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In-Depth Jobs

Issue no 02, 13-19 April 2024

Careers and opportunities in Visual Arts

Abhineet Kumar


Art is a multifaceted concept, interpreted differently by each individual. Despite this diversity, it serves as a catalyst for dialogue, challenges preconceptions, and prompts contemplation on complex issues. Acting as a potent instrument for social critique, art sheds light on pressing concerns ranging from environmental degradation to political injustices. Within the realm of fine arts, we gain insights into various perspectives, fostering empathy, tolerance, and a deeper grasp of humanity's collective narrative.

Visual arts, as a broad category, encompass all observable art forms. Among these, fine arts constitute a distinct subset traditionally characterized by a focus on aesthetic expression rather than utilitarian function. Though the boundaries between art forms are evolving, recognizing this fundamental distinction aids in navigating the diverse landscape of artistic expression.

While educational systems have historically emphasized fields like medicine and engineering, there's a burgeoning recognition of the value of art as a legitimate career path. Despite this shift, art education at the school level often remains marginalized, relegated to the status of a 'miscellaneous' subject. Exceptions exist, such as certain international curricula and alternative schools, though accessibility remains an issue for many. However, initiatives like the visual arts specialization program at Dr. B R Ambedkar Schools of Specialized Excellence, pioneered by the Delhi government, signify a promising step towards integrating art education more substantially into mainstream curricula. This burgeoning interest among the younger generation in pursuing creative professions that enable both self-expression and societal contribution underscores the evolving landscape of artistic pursuits.

The creative process inherent in art nurtures innovation and problem-solving abilities. Artists constantly challenge conventions, exploring novel concepts and encouraging us to break free from conventional thinking—a skill set valuable across various disciplines. A flourishing art scene not only enriches society but also contributes to its vibrancy. Through galleries, museums, and artist communities, revenue is generated and employment opportunities are created. Moreover, art plays a pivotal role in preserving cultural identity and heritage.

Engagement with art, whether through creation or appreciation, has profound effects on our lives, enhancing our mental well-being. It serves as a platform for self-expression, offering an outlet for emotions and fostering a sense of beauty and wonder in our everyday existence.

Over centuries, painting has been a predominant method for depicting historical events, religious narratives, portraits, and scenes from daily life, while sculptors have manipulated three-dimensional materials to explore the interplay between form and space, incorporating light and shadow to create dynamic interactions with their surroundings. Traditional fine arts encompass practices like drawing and printmaking, later expanding to include commercial arts such as product and graphic design, which often dictate the organizational structure of higher education departments in fine arts.

However, the boundaries of these categories are continually being challenged by contemporary artists. Today, fine arts programs worldwide are integrating digital tools and technologies alongside traditional mediums, enabling artists to explore new avenues like digital art, animation, and virtual reality. Additionally, these programs are equipping graduates with business and marketing skills necessary for navigating the art world, particularly for those pursuing independent careers or seeking to establish a robust online presence.

As distinctions between art forms blur, interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged, fostering innovation and enabling artists to work across mediums. There is also a growing recognition of art as a catalyst for social change, with programs supporting artists in exploring themes of sustainability, social justice, and global awareness through their work.

When considering a Fine Arts education, it's essential to explore various programs that align with your artistic interests and career aspirations. Look for programs that strike a balance between studio practice, art history, and professional development. Regardless of the program format, a strong portfolio showcasing your artistic skills and vision is indispensable. While a traditional fine arts degree can pave the way for a career as a professional artist, there are numerous paths to success. Keep in mind that a fine arts education can also prepare you for careers in graphic design, art therapy, arts administration, museum education, curation, and teaching. By embracing the evolving landscape of fine arts education, you can acquire the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in this dynamic field.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts program aims to provide students with a comprehensive education in the visual arts, nurturing their creative abilities and critical thinking through a blend of theory, practice, and art criticism. Offered by various universities and institutions, this program covers a diverse range of art forms including painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, art history, applied art, visual communication, performing arts, and digital media. Graduates are equipped to pursue lucrative careers as professional artists or further their education in related fields.


The world of fine arts is dynamic and creative, serving as a platform for artists to express thoughts on diverse cultures, societies, and subjects. If you're considering a career in this field, expect an engaging journey characterized by the communication of imaginations, emotions, and ideologies. Alongside strengthening your critical thinking skills, you'll assess, describe, and evaluate authenticity to craft meaningful works of art.


Through the Bachelor of Fine Arts or Visual Arts program, students receive a comprehensive education in the visual arts, emphasizing the development of technical abilities, critical thinking, and artistic expression. Renowned artists guide students, providing mentorship to refine their artistic vision. Graduates emerge as accomplished professionals with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to succeed in various art-related fields or pursue advanced education.


Completing the demanding Bachelor of Fine Arts program provides students with a solid foundation in the visual arts, preparing them for successful careers through creativity, technical proficiency, and critical thinking. Additionally, students enhance their digital arts skills and deepen their understanding of art history and contemporary practices through theoretical debate and analysis.


While some curricula maintain departmental divisions in fine arts categories, institutions increasingly focus on developing students' skill sets. However, many programs in India may lag in imparting digital or new media skills, prioritizing conventional principles of visual artistry. Programs offering degrees in 'Visual Art' tend to be more adaptive to changes in art practices, blurring the distinctions between categories mandated by traditional departmental structures. This adaptability becomes particularly evident at the master's degree level, as undergraduate programs primarily concentrate on cultivating skills for specialized interests.


Following are fine arts colleges or universities that offer degrees in BFA and MFA courses. There are also entrance examinations for admission to these colleges. 


  • Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara
  • Government College Of Fine Art, New Delhi, (University of Delhi)
  • Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru
  • Dr B R  Ambedkar University Delhi 
  • Indira Kala Sangit Viswavidhyalaya, Khairagarh, Chaittisgarh 
  • Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
  • Panjab University, Chandigarh
  • Amity University Noida, Noida
  • Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida
  • Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan
  • College of Arts and Crafts, Patna University, Bihar
  • Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, Hyderabad
  • Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith University, Varanasi
  •  Sir J. J. School of Art, Mumbai
  • Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University
  • Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata
  • Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune
  • Chitkara University, Chandigarh
  • Karnataka ChitrakalaParishath, Bengaluru
  • University of Lucknow, Lucknow

Career Pathways and Opportunities in Visual Arts


For individuals interested in pursuing a career as a visual artist, avenues such as exhibiting in art galleries, art institutions, and museums present significant opportunities. However, success in these contexts often requires entrepreneurial skills that may not be emphasized in traditional art education programs in Indian universities. It's crucial for aspiring artists to actively engage with art exhibition circuits, typically centered in major cities like Delhi or Mumbai, and to seek out grants, fellowships, and other opportunities to increase visibility early in their careers. In addition to honing artistic skills through regular practice, cultivating a critical perspective on the subjects and concepts explored in one's work is essential.


Beyond the realm of fine arts, there are numerous extended fields where visual art skills are highly valued. Graduates of Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs can find employment in advertising agencies, publishing companies, and as art teachers in schools, including government institutions. Those who pass the UGC National Eligibility Test in Visual Arts may also qualify for positions as college professors.


As distinctions between creative disciplines blur, individuals with art education backgrounds can explore career shifts into industries where creativity is highly prized. For instance, transitioning into fields like fashion design or filmmaking is viable after completing a BFA. Institutions like the National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad, National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Delhi, and the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Pune offer postgraduate programs tailored to individuals seeking careers in these areas.

It's worth acknowledging the ever-evolving digital landscape, where staying curious and experimenting with new tools and technologies can expand creative horizons. Embracing the potential of digital media and online platforms enables artists to carve out unique paths in the digital realm, complementing traditional avenues of artistic expression.

(The author is a visual artist and an education. Feedback on this article can be sent to Views expressed are personal.