The arts communications – Career Watch 2002 – Careers 2002

The arts communications – Career Watch 2002 – Careers 2002 – Statistical Data Included

THE IMAGE OF THE STARVING ARTIST, THE OUT-OF-work actor, and the struggling writer just might be a thing of the past. Full-time jobs are available for the artistically inclined–many with good salaries and benefits. (Some artists and writers, however, do opt for a flexible, freelance lifestyle.)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in the arts are expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations over the next eight years.

“There are definitely opportunities out there,” says Elisa Kurland Klyman, director of career services at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. “But the really hot fields are those related to new media and design.”

The digital revolution spurred tremendous growth in fields like Web design, says Maryellen Schroeder, director of career services at Massachusetts College of Art. And although many dot-com companies have gone under, non-tech businesses will always have a need for talented graphic artists.

Marc Dennis, an assistant art professor at Elmira College in New York, says companies are looking for creative people who understand a visual medium and are capable of keeping eyes glued to the screen with dazzling graphics and good design. “Many companies are eager to hire qualified people with art, art history, and design backgrounds,” he says.


While only a talented few will ever win a Tony, exhibit in a major gallery, or write the Great American Novel, there are plenty of arts jobs that, while perhaps less glamorous, can offer job security and a steady income.

“Students need to remember that jobs in the arts aren’t just the ones that are out front–on stage, on exhibit, in concert. That’s only a small percentage,” says Nancy Shankman, director of creative and performing arts for Bronx high schools in New York. Shankman likes to quote the motto of a New York City high school for the arts: “It ain’t just singin’ and dancin’.”

Some artistic types end up working in unusual or nontraditional fields. Schroeder has placed jewelry design graduates, who are experts at manipulating small pieces of metal, at companies that make musical instruments such as flutes and clarinets. She also has placed fine arts graduates–who are adept at drawing and sculpting–at medical centers where they create prosthetic body parts.

“Lots of people imagine the artist as a person with a beret on his head, standing in front of a blank canvas,” says Schroeder. “An artist is actually a problem-solver. You take that artistic skill and solve problems about how to manipulate materials to express your vision.”


A higher education isn’t a necessity for all artists–it depends on your interests and aspirations. A talented actor, dancer, or musician may decide to try his or her luck on the audition circuit, waiting tables or working as a temp to make ends meet. Others may go to a conservatory or a college with a strong performing arts program. Many aspiring writers, filmmakers, and public relations specialists hone their communications skills at liberal arts colleges. According to the BLS, most writing jobs require a liberal arts degree with a major such as communications, journalism, or English.

Schroeder believes college provides an atmosphere that fosters all young creative people. “Being around a community of artists and instructors will help you develop your own aesthetic and abilities,” she says. She adds that a healthy dose of liberal arts courses in literature, philosophy, and history can only fortify an artist’s sensibility and marketability.

Regardless of your career path, Schroeder advises that once you get to campus, stop by the career office early. “We tell people to come in their freshman year,” she says. “Take advantage of the internship and freelance opportunities while you’re in school.”

Traci Mosser



AGE: 34


JOB: President and executive chef, Today’s Gourmet, a catering company

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Villanova University in Pennsylvania; associate’s degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Seattle. To get their training, many chefs study culinary arts at two- or four-year colleges or take advantage of apprenticeship programs offered by culinary institutes.

SALARY: According to, the median annual salary for executive chefs is $66,172.

ON THE JOB: As a personal chef, Tarditi drives her van, stocked with ingredients and kitchen equipment, to the homes of her clients where she prepares one- to two- weeks worth of gourmet meals, which she leaves in the refrigerator or freezer. When she first meets with clients, Tarditi takes a 26-page profile that will help her keep track of likes, dislikes, food allergies, and dietary restrictions. A typical day begins with an early morning trip to the grocery store where Tarditi will stock up on supplies. She may also have to stop by a specialty store to pick up unusual foods, such as the lean cuts of alligator, ostrich, and snake meat, which she serves to clients who have had heart problems. Tarditi says it’s important that chefs are physically prepared for spending a long time on their feet. It can also be hot, dangerous work. “It’s a physically and mentally demanding job that takes a lot of adrenaline.” Since Tarditi is her own boss, she must also keep up with accounting, promotion, and updating her Web s ite ( “It’s hard to find enough time to do everything.”

STARTING OUT: Tarditi was an event planner for Villanova until she decided she’d rather be a caterer than hire them.

REWARDS: “One of my clients was this Microsoft millionaire in her 40’s who was living on popcorn and Diet Coke. After hiring me, suddenly she was coming home to jumbo shrimp with two-color fettuccine with boursin cheese sauce and fresh mushrooms. It’s a good feeling to know that every night she’s going to get a great-tasting, nutritious meal I’ve prepared.”

CHALLENGES: “You may get some negative, as well as positive, feedback. People eat three times a day, and they’re not shy about sharing their dissatisfaction with a meal. They want the best.”

MORE INFO: The Art Institutes,

Traci Mosser



AGE: 32


JOB: Architect at Mekus Studios Ltd.

EDUCATION: Tsai holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture from Yale University. To become a licensed architect, one must pass an eight-part exam (four to eight hours for each part) after a three-year internship at a firm.

SALARY: The median annual salary for architects is $49,233.

ON THE JOB: Tsai has helped design schools, hospitals, and houses that are functional, safe, and meet the economic needs of her clients. Currently, she is “space-planning” for the U.S. government–designing train station interiors for the Department of Transportation. A recent project required that Tsai work with a team of three on determining wall and door types, sound resistances of walls, electrical requirements, cabinetry specifications, and placement of furniture and equipment.

Incorporating both hand-drawing and computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), Tsai creates an initial design for clients. Early in the process, she may use tracing paper over computer drawings. In follow-up meetings, the clients “red-line” her drawings, suggesting changes on views, lighting, and position of workstations.

STARTING OUT: “I considered myself an artist at 10, and then in high school I discovered I was good at math and science. In college, I tried a pre-med chemistry class, but I couldn’t measure a gram of salt exactly, so I immediately switched to architecture.”

REWARDS: Tsai finds talking to clients and translating their ideas into art satisfying. Once, she watched the construction of a house she’d designed. “That was fun,” she says. The carpenters asked her questions, an seeing her art become brick was another regarding level of the process. Constructed projects “never come out exactly as you think.”

CHALLENGES: Tsai once spent months designing stairs for an eight-story building. “Each floor was a different height,” she says. Accurate math skills are essential for architects: Tsai had to figure in landings and calculate the exact height of each step, making it a complex project.

MORE INFO: Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture,

Jami Dittus


In other fields going on a job interview means brining a copy of your resume and perhaps a list of professional references in the arts and communications fields you will be expected to have a portfolio–which is basically a collection of samples of your best work (Writers will need a photocopied collection of writing samples called “clips”; broadcaster will need tapes.) The portfolio allows a prospective employer to glimpse you talent and see your style. For tips on putting together a portfolio go to



AGE: 31


JOB: Acts in plays, movies, and other forms of media. Played “Tatoo” opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the movie Shaft.

EDUCATION: Attended the American Academy for Dramatic Arts; took acting courses at HB Studios in New York. Many actors gain experience through local and regional productions. Some choose to get formal training at colleges or dramatic arts schools.

SALARY: The average unionized actor receives less than $10,000 a year. (Royo took home about $12,000 for his role in Shaft, but says aspiring actors should expect a long struggle until they’ve made their mark.)

ON THE JOB: “I have at least three or four auditions a week for television, theater, and film. I’m trying to get myself on television or in print until I get a big movie and make big money. I also read scripts and produce my own short films. My next role will be in an independent film produced by Michael Mfurne called Die Blessed. I am also shooting an Internet soap opera in North Carolina.”

STARTING OUT: “You have to believe that no one can stop you from doing whatever you set out to do. You also have to take care of yourself and be disciplined. In acting, your body is a commodity. You can’t be drinking or doing drugs because that takes years off. I want to act for as long as I can.”

REWARDS: “The highlight for me was the moment when, for the first time in my career, I could say that acting was paying the bills. Working with [directors] Spike Lee and John Singleton in the period of one year was also fantastic.”

CHALLENGES: “I’ve faced many challenges being a black man in the business. It’s not as hard anymore, but the industry does have a perception of the parts that black actors can play. Until you become a big name actor like Will Smith or Denzel Washington, you end up as the convict or the drug dealer until someone takes a chance on your playing a different part. Another challenging part has been staying focused and realizing I might not get a part here or there. If I don’t work for a month, I need to be able to get money and be humble enough to do odd jobs. If I don’t act for a long time, I do construction. The hardest thing isn’t getting that one part, it’s to keep going to auditions to keep getting those parts.”

MORE INFO: Screen Actor’s Guild,

Yojairy Sanchez



AGE: 33


JOB: Assistant director of (energy and) facilities planning at The Art Institute of Chicago

EDUCATION: Although not essential, a degree in interior design is recommended. Interior design majors are offered by many art colleges and other schools with strong arts programs. Padilla completed a three-year associate-degree program at the Harrington Institute of Interior Design in Chicago.

SALARY: The median annual salary in 1999 was $33,340, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

ON THE JOB: Padilla plans interior spaces for all Art Institute properties and facilities, including offices, galleries, and operational spaces. She selects and places furnishings such as desks and chairs, rugs and carpets, wall and ceiling installations (chandeliers, skylights, and shelves), and decorative artwork and sculptures. Using the drafting software program AutoCAD, she creates blueprints. Padilla also ensures that interior spaces comply with legal regulations and organizational specifications regarding usage, efficiency, ventilation, and energy. Padilla must ensure interior spaces are functional according to their intended purpose, whether that be business conferences, art exhibits, instructional lectures, or building operations and maintenance.

STARTING OUT: During her 20’s, Padilla lived in Europe for two years and was inspired by the magnificent architecture she saw there. When she returned to this country, a friend told her about the Harrington Institute, and she went for a tour. “My mind was blown by the projects produced by the students,’ says Padilla. “I knew this was for me.”

REWARDS: “I love the experience and respect I have gained from working with such a prestigious art organization. They have enabled me to start my own independent design business where I focus on residency interiors and have more creative freedom.”

CHALLENGES: “Interior design requires structural and technical knowledge and skill, not just artistic inclination. You need the specialized skill of being able to read and create blueprints and design plans that will be read and used by a wide variety of construction workers, engineers, maintenance people, and government inspectors.”

MORE INFO: American Society of Interior Designers,

David Schaffer



AGE: 28

LOCATION: New York City

JOB: Writes jingles to accompany commercials along with music for other forms of media.

EDUCATION: Attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for three years as a percussion major; graduated from Berklee School of Music as a vibraphone performance major.

SALARY: The median annual salary for musicians and those in related fields is approximately $30,000.

ON THE JOB: “Part of being a composer is being able to cover a lot of different bases. Recently, I’ve been doing more work in television and film, writing music to accompany some sort of video. In the case of writing jingles, the advertising company will come to an individual composer and ask for a demo.

“My wife (Danita NgPoss, pictured above), who is also a musician, and I write samples for them of how we would score the music for a commercial. We put together the music, and they come back to us with rewrites. Later, a rough cut is given to the advertising company and they show it to the client in order to get a final approval. The final version of the piece is then written and recorded.

“Our last project was a television ad campaign for Crest toothpaste.” (You can view the commercial online at

REWARDS: “I love it because, while everyone gets up and goes to work, I get to go play. The Crest commercial was the most exciting thing we’ve done. Not because it was a huge-scale project, but because we had a chance to pool a large number of very talented musicians into one room. We walked out and knew that something special had been done.”

CHALLENGES: “You need a good understanding of melody and what makes a tune memorable. Also, you need some understanding of how music interacts with an image. You have to understand that your music is accompanying the image. It can’t overpower it. This is hard for some musicians.”

MORE INFO: Berklee College of Music,

Yojairy Sanchez



AGE: 38


JOB: Chief mastering engineer, Classic Sound/Scott Hull Mastering

EDUCATION: Two- and four-year schools provide essential training in sound engineering and electronics. Hull graduated from the State University of New York–Fredonia with a BA in trombone performance and a BS in sound recording technology.

SALARY: Entry-level assistants earn about $10 per hour; salaries for experienced professionals are often percentages of record sales.

ON THE JOB: Hull is responsible for mastering the final mixes of his clients’ recordings, which can vary from jazz and soundtracks to world music and rock. The mastering process is the last step before the recording is sent to the manufacturer. Using state of the art equipment, Hull ensures that the finished product sounds as good as possible by adjusting balance, loudness, and tone. Because record companies need to release albums on schedule, Hull works a lot of overtime to meet deadlines. His extensive list of clients includes the Grammy award-winners Steely Dan, Garbage, Yo La Tengo, and Astrud Gilberto.

“One of the benefits of the job is that I work with a different person almost every single day,” he says. “I have a different type of music, a different client, a whole different set of relationships and issues every day.”

STARTING OUT: “I started out as an intern at Masterdisk during the summer before senior year of college. In the right studio, and with the right commitment, there’s a huge growth potential. Within two years, my assistant has become busy enough with his own clients that we’ve had to hire another entry-level person.”

REWARDS: “I’ve got an interesting role with these projects because I’m being paid to give my opinion. The way you interact with people is vital. If you can be fun to work with, people want to come back and work with you the next time.”

CHALLENGES: “My clients are very emotional. They’ve been working through months, and sometimes years, of toil, and they don’t know if I can fix the problems that they hear. There are times when the honest truth needs to be discussed [about recordings that can’t be fixed], and there’s no one else but me that’s able to do that.”

MORE INFO: The Recording Industry Association of America,

Emery Dobyns



AGE: 34

LOCATION: Huntsville, AL

JOB: News director at WEUP AM/FM radio

EDUCATION: Defense Information School, a military broadcasting school at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana (the school is now at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland); English major at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Jordan was in the Navy, which helped pay for Purdue. In the field of broadcasting, formal training from a college or technical school is a must.

SALARY: Salaries range from $12,000 to $43,000, depending on experience and market size. “Some broadcasters make $175,000, but they work in Chicago or New York,” he says.

ON THE JOB: “I gather compile, and edit the news to produce newscasts. I collect sound bites (short taped audio clips), attend press conferences, and go out and research and investigate stories. I co-host a morning show from 5 to 9 on our FM station and I’m a news anchor for our AM station. You have to be curious about what’s going on in the world around you. If someone says, ‘God, you’re nosy,’ it’s probably a good sign that you’re ready for a career in journalism. Curiosity is the No. 1 requirement. This works in tandem with ability to speak and write well.”

STARTING OUT: “I was working with a band when I was 17 and the band leader asked if I had thought about doing radio because I was quick on my feet, liked people, and had a good personality.” At that time, Jordan was living in Naples, Italy, and landed a job at a radio station due to his ability to pronounce the English language titles of American albums.

REWARDS: “I love bringing information to people. I like to chase a story. One day I’m talking to rocket scientists, the next day I’m talking to hip-hop artists.”

CHALLENGES: Jordan says job instability due to changing formats can be a headache. “I’ve been fired half a dozen times from stations because of a personality change, a format change, or budget cuts.” Jordan has had to move to new cities several times for work.

MORE INFO: National Association of Broadcasters,

Heather Lindsey



AGE: 32

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA

JOB: Creative director and supervising producer of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants series

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts, New York. While a degree isn’t necessary, it’s helpful according to Drymon. “It’s four years where you have nothing else to do but concentrate on your art.”

SALARY: Minimum scale for a unionized, journeyman animator is $1,289.28 per week, according to Local 839, a cartoonists union.

ON THE JOB: “I sit down with the writers to come up with story ideas and give notes on the completed scripts. Scripts then go to storyboard–where all scenes are drawn in television format. I also approve character, background, and prop designs. Before the episode can be sent overseas for the actual animation, the voices have to be recorded. I meet with the casting director to approve voice actors. My work isn’t completed on an episode until it comes back from animation (up to a six-month process) and film, sound effects, and music editing is finished.”

STARTING OUT: “I started out to be a comic book artist and didn’t know much about animation until I interned at Disney in Orlando,” he says. After working and drawing with some of the best in the business, Drymon found a job at Nickelodeon as a clean-up artist (cleaning up the rough drawings of other artists). Like Drymon, most animation artists don’t start with a background in animation. What’s most important is talent and the ability to won within the style of a series.

REWARDS: “I can do what I like and not have to curb my sense of humor. I find series about a sea sponge to be funny. Others may not.”

CHALLENGES: “The hardest part of the show is trying to keep 50 to 100 people on track. But when it works, it’s really great.”

MORE INFO: Association Internationale Du Film D’animation,

K.D. Kuch



AGE: 22

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA

JOB: Senior assistant buyer of intimates, accessories, footwear, and kids’ wear at Anthropologie, a division of Urban Outfitters

EDUCATION: Major in design and merchandising with a minor in business administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia

SALARY: Average salary for assistant buyer runs from $28,000 to $35,000

ON THE JOB: Fisher can spend up to 12 hours each day coordinating buys, communicating with vendors, and keeping tabs on Anthropologie’s 30 stores. She is closely involved with the ordering process–making sure orders are processed and reordering items that might be selling well.

STARTING OUT: “Interning is very important. I started this career as an unpaid intern. Everyone told me I was crazy, but I knew that I could learn the most in that position. It really prepared me for many tasks I now deal with. And it was that internship that got me to Anthropologie.”

REWARDS: Frequent trips to New York City and paid vacation time are great perks.

CHALLENGES: Fisher sometimes must advise her superiors. “[With a new buyer] I find myself explaining a lot and showing them how to do their job, even though they’re higher up. I’ve bee able to teach new buyers a lot.”

MORE INFO: Drexel University,

Emery Dobyns


Here are the median annual earnings of various arts and communications

occupation as reported by the BLS.

High school diploma (and/or

technical training)

Hairstylist $15,150

Window dresser $18,180

Floral designer $29,200

Associate’s Degree

Camera operator $21,530

Fashion designer $29,200

Bachelor’s Degree

Photographer $20,940

Reporter $23,400

News analyst $26,470

Industrial designer $29,200

Costume designer $29,200

Graphic designer $31,690

Medical illustrator $31,690

Interior designer $33,340

PR specialist $34,550

5-year or Master’s Degree

Architect $49,223

Art Professor $56,300

Museum curator $59,200

COPYRIGHT 2002 EM Guild, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group