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Fine artist

Create original works of art for people to buy and enjoy in their homes, workplaces and public spaces.

Also known as: sculptor, printmaker, painter, experimental film-maker, contemporary artist

About skillsGetting in

About the job


Source: LMI for All











people are currently employed

High growth

400 more jobs in 5 years

These figures refer to this job and similar ones with comparable skills and qualifications. They only apply to Scotland. Source: Oxford Economics

A day in the life — fine artist

What it's like

You'd create original works of art for people to buy and enjoy in their homes, workplaces and public spaces.

You could use a variety of artistic methods such as:

  • painting

  • drawing

  • sculpture

  • engraving

  • printmaking

  • media, such as film or computer graphics

You'd work from your own ideas, or receive commissions from individuals or organisations, to create a piece of art.

You’d spend time researching subjects, materials and new artistic techniques such as creating ceramics using 3D printing. You’ll need a good appreciation of colour and shape. It’s important that you are self-motivated and determined.

To promote your work you'd arrange displays in galleries and exhibitions and online.

You could sell your work yourself, through an agent or through galleries, exhibitions, shops, craft markets and fairs.

You’d need to build up contacts with agents, dealers and gallery owners to help market your work. You'd also attend exhibitions and join artists’ groups.

You might also do other work such as:

  • being an ‘artist in residence’ and running classes and workshops in places such as schools, prisons or hospitals

  • offering private art classes, or teaching in colleges and community education courses

  • running local art projects


You'll usually arrange your own working hours, which may involve fitting your art work around another full-time or part-time job.


You may work in a studio, at home, in rented space within a shared studio, or in specialist facilities such as a print or sculpture workshop.

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Top skills

Skills are things you're good at. Whether you know what yours are or not, everyone has them!

It's useful to learn which ones are important in a job so you know the areas you need to brush up on. It can also help you work out if you're suited to a career.

Here are some of the skills you'll need to do this job:

  • creative
  • designing
  • researching
  • networking
  • attention to detail
  • developing a plan
  • self esteem
  • taking initiative

Your skills are important

Our unique skillsets are what make us stand out from the crowd. Learn about each skill in depth and discover what employers look for in your applications and interviews.

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Getting in

Explore the sections shown for more information about getting into this career.

You might have qualifications which are not shown here but will allow you access to a course. You can compare your qualifications by looking at their SCQF Level. For more information about this, check out the SCQF website.

Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Colleges and universities will list subjects you'll need for entry to a course. Some useful subjects include:

  • Art and Design

  • Graphic Communication

  • Skills for Work: Creative Industries

  • Foundation Apprenticeship: Creative and Digital Media

You can get a head start in this career by doing a Foundation Apprenticeship in S5 and S6.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification which is the same level as a Higher. You'll also learn new skills and gain valuable experience in a work environment.

Discover what's on offer at your school on  Apprenticeships.scot.

Most fine artists have a degree in Fine Art (SCQF Level 9/10).

To enter a Fine Art degree (SCQF Level 9/10) requires National 5 (SCQF Level 5) qualifications and a minimum of three/four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. You'll also need to have a portfolio of your work.

To enter a postgraduate course (SCQF Level 11) you will usually require an honours degree in a relevant subject.

Qualifications that show creative skills and industry knowledge, such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ Level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification or Diploma in Creative and Cultural Skills (SCQF Level 6/SVQ Level 3).

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses and jobs.

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