Are you creative? Are you inspired by collaborating with other creative minds? Do you value design and innovation? If so, then a career in the arts may be for you.

Pursuing a career in the arts requires creativity and persistence. The path isn’t usually clear-cut, but you will be able to shape your own career.

Fiona working on a garnment
Fiona Adjei Boateng ’19 interned with Danielle Brown, a fashion household name in Ghana, that produces African-inspired contemporary pieces.

Explore Careers

The liberal arts provide the most solid foundation upon which to build a career in architecture. Nearly every Colgate course of study — art, history, environmental science, art history, mathematics, language, sociology, anthropology, computer science, to name just a few — informs the field of architecture. Architects’ work addresses the past (historic preservation) and the future (sustainability), while confronting present-day design needs in the civic and private spheres. After Colgate, the next step, education-wise, is an M.Arch: a three-year program for those who hold undergraduate degrees in disciplines other than architecture (to explore graduate programs, check out StudyArchitecture.com). Lastly, be sure to go abroad — Florence! Venice! Rome! The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture is a great resource to learn more about the field of architecture!

Websites:

Arts administrators run the business side of nonprofit arts organizations. They wear many hats: event planner, marketer, public relations specialist, fundraiser, educator, and are committed to sustaining art in all forms; they run art councils/public sectors, art festivals, theaters, museums, galleries, dance companies, media centers, concert venues, performing arts centers, orchestras/opera companies, and more.

Within arts administration, you can combine a passion for the arts with your skillset. For example, if you have an interest in law or policy, consider working with a nonprofit arts organization on the law and compliance team. Interested in marketing? Consider working on marketing and promotion materials with an arts organization. For more information, visit Americans for the Arts.

Teaching Art

Art teachers provide art education in public or private schools, institutions of higher learning, community centers, or even human service organizations. Although teaching in a public K-12 school will require a teaching certificate, this may not be the case in private K-12 settings, college continuing education programs, museum education departments, community arts centers, or even service organizations focused on youth or community outreach. Teaching at a college or similar institution usually requires an MFA, but sometimes artist educators are hired based on their exhibition record or artistic merits. Art teachers often have a specific focus area including but not limited to ceramics, textiles, painting, sculpture, and drawing. Visit National Art Education Association for more information on the industry.

Museum or Gallery Technician

A museum or gallery technician may perform various duties depending on the scope of the position and the needs of the organization. Generally, the role involves preparing, installing, uninstalling, restoring, and maintaining art objects in various media. Other similar titles may be art handler, registrar, conservator, preparator, or archivist. These positions usually require a combination of experience handling artwork and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or museum studies coursework. Depending on the requirements of the position, an advanced degree may also be necessary. Visit the American Alliance of Museums to stay up-to-date on current events or to learn more about the field.

Curator

A curator generally oversees and manages a collection, conducts research, makes recommendations for acquisitions, selects for exhibition artists and artwork, and often initiates the publication of supportive materials. Exact roles depend on the size and focus of the organization. At smaller organizations, curators may oversee an entire collection, whereas at larger organizations curators may specialize in a specific discipline or period. It is important for curators to develop communication skills as they are constantly communicating with various stakeholders. Generally, an MA or PhD is preferred for these roles, but smaller institutions may only require a bachelor's degree.

Commissioned Art

Some artists make a living by creating work on commission, often being hired to create a specific piece for individuals, businesses, and government or public entities. Public art is a common form of commissioned work, where artists create site-specific work on permanent or temporary display. Public art opportunities usually require a formal proposal. Check out The National Association of Independent Artists and the Alliance of Artists Communities for additional resources and exploration. The Harpo Foundation is a great resource for grants and fellowships!

Art Therapy

The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) defines art therapy as a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. Often, practicing art therapy requires graduate-level education and passing certification tests required by state or other local government entities.

Art Authentication

Art authenticators are typically specialized in a particular style or artist. Art authenticators work to combat the unlawful transfer of artwork from countries, otherwise known as art forgers. Potential buyers and sellers might require the services of an art authenticator or art historian. Those interests in art authentication must have the necessary research and investigative skills. For more research, check out Art Experts Art Authentication and Appraisal.

Art Librarian/Visual Resource Curator

Librarians typically oversee the cataloging, documentation, storage, and retrieval of visual resources in a wide variety of settings (nonprofit organizations, for-profit organizations, art libraries, educational institutions/higher education). Librarians can have a focus area based on a time period or topic. Oftentimes this requires graduate work in Art History/Library Science. Check out the American Library Association (ALA), Visual Resources Association, or the Association for Information Science and Technology for further exploration.

Auctioneer/Art Sales

Selling a piece of art is about how one can creatively describe the work and create an exciting environment during an auction to drive up sales. This avenue requires both research and interpersonal skills to best communicate the value of the artwork. Working in an auction house can look different: one can either be hands-on in terms of the artwork and interaction with clients or one can work more behind the scenes to complete the administrative responsibilities. The National Auctioneers Association is a great place to continue learning more about this industry.

Art Tech

Art tech is a relatively new field that focuses on digitizing the online market for a virtual consumer experience. This includes bringing everything to a one-stop platform or database that focuses on consumer accessibility and a more streamlined experience. Check out Artsy, a global platform dedicated to the online art world.

Fashion Design

Fashion Design includes many different avenues; product development, entrepreneurship, fabric development, consumer science, and retailers. Those passionate about fashion may choose to be hands-on in terms of developing new materials or may be interested in working behind the scenes to ensure the company is running efficiently. It is important to stay up-to-date on the various fashion/design trends by following current media outlets and trends. The Fashion Group International Foundation (FGI) is a great resource with articles related to the current fashion industry.

Theatre

Performers who are met with success in the field of theater have spent years perfecting the nuances of their craft through hard work and practice. Students of theatre should be ready to accept harsh critical feedback in the wake of auditions, collaborate with others, and tap into energy and be extroverted when on the job. Success in acting, producing, or directing could spell great fiscal gain as well as fame and the joy of living your passion every day.

Production

Behind the scenes, leadership is all about bringing a vision to life and communicating that vision to the cast and crew members. Those interested in working backstage may consider directing, set design, stage management, casting, production management, costume design, hair/make-up, special effects, prop management, and many more. Collaboration between crew members is a must to produce a successful production. If interested in this avenue, consider diving into the Directors Guild of America (DGA) to learn more about creative rights.

Dance

To succeed as a professional dancer one must be willing to work immensely hard to perfect the craft. The thrill of triumph after dedicating one’s life to practice, such as dance, makes it time well-spent for many aspiring young dancers. Dancers can pursue different professions, or juggle these different avenues at once including performer, choreographer, and teacher. Dance can be found in many different environments including contemporary/modern based companies, performing art studios, high school, college, or professional sports dance teams. Check out DanceUSA and the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) for more information.

Music

Music is a unique profession in that it can successfully work to touch the lives of those that listen. Whether one is trying to be a rock star or a member of an orchestra, a considerable amount of time will be spent in solitude practicing. To succeed in music is to be the best you can possibly be at your chosen instrument. There are different avenues one can explore including performance, education, conducting/composing, editing, or the business side of the music industry. Interested in music education? Explore the National Association for Music Education. Interested in pursuing the recording industry? Refer to the Recording Industry Association of America for more information. For a broader overview of the music industry, check out Musicians Way.

Talent Agency

Talent agencies/book agencies are all about identifying the next big thing and taking the necessary steps to make it a hit. Identifying talent could be for movies, commercials, sports advertisements, endorsements, or dance companies. Oftentimes, agents are working to book actors, musicians, performers, writers, and directors. It is important to stay up-to-date in the entertainment industry by attending festivals, conferences, or networking with professionals in the field. Becoming familiar with large agencies such as William Morris Endeavor (WME), Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and United Talent Agency (UTA) will be important in understanding how the industry runs.

Digital Media Design

Digital media design, also known as Multimedia Design, is the creation of media applications for web, interactive media, mobile devices, animation, 3D modeling, and digital film and television production.

Skilled designers are trained to work in a variety of settings as graphic designers, interactive designers, desktop publishers, and visual designers. A helpful resource to learn about careers in design: The American Institute of Graphic Arts: Career Guide.

Digital Filmmaking and Video Production

Digital filmmaking and video production require skill in using production equipment and practical knowledge of video fundamentals such as lighting, control room operation, animated graphics, video camera operation, and sound editing. Once developed, multimedia artists and video technicians are able to record and mix audio tracks for media projects or incorporate design and motion graphics into films, commercials, and music videos.
 
The filmmaking industry is a highly competitive, innovative, and technical business that involves the production of featured films, documentaries, commercials, made-for-television movies, unscripted TV, and music programming and video. Preparing for a career in film can be ambiguous because film jobs and internships are varied and can be divided into five distinct phases of production: development, pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution.

Film Production Stages:

Development

The stage where potential projects are selected or written. This stage includes reading and developing scripts, brainstorming ideas, securing financial arrangements, and assembling a creative team. Being a visionary is a strength for those involved in the development of film production. Those who enjoy communicating and storytelling or enjoy planning and organizing might thrive in this type of environment.
Entry-level positions: Staff Writer, Personal Assistant

Pre-Production

The stage where most of the creative decisions are determined. This stage includes hiring the cast and production crew, rewriting the script or treatment, selecting a location, and constructing a set design. This is where everything is put under a microscope: the script is broken into individual scenes and storyboards, actors/actresses mix and match for the best casting decisions, and set designers ensure that the set, props, and costumes are consistent with a specific time period or character's personality. Attention to detail is necessary for these positions. 
Entry-level positions: Script Reader, Copywriter, Screenwriter, Executive Producer, Casting Director, Line Producer, Location Manager

Media

Develop plans and research the media strategy; meet with media reps from various sites. Creating a clear strategy to engage a specific audience is necessary for this avenue. Media representatives are needed in many different environments including small start-up companies as well as large corporations.  
Entry-level positions: Assistant Media Planners/Buyers, Social Media Manager, Communications Manager, Content Specialist

Production or Principle Photography

The stage where the production is filmed in a studio or on location. Each environment will look different based on the needs of the production. For example, filming on a reality TV show will be different compared to a game show or documentary. Communication and collaboration are important in these environments because everyone needs to be on the same page.
Entry-level positions: Production Assistant (PAs), Camera Assistant, Key Grip, Gaffer, Location Assistant, Production Secretary, Script Supervisor, Propmaster, Boom operator

Post-Production

The stage where the production is edited to create a final product. This stage can include adding music, visual effects, and editing sound/film. 
Entry-level positions: Video Logger, Second Assistant Editor, Colorist, Visual Effects Producer, Dialogue Editor, Sound Editor

Distribution

The stage where promotional materials are generated to market the project. This stage includes selling posters, merchandise, and commercial time. Being able to identify a specific audience and strategically market materials towards that population is an important strategy in this area. 
Entry-level positions: Public Relations Assistant, Marketing Representative

Helpful Resources to Learn More:

Prepare for Jobs and Internships

Information, tips, and strategies to help prepare you as an undergraduate.

In addition to the standard sections of Education, Honors/Awards, Activities, and Professional Experience, you may choose to include sections for published recognition of your work (“Bibliography”), exhibitions in which you have participated (“Exhibitions”), and publications, productions, or shows in which you have been involved (for the performing arts and for writers/authors). For artists seeking careers in academia, a Curriculum Vitae is preferred and may be up to four pages in length.

Individuals in the fine and performing arts may benefit from a résumé styled to feature unique information such as performance roles, art shows, or specialized training. For more creative fields, consider showcasing your creative skillset by adding design elements to your resume. Make an appointment with a career advisor to develop a strategy to best present your creative experience.

ARTS 100, Introduction to Studio Art

ARTS 201, Digital Studio: Animation, Image, and Sound Manipulation

ARTS 202, Digital Studio: Making, Modeling, and Gaming

ARTS 211, Drawing I

ARTS 221, Video Art I

ARTS 231, Painting I

ARTS 241, Photography I

ARTS 251, Printmaking I

ARTS 263, Sculpture: Surface and Form

ARTS 264, Sculpture: Material and Process

ARTS 271, Architectural Design I

ARTS 287, History & Theory of Cinema

ARTS 302, Digital Studio II

ARTS 312Drawing II

ARTS 322, Video Art II

ARTS 332, Painting II

ARTS 342, Photography II

Printmaking II

ARTS 364, Sculpture II

ARTS 405, Issues in Recent Art

FMST 210: Global Cinema

FMST/FREN 233, Intro to French Cinema

FMST 320, European Cinemas

FMST 333, Documentary Film

FMST 340, Music, Film, & Media

FMST 350, Hollywood and the World

FMST 400, Special topics in FMST

GERM 222, German Expressionist Cinema

ITAL 223, Italian Cinema

Numerous Art History courses

Desired Skills and Characteristics:

  • Problem solving 
  • Creativity 
  • Technical skills in AutoCAD, Revit, Rhinoceros, V-Ray, Illustrator, Photoshop

 

A helpful resource to learn architecture vocabulary from CurbedA Guide to Architect Terms and Phrases 

Career Stages - The American Institute of Architects

Consider taking summer courses in architecture at Syracuse, Columbia, or Harvard.

Important Publications:

ArchDaily
Yale Architectural Journal
Harvard Design
AIArchitect

Desired Skills and Characteristics:

  • Event management and planning (securing venues, scheduling, security, catering, etc.)
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Ensuring legal compliance
  • Strong written skills (writing management reports and contracts) 
  • Fundraising and budgetary skills
  • Understanding and appreciation of the arts
  • Cultural competence 

 

A helpful resource to learn arts administration vocabulary: Arts and Planning Toolkit
 

Important Publication:

Art News

Desired Skills and Characteristics:

  • writing, editing, and new media technology skills
  • creativity
  • attention to detail
  • knowledge of media theory and history
  • problem-solving skills
  • a "can do" attitude
  • team player
  • enthusiasm
  • ability to work under pressure with strict deadlines
  • technical and software skills (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Windows Movie Maker, Final Cut Pro).

 

Tips for Breaking into the Film Industry:

  • Get a Production Assistant (PA) Internship
  • Learn the industry
  • Helpful resources to learn film vocabulary: The New York Film Academy Glossary of Film Terms and Media Frontier Digital Terminology
  • Network
  • Develop a creative portfolio: Begin a portfolio or create a media page that demonstrates your visual expression and imagination. For example, include images that convey a story, such as paintings, drawings, or photographic images (similar to storyboard); creative writing pieces, film scripts, theater scripts, film/video animation or documentary (no more than 10-15 minutes total running time). Sample website creators: WordPressClippings.me, Pressfolios, Portfoliolounge
  • Consider developing a professional social media page to market the work you have created. Social media is a great way to connect with people in the field, while learning about different projects they are working on.

 

The Film and Media Studies Department (FMST) offers courses in media theory, production, and sociopolitical and cultural experiences. Please visit the FMST webpage for more information.

Colgate's Digital Learning and Media Center (DLMC) hires student workers as media interns and media monitors. To learn more, visit the DLMC homepage.

Desired Skills and Characteristics:

  • Willing to be working in an all hands on deck situation 
  • Willing to take on seasonal roles (event-based companies) - crunch periods that everyone needs to contribute 
  • Works well under pressure, fast-paced, can meet deadlines
  • Cultural awareness 
  • Excellent communication skills (different stakeholders, written for contract work) 
  • Decision making 

A helpful resource to learn arts administration vocabulary: MoMA Learning

Alumni Advice

Advice from alumni who work in this industry.

headshot of Ming Peiffer ’10

Ming Peiffer ’10

Current Title and Organization:​ Co-Artistic Director/ Resident Playwright, Spookfish Theatre Company

Major at Colgate: Theater Arts and Mandarin Chinese

Advanced Degrees: MFA in Playwriting, Columbia University

What do you currently do?

I am the Co-Artistic Director, Resident Playwright, and Founder of the critically-acclaimed Spookfish Theatre Company. I am also a current NYTW 2050 Fellow, and a member of the Obie-award winning playwriting group Ensemble Studio Theater's Youngblood.

Major responsibilities include:

  • Author and produce grants, proposals, press packets, and copy for website.
  • Co-design all media including posters, programs, and advertisements.
  • Develop events (productions and fundraisers) from conception to completion.
  • Author performance texts.
  • Edit performance texts.
  • Organize mailing list and database.
  • Work with primary group of artists to develop original artwork for company.

What was your first position out of Colgate and what did you do in that role?

I started my own company, Spookfish Theatre Company, in 2010. I served in my current position as the Co-Artistic Director and Resident Playwright. Responsibilities were the same as above.

I also worked as a Teaching Artist at The China Institute of America, where I developed and ran a Theatre/Chinese Language learning program for Children Ages 4-8, in addition to a program geared towards Highschool students.

How can students prepare themselves while at Colgate to work in your field?

Read as many performance texts as possible. Participate in University Theater productions. Try to create your own work and organize theatrical events outside of the opportunities provided by the university and student theater community (ex: I directed a play set in one of the Townhouses.) If possible, go abroad with a non-Colgate abroad program focused on theatre arts. For example, Tisch NYU has programs affiliated with The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London and The Shanghai Theatre Academy in Shanghai, China. Both excellent programs. During Summer, enroll in any additional classes and/or intensive summer programs available for Theatre Arts. Some programs have a more all-encompassing approach to theater, while others specialize in specific elements of the craft (ex. acting intensives, playwriting workshops). I attended the Stella Adler Summer Acting Program, but there are many to choose from based on your needs. Make sure to fully research any program you are planning on applying to, or feel free to reach out to me with questions.

What extracurricular activities, associated with your profession or not, were you involved with while at Colgate?

University Theater, The Swinging 'Gates, Kappa Kappa Gamma

Carter Cooper '13, principal/operations, Riggs Cooper Art Partners; Brian Hinrichs '07, executive director, Bangor Symphony Orchestra; Jamil Jude '09, artistic director, True Colors Theater

Find Opportunities

The recruiting timeline for the arts varies greatly, due to the number of art sub-industries. Many jobs in the arts are acquired through personal connections and networking. To learn more about networking and conducting informational interviews, explore the Career Services Toolkit or schedule to meet with a career adviser. 

Visit Firsthand.com for information about companies and careers. The site provides the industry context needed to identify your best job opportunities. Use the Research Companies tab to browse popular industries, or search for key terms using the search bar. You will need to create an account using your Colgate e-mail address to view this content.

The recruitment cycle of a typical hiring process for film jobs and internships begins in January and terminates in June.

Job Search Resources:

Mandy's Film and TV Production Directory
Motion Picture Association of America: An advocate of the motion picture industry. Offers student internships and full-time employment.
National Association of Television Program Executives: Offers free student career workshops, educational videos, jobs, and internships.
Entertainment Industry Council: Provides information and awareness of health and social issues among entertainment industries and a formal internship program.
The Academy of Television Arts & Science (EMMY): Nonprofit organization that offers a format internship program and student scholarships.
Directors Guild of America: A comprehensive resource to review other professional associations, film festivals, conferences, film schools, and training programs.
Production Beast: A niche job search platform for production work as a freelancer or a crew
Staff Me Up: A niche job board for production work highlighting both short and long term commitments 
Zerply: A niche job board for full time/contract work within VFX and CG projects, film, gaming, and advertising

 

Archinect: A job search platform dedication to the field of architecture

College Art Association Job Board

Employers with significant representation:

For Studio space/opportunities/fellowships/residencies:

General Graduate Program Resources:

Art Therapy Graduate Program:

Colgate Handshake Opportunities

Check Colgate Handshake, Colgate's internship and job database, for opportunities that may interest you in this field.

Connect to Careers

Latest stories about internships, workshops, professional networks, and more.