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What is a UI/UX Artist?
Within game development, website development, app development and many other types of development, there are artists who work with the user interface (UI) as well as the user experience (UX), since both need to be top-notch. The user interface is the end-user side of the video game or other application; the platform the player or user works within. The user interface needs to work smoothly, efficiently, be visually attractive and easy to use. The user experience is all about what the player gets out of the application; their satisfaction, and the pleasure derived from utilizing a particular application.
Within some small studios, the UI and UX duties will fall to the same artist, although many artists will specialize in one or the other, since the job description is slightly different. Those working with the user experience aspect often work with the foundation – building the various working aspects of an application and making sure things work smoothly, using the logical sequence to progress from one area of the application to another and more. The artists working with the user interface tend to take that foundation created by the UX artists and make it look fantastic. Both types of artists need a strong background in animation and design, as well as multimedia art.
Artists working with the user interface and the user experience will spend a great amount of their time on computers and computer-aided design software. This means that most of their time will be spent in an office or studio, where they have access to their tools as they work from concept to completion. They will often meet with the heads of other departments to ensure that the overall vision for a game or application is uniform. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies UI and UX artists as multimedia artists and animators, and states that just over half of these professionals were self employed in 2012.
Many artists experience success and happiness in a freelancing career, where they lend their talents to clients as needed. However, with that flexible schedule and freedom comes the worry of non-steady work. Those interested in pursing this career will be happy to know that many industries hire these professionals full-time, with the motion picture and video industry being the top employer of UI and UX artists – this industry employs 10% of them, in fact.
A great deal of technical knowledge and skill is required for this career, so the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that individuals earn at least a bachelor’s degree in art, multimedia art, animation, game development or a very closely related career. Those who continue and earn even higher degrees may have more prospects and opportunities, as their portfolio will be more impressive to potential employers.
The BLS reports that multimedia artists and animators earned an annual median salary of $61,370 – which is a comparatively attractive salary. The amount of experience and education a person has may increase their salary; the top 10% of earners brought home more than $113,000. States and cities that are known video game creation centers will hold more opportunities for these individuals, so there is a lot more earning potential. The states that pay the most for UI and UX artists are California, New York, Washington, Texas and Illinois.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job growth rate for multimedia artists and animators is slow (6% through the year 2022). It’s important to realize that this particular category envelopes a variety of artistic careers, so the true growth for UI and UX artists is kind of difficult to discern. One thing is for sure – the growth of the video game industry in the US is massive, and as the demand for these products continues to grow, so too will the demand for the professionals who help create them. States with the highest employment levels for multimedia artists and animators are: California, Washington, District of Columbia, New York and New Mexico.