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Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: < 5,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: Varies to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief We see artists' work displayed in galleries, on greeting cards, on coffee tables, in public spaces and even in mining company board rooms. In South Australia, there are approximately 1,100 artists. The main age group is 45-54 years of age with majority of South Australian artists being females. Around half of Artists are working on a full-time basis largely working in the Cultural and Recreational Services industry.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Artist

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No matter what medium artists choose to work with, their art continues to challenge, entertain and inspire communities around the world. Artists express thoughts, feelings, images and ideas through different creative mediums. They can use materials such as oils, water colours, acrylics, inks, plaster, clay, multi media technologies or recycled objects to either paint, sculpt, model or illustrate works of art.

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Not quite the career you are looking for? Please try the related course profiles below:

Artistic and Creative

Painters and Decorator,  Landscape Gardener,  Baker and Pastry Chef,  Event Coordinator,  Florist,  Dancer and Choreographer,  Music Professionals,  Beauty Therapist,  Interior Decorator,  Designers for Theatre, Performance and Events,  Marketing and Advertising Specialists,  Copywriter,  Sound Engineer / Sound Technician,  Signwriter,  Webmaster / Website Administrator,  Make-up Artist,  Computer Animator,  Graphic and Multimedia Designer,  Photographer,  Set Builders, Props Makers, Scenic Artists,  Fashion Designer,  Artist,  Hat Maker or Milliner,  Hairdresser,  Film, Stage, TV and Radio Director,  Jeweller

Practical and Manual

Food and Beverage Attendant,  Painters and Decorator,  Landscape Gardener,  Miners and Drillers,  Cabinet Maker and Furniture Maker,  Baker and Pastry Chef,  Nursery Worker,  Management Consultant,  Floor Finisher,  Cheesemaker,  Animal Attendant,  Signwriter,  Horticultural Tradesperson (Gardener),  Viticulturist and Vineyard Hand,  Butcher,  Set Builders, Props Makers, Scenic Artists,  Aircraft Maintenance Engineer,  Pest and Weed Technician / Controller,  Plumber,  Artist,  Electrician,  Shearer,  Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic,  Carpenter,  Bricklayer,  Aquaculture Farmer and Technician,  Computer Service Technician,  Wool Classers,  Jeweller

Education Requirements

There are no educational requirements to become an artist, though there are many formal qualifications available in fine and visual arts to enhance your skills and your employment prospects. Currently 28% of the Industry have Advanced Diploma or Diplomas, 12% have Bachelor degrees, 9% have Graduate Diplomas or Graduate Certificates and 9% have Certificate III or IV. So while 38% of the industry have no formal post school qualifications it is still strongly recommended that further study is undertaken to improve your chances of gaining employment in the Industry.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Certificate III Program in Visual Arts (Digital Arts), Certificate IV Program in 3D Ceramics and Sculpture and Certificate IV Program in Visual Arts (Photomedia).

Flinders University offers a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Diploma of Visual Arts where you study concurrently at both the University and TAFE SA to complete both Awards.

Still Unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as Screen Printing, Stencil Art or Experimental Drawing, Check the website for the full list of short courses.

Career Path

Artists need strong skills in selling and promoting their work. Those working in their own studios may work seven days a week, doing a mixture of administration duties and creating pieces for exhibition and also mass produced items for commercial retail. This takes efficiency and organisation.


Cultural and Recreational Services,  Retail Trade


Bonnie Kain – Multimedia
“TAFE is great for people who want to learn an applied skill and by nature is based more on hands-on work and less on theoretical studies”.
Bonnie began thinking about studying Multimedia after realising that it would enable her to combine her artistic skills and problem solving skills into one challenging profession.

Having completed a three year Bachelor of Visual Arts Degree, Bonnie was looking for a course that could deliver the required content in less time and for Bonnie, this meant that the obvious choice was to study the two year Diploma of Multimedia at TAFE.

Bonnie says that she found TAFE to be rewarding, both socially and educationally. “The group of people I studied with were all supportive of one another, which helped when deadlines were getting close and the stress levels began to rise,” she said. Bonnie especially enjoyed being part of a small class during her course, rather than attending lectures with “a hundred other people”.

Having already completed tertiary studies, Bonnie thought that she knew what she was in for and while the work load for the course was much more than she had expected, Bonnie says that the necessity to constantly produce quality work and meet deadlines at TAFE provided her with a great starting point for the requirements of the industry.

“I felt that the skills I was learning were going to be valuable for any modern industry, where computer based design was required,” she said.

In the future Bonnie’s goal is to work towards developing her knowledge of various scripting languages that will further broaden the range of skills she can bring to a project. “TAFE is great for people who want to learn an applied skill and by nature is based more on hands-on work and less on theoretical studies,” she said. “The course reaffirmed my love of learning and fortunately the multimedia industry requires you to be constantly broadening your knowledge of new tools and modes of working.”

Nature of the Job

''Often a painting doesn't start out as an intellectual exercise. It starts out as a response to something happening in the natural world around me, or to a matter of social concern such as the Tiananmen Square massacre in China,'' says a local artist. Some artists choose to sketch an idea before actualising it; others work using intuition, imagination or develop ideas based on previous works. Many works of art are conceived as a response to social and cultural events and as such, artists are important chroniclers of real and imagined history. Think about famous events and people. The Mona Lisa or Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo may well be influenced by artist's interpretations. Other works are purely experimental and push the boundaries of what we perceive as art. Whether its a painted Campbell's soup can or half a cow pickled in formaldehyde exhibited by controversial British artist, Damien Hirst, artists are creatively reinventing the rules all the time.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Artists create works that communicate an impression or an idea through painting, drawing, printmaking, carving, sculpting, photography, film-making, music, acting and dancing. Artists may concentrate on a specific area of work or may use a combination of these techniques.

They first and foremost need to have an artistic ability. It is essential that they good hand-eye coordination as well as creativity and self-discipline. It is also sometimes necessary to have good promotional and marketing skills and a knowledge of business/management skills, if artists intend to be self-employed.

Typical Occupational Example

''I get called to paint murals on walls, do workshops with school kids, public art commissions, or paint on canvas. I just got back from Los Angeles where I painted the set for a new movie" says local artist Daniel. There are many opportunities for artists besides the traditional arena of exhibition work. Be prepared to look at wider avenues of work such as community and public art, crafts for tourists, teaching, art reviewing, gallery employment or art administration. For example, some commercial companies like BHP/Billiton have commissioned artists to paint scenes reflecting the changes in the mining industry. Employment prospects for visual artists are growing in the areas of community and public art. Artists also need to be multi-skilled, especially using the latest technologies. For example, rather than designing a series of sculptures, it helps if you're able to animate them as well. Aboriginal art is another great growth area and expenditure by international visitors in the purchase of craft and artworks is substantial. ''According to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, on an annualised basis, total overseas expenditure on art and craft items was $296 million of which $155 million was on Aboriginal art and craft,'' says an Industry professional.

Jam Factory Contemporary Craft and Design
Phone: (08) 8410 0727

National Association for the Visual Arts
Phone: (02) 9368 1900

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (SA/NT)
Phone: (08) 8223 6055
Internet Address:

Earning Potential

''Don't expect to earn a living from art. You must do it for other reasons other than monetary gain or your ego. I believe there are three reasons for creating art: for healing, consciousness-raising and empowering people,'' says one professional artist. Many artists are self employed and earn money through art commissions or by selling work on consignment through galleries or private dealers. Some artists though need to earn money through other means of employment. Grants, community project funding, art prizes, free studio space or residencies may be available through organisations. The average national annual income for an artist in this country is $45,000, with more established artists able to command greater returns.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online