Career Profile: Commercial Artists

Career Profile: Commercial Artists

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Artists are known for their creativity, such as paintings or sculptures in galleries and on people’s walls. However, commercial artists are different. They work in a variety of industries, using their artistic abilities to help communicate ideas and help people work on important projects. Artistic people who want to make use of their skills in practical ways should consider becoming commercial artists.

Commercial artists can work in many different industries, such as film, publishing, advertising, marketing, and even manufacturing. They might work for large corporations or small studios. Normally, a bachelor’s degree in art from a university is required, but some people might choose to study at a design institute. Apprenticeships can also be useful in many cases. Besides artistic ability, people in this field should have communication skills and be able to work with people, besides being creative and detail-oriented.

Much of the work of commercial artists is based on specific requests. A client might ask a commercial artist to design a poster for a theatre performance or an advertisement for a product. Commercial artists need to be able to follow the guidelines of what the client wants but also be creative and find interesting ways of communicating the concept to the audience. People in this field can also work as desktop publishers and drafters.

Jobs as commercial artists are more common in cities than in small towns, but people can often work remotely for people in different provinces or countries. People in this field should be organized to be able to meet deadlines but also be creative. They can work in offices with other people or alone in home offices. Although the work is not physically difficult, it can be tiring and sometimes very busy.

Salaries for commercial artists can vary according to where they work and the number of projects they are able to complete. In general, salaries start at $36,000 per year and can rise to $53,000 per year. As long as their eyesight is good enough and they are able to use their hands, people can continue in this career long into their senior years. If arthritis or other problems affect their ability to draw, many commercial artists can still use computer programs for many of their designs.

Sometimes, projects might come with specific requirements to fulfill. For example, a company might want a specific size of poster or ask for something that follows certain guidelines. At other times, clients might have a few vague ideas of what they want but have nothing specific to suggest. In that case, the commercial artist might have to decide on the best background material to use, whether that is paper, cardboard, plastic, or another substance. Deciding on colours and other aspects might also be part of the commercial artist’s job unless the client has specific requests.

Being able to find the best options for clients is important, and this can sometimes take skills in negotiation. For example, a client might want a colour combination that will not display well in a certain context, such as two dark colours together or light writing on a white background. Commercial artists should know what works and what will look bad. Consulting other artists or typography and illustration guides can help commercial artists determine which combinations will work.

Being a commercial artist is a much more stable job than other types of artwork, but the availability of jobs depends on the economy and people’s willingness to pay for something to look good. However, for anyone who is artistic but wants a steady job, a career as a commercial artist can be a good choice.



Best Accredited Colleges. “Commercial Artist: Job Description & Career Information.” https://bestaccreditedcolleges.org/articles/commercial-art-professions-job-description-and-information-about-starting-a-career-as-a-commercial-artist-or-commercial-designer.html.

Canada Council for the Arts. “Fields of Practice.” https://canadacouncil.ca/funding/grants/guide/apply-to-programs/fields-of-practice.

Job Bank. “Commercial Artist in Canada.” https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/summary-occupation/5687/ca.

Payscale Canada. “Commercial Artist Salary in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Commercial_Artist/Salary.

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