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Commercial Artist


Commercial artists use their artistic talents and skills to design, promote, display, package, and advertise companies, non-profit organizations, products, festivals, books and government agencies. They develop design plans for CD-ROMs, websites, logos, stationery, print ads, signage, film and video, diagrams, posters, flyers and brochures. They put pictures on t-shirts, they oversee the layout of annual reports, magazines and newspapers, they design movie sets, they even work designing furniture. They create lettering, illustrations and medical and computer graphics. Commercial artists are hard at work with practically every company out there, working in a variety of ways to bring information to the public in interesting, exciting ways.

Traditionally, when a commerical artist set out to design a logo or organize a magazine ad, pencils, paper and a lot of imagination were all the tools necessary. However, in today's computer generated world, commercial artists are now working with computer design software to complete the work.

Commercial artists work for magazines or newspapers, retail companies, advertising agencies, graphic design firms or as freelance designers. They work closely with their clients, who assign them a project. The artist works alone or in a team developing a design concept, which must be approved by the client before the designing can begin.

Small projects can take only days to complete, while larger projects can take months. In a large company, artists may only focus on one area of a project, like layout, or design concept, but freelancers or artists with smaller companies must be versatile enough to do it all.

Commercial art is an open-ended sort of career. There are many possibilities, and the future is always changing. Computers are making the field more exciting, so graphic artists must ensure they stay one step ahead, and familiarize themselves with new technological developments, while still remaining focused on the principles of art.
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Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Full Sail University - Online
Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.
Programs Offered:
  • Media Design, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
  • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
What skills does it require to work as a commercial artist? Commercial artists need to be independent, self-motivated workers, who are able to think creatively about a wide variety of subject matter. They should be talented artists, who understand the fundamentals of art, as well as artistic applications to computer technology. They should be attentive and able to pay close attention to details. Commercial artists should have good organizational skills, and be able to work with others under the pressure of constant deadlines. Finally they must be good communicators, who are able to give and take constructive criticism.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Attend meetings with clients or supervisors to understand project's goals and objectives, target market, budget and schedule
  • Analyze project and develop initial concept ideas and sketches
  • Use a variety of materials to design product, including pens and computer programs.
  • The typical day for a commercial artist will involve a lot of brainstorming, coming up with ideas, and meeting clients and design teams to discuss plans. Commercial artists also fine-tune designs, either on paper, with models or on computer. They work indoors, with little opportunity to travel, unless to visit clients. They work with a number of people, from shoe store owners to other artists to big business executives.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Commercial artists work for magazines, advertising agencies, retailers, publishing companies, or are on staff with graphic design firms. Some are self-employed. They work in offices and studios, sometimes at home. They work with glue, paint, ink and computers. Their hours are usually regular, unless they are working longer hours to meet a deadline.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Commercial artists can advance to supervisory roles, or open their own design firms. They can become animators, comic book artists, children's book illustrators, and visual artists, as well as train to use computer animation programs and get involved in computer animation, video game animation, and CD-ROM animation. They can also become textile artists, clothing designers, and layout designers.

  Educational Paths  
Commercial artists need either a degree or diploma in graphic art, visual art or commercial art, as well as some hands-on experience. Ask to volunteer in a graphic arts capacity with a school paper, local publications and non-profit organizations like a museums or a charities.

Commercial artists will need to create a portfolio before they get into any program, so get creative! The school isn't looking for design work, necessarily, just proof that you are innovative and talented.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Full Sail University - Online
Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.
Programs Offered:
  • Media Design, Master of Fine Arts (Online)
  • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)

Toronto Film School

Learn how to turn your creativity into entertainment at Toronto Film School.

Programs Offered:
  • Acting for Film Television and the Theatre Diploma
  • Graphic Design

Mt Sierra College - Monrovia

Mt Sierra College was founded in 1990. For more than 25 years, the College has been known for its focus on effective use of technology, which has always been at the core of its educational mission. 

Programs Offered:
  • Visual Design

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs Offered:
  • Master of Arts in Visual Communication Design
  • Master of Science in Marketing - Digital Marketing and Advertising

American InterContinental University

Serious about success? With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, at AIU, the Serious U™,  you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

American InterContinental University® is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. To contact the Higher Learning Commission please visit www.hlcommission.org.

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts Media Production

Remington College

Get hands-on training with Remington College.

Prefer to speak with a Customer Service Rep? Call 855-264-3155 toll-free now!

Programs Offered:
  • AAA in Digital Graphic Arts

Reeves College
Launch your career in the areas of Healthcare, Business, and Hospitality at Reeves College.
Programs Offered:
  • Graphic Design Technology
  • Graphic Design

Other colleges make promises. CollegeAmerica delivers.
Programs Offered:
  • Graphic Arts - Information Design (BS)
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (BS)


 The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started


Congratulations! Your interest in Stevens-Henager College is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

Programs Offered:
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (BS)
  • Graphic Arts - Information Design (BS)

California College San Diego

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

Programs Offered:
  • Graphic Arts (AAS)
  • Graphic Arts (BS)
  • Graphic Arts - Information Design (BS)

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