Fine artist

contemporary artist painter sculptor experimental film-maker printmaker
Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for fine artist

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would 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 like film or computer graphics

You would 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 like 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 would 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 also attend exhibitions and join artists’ groups.

You might also do other work such as:

  • Be an ‘artist in residence’ and run classes and workshops in places like schools, prisons or hospitals
  • Offer private art classes, or teach in colleges and community education courses
  • Run local art projects

Working conditions


You will 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.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Taking initiative
  • Self esteem
  • Developing a plan
  • Attention to detail
  • Networking
  • Researching
  • Designing
  • Creative

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


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.

Useful subjects

Courses often require

  • English
  • Art and design
  • Maths

Other creative subjects such as photography or graphic communications and social studies subjects such as history may be helpful. 

You will also need

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

Helpful to have

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).