals education, later concentrating in areas such as painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, art theory and what they call new genres, which involves non-studio work, video and installations. Being a state university, estimated annual fees for UCLA are $15,131 for resident students and $38,009 for out-of-state.
- Virginia Commonwealth University
VCA offers a number of Fine Arts programs, Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, including craft and material studies, art history, sculpture and extended media and painting and printmaking, among many others. In-state tuition fees average $5,317 and $12,843 for out-of-state students, plus art school fees.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
Whether you are sketch artist, a painter, a craft artist or any other type of artistic businessperson, your key to the industry is first and foremost, networking. Until people know who you are, they probably won’t be looking for your products.
Of course, as an artist today, there are many options to get your art sales going. You can sell online, through Etsy or your own social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. You can also use these to establish your online presence and make a brand for yourself. You should, however, at the same time, get to know the live industry offline. Join local art groups and artist associations. They don’t all have to be sketch artists, but they should belong to the art world in one way or another.
Another good way to start promoting yourself is through smaller art fairs, and moving onto larger ones as you build a name for yourself. You can consider your “foot in the door” when your work begins getting commissioned. This being said, that’s not the time to stop your promotional efforts and networking. In fact, this is the time to work on them harder than ever. The art industry is a volatile business, so be ready for its ups and downs.