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The Breakdown

Self-expression is fundamental to human nature. And no one understands or appreciates that sentiment more than an artist. Indeed, regardless of whether they are using oil paints or metal piping, artists can turn personal reflection into provoking commentary on the world at large. They have the power to remind us of the simple beauty that surrounds us and the horror that can just as easily and terrifyingly encroach. If you find yourself drawn (pun intended!) to creative and visual pursuits, perhaps art is the major for you!

As an art major, you’ll learn how to develop your own visual language. Through a combination of classes in critical theory, art history and, of course, studio art, you will study how to both employ and critique elements of composition, color and form. While some programs might allow you to dabble in a variety of mediums, others might have you focus on either 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional art. Specific concentrations can include painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design or ceramics. Finally, you should expect to complete a capstone project senior year. This will showcase your point of view as an artist and is likely to culminate in a campus exhibition.

Beyond imagination (and inherent artistic talent), to excel as an art major you should be prepared to log long hours in the studio. After all, art is a demanding field and requires dedication, discipline and focus. A thick skin is also important as you’ll have to withstand a number of critiques. And you should be cool with having paint chips under your nails during the majority of the semester.

Nuts and Bolts

Art majors have the opportunity to dive into a variety of mediums. You’ll have the potential to explore such topics and forms as: Two-Dimensional Foundations, Introductory Sculpture: Metal, Alternative Photographic Processes, Drawing: Introduction to the Figure, Collage and Mixed Media, Colored Works on Paper, Ceramics II, Introduction to Video Art, Critical Theory in the Studio, Motion Design, Silkscreen Printing and Visual Thinking.

Decisions, Decisions

Art majors are clearly drawn to creative and expressive pursuits. Therefore, they might also be interested in studying art history, architecture, film/television studies, media studies, graphic design, landscape architecture, art education, art therapy, advertising, photography, fashion design, video game design, animation, interior design, theater, arts management and digital media.

What's Next

Relax, in spite of parental fears and assertions, an art degree doesn’t lead directly to the unemployment line. As with so many liberal arts majors, while there is no set professional track, many opportunities abound for those with artistic talent and dreams. Though you might not be able to open your own studio and live off commissioned work alone, there are a number of jobs you can land which will keep you creatively satisfied and fairly well compensated. For example, many art majors seek out jobs with museums and art galleries. Opportunities at either location can range from art handler and exhibit designer to registrar, tour guide or development officer. Commercial art is another viable option and many grads find positions as graphic or web designers for a variety of companies. Designers are also needed in print journalism and publishing. And of course a handful of grads wind up doing art direction for advertising agencies or television, film and media companies. Additionally, art therapy is a growing field where majors use their training to help patients overcome anxieties and traumas. Finally, the education sector is always a popular option. Indeed, you can instill your passion for art within your students and help them to discover self-expression. And what could be more satisfying than that?


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Don Munce