Art and Design Careers

Many graduates successfully establish a career using their creative skills; to do so takes determination and persistence.

You will need to understand thoroughly the work area that you wish to break into so that you can create your own opportunities and promote yourself effectively. It is also useful to find out about creative career trends so you know what you are likely to face.

Investigate opportunities 

The creative industries cover a wide variety of areas including: animation, advertising, computer games, craft, cultural heritage, design, digital media, interactive media, fine art, fashion, film, photoimaging, textiles and TV. 

There is a great deal of overlap and graduates frequently establish creative careers that are slightly outside of the art discipline they have studied. When considering which direction you'd like to take your creative career, it's important to explore the full range of creative opportunities that may be available to you. The following guides cover the main things you need to know if you'd like to work in any of the areas mentioned. They give suggestions about the following:

  • The type of companies that you may find work with.
  • Where to look to find information about specific roles.
  • How you might gain work experience and boost your portfolio.
  • How and where vacancies may be advertised.
  • Useful websites and organisations which can provide more information and support.

Our guides to art and design careers

Many creative professionals are self employed. Our handout on business skills highlights the main things you need to know, and organisations that can help, if you are thinking about starting a creative business.  

Know about creative career trends

A major survey called Creative Graduates Creative Futures investigated the career paths of creative graduates five years after they left university and found that:  

  • Three out of four graduates had worked in the creative industries.
  • Three quarters were satisfied with their work situation.
  • Four out of five felt that their work related significantly to art, craft, design and media.

It also found that it is common for creative professionals to work freelance and to develop a unique, portfolio career, especially as so many roles are not formally advertised and emerge on a temporary, project basis. Read more about creative career trends so that you know what you'll face and so you can think ahead.

Find out what individual graduates have done

This is a really good way to develop your own career ideas, to get tips on how to go about making your ideas real and to find out about the challenges you may face so you can figure out how to prepare for them.

There are a range of sites featuring the career stories of creative graduates. Some really good ones include:  

Promote yourself effectively

When seeking work, it is essential that you think about how your creative work and skills would be of benefit to the customers, clients or employers. You must also be able to demonstrate this in the promotional materials you choose to show them.

Promotional materials can include: CVs, cover letters, showreels, portfolios, websites, screenshots.

  • For examples of creative CVs have a look at The University of the Arts online gallery or the Creative CV guide (available in The Careers Centre).  
  • For showreels, read Helen Brunsdon's (Development Executive at Aardman Animation Ltd) tips on Skillset's website. 
  • For cover letters, see the examples in our CV guide (PDF 105K, Downloads file).  

You need to be able to speak fluently about your work and capabilities when meeting employers or commissioners for the first time, for example at interviews, networking events or when making speculative phone calls. Our following guides may help:

Get more help

For more help speak to a Careers Adviser. Also visit the Creative Employability Studio on the ground floor of the School of Art and Design (MK) or view their work opportunities on Facebook.