Art And Design

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Should I Study Study Art and Design?

Thinking of going to school for an art and design degree, but not quite sure where to begin? At College Choice, we’re here to help you find your way through the mounds of information about getting the right degree or finding the right college. No matter the discipline, major, certification, or degree, College Choice’s helpful guides and ranking will give you an edge on finding the right school. Whether you’re looking for an online degree from a top online art and design school or a more traditional degree from the best art and design school, College Choice’s resources will help you find, get into, pay for, and thrive in college.

Today, we’ll walk you through the ins-and-outs of getting an art and design degree, what you can expect from a career in art and design, and potential art and design areas of specialization. After you’ve gotten a firm grasp on what an art and design career looks like, take a look at some of our fantastic College Choice resources, like our Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design rankings list, our Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design rankings list, and our Best Online Master in of Fine Arts in Creative Writing rankings list to get some ideas on your education options.

What is Art and Design?

Before you head to get a Bachelor of Art and Design, you should be familiar with the field. As you might imagine, the difference between Art and Design is a hotly debated topic. We try to make things simple here at College Choice so that you can get on with searching for the best art and design degree that’s right for you. Simply put, Art and Design have different but over-lapping purposes.

Art tends to be born from an emotional context and inspires a variety of questions. Whether hung on a wall or viewed in a theater, Art is individualized expression, which is often purchased by a patron, but typically has very little functional purpose.

Design is intentionally made to be readily comprehended or understood and intends to communicate a specific message, provide information, or precisely function. Design is often highly collaborative, paying great attention to users and the purpose of the object itself.

Hopefully the above descriptions will help you understand these two distinct but related areas and give you an idea about which area of art and design you’d like to make into a personally gratifying and professionally fulfilling career.

What is the Best Art and Design Degree to Get?

If you’re going to go to college to obtain an art and design degree, then you should consider a B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Art), which is the standard undergraduate degree for students seeking professional education in the visual or performing arts as well as design-specific vocations. With a variety of focus areas, the B.F.A. offers students a wide range of training in arts-related fields, like dance, design, technology, visual art, or theater tech.

The Bachelor of Fine Art provides the budding artist with job-specific training and a background in academic examinations of the artistic profession—like art history, design theory, and visual culture—while providing artists opportunities, space, and time to work on one’s own projects to develop a portfolio that will become an important part of finding and art and design job. Whether you’re searching for the best online art and design degree or the top art and design school, know that your degree will be a mixture of art practice and art education.

After completing the B.F.A., many degree-holding artist enter the workforce as professionals that aid companies in creating art-related content, work in the non-profit sector in the areas of literacy and education, or work to obtain consistent jobs in the arts, such as working for theater companies, art galleries, and other art-friendly professional institutions. Often, people with a B.F.A. will work a few different arts-related jobs like the ones listed above while producing their own creative work. Other individuals with B.F.A.s opt to freelance, which provides them with flexibility to pursue their own projects on the side.

Sometimes, artists might decide to teach. Often, they will go back to school to complete a degree that will allow them to teach at the high school middle-grade, or elementary levels, or work to obtain a higher degree in the arts field, like a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) which would give them the graduate hours necessary to teach at a college or university. Though, in the past ten years, the job market for artists working at the college-level with an M.F.A. has been either volatile or dry.

If you’re interested in teaching art to young people, consider taking a look at our College Choice rankings lists for The Best Master’s in Teaching, The Best Online Education Degrees, and the Cheapest Online Master’s Degrees in Education. Or, if you’re bent on getting an M.F.A., take a look at our Best Online Master in of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, which would give you the graduate degree hours needed to apply for some adjunct collegiate positions.

What Art and Design Area is Best For Me?

Focused on the practice of making print, electronic, or visual information that is both easy to understand (accessible) or easy to use (functional), art and design encompasses a wide-ranging assortment of artistic and professional practices that involve making the ideas of imagination realities in the world. From writing stories or making art to designing buildings, people working in art or design create physical objects that are both visually pleasing and user-friendly—both of which are necessary parts of commerce all over the world. Whether a company hires an artist or designer to create an ad, make a website, or design an object or program to increase department productivity, artists and designers are integral to making our lives more usable and more beautiful.

Below are some professions and average salaries that will give you an idea of the art and design landscape.


Average Salary: $76,100

With three basic career steps—completing architecture degrees (Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Architecture), practicing the vocation under a knowledgeable profession via a paid internship, and passing the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Exam—becoming a licensed architect is no easy task, but is reportedly an extremely fulfilling career. Obtaining a degree in architecture is the beginning of a career where you plan and design houses, office buildings, factories, and other structures where people live and work. Architects work with clients to develop plans, consult with engineers to build sturdy, reliable structures, and create drawings that are used in constructing buildings, often checking on the progress and development of the structures they’ve designed.

Communication Design

Average Salary: $92,812

Generally speaking, people looking to move into this profession begin by earning a Bachelor of Design or Media Communication. Interdisciplinary in scope, communication design is focused on the relationship between design and information development/curation, which is concerned with how different kinds of media (printed, digital, crafted, and presentations) communicate with their intended audiences. Communication designers pay attention to both the message and the best way to deliver it. People in this field often have degrees in related fields like journalism, broadcast, marketing, or communication and collaborate with illustrators, graphic/web designers, advertisers, videographers, or printmakers to create clear, succinct material for marketing, communication, and corporate development.

Drafting Design

Average Salary: $64, 501

After receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering, and majoring in Drafting and Design, employees in this field can work in a variety of situations. Related to fields of mechanical design, architectural design, and interior design, a drafting designer uses software—often CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) programs, which has generally replaced manual drafting—to convert designs into technical drawings and plans to be used in creating products, buildings, and other physical objects that occupy the spaces where people exist every day. From the microchips that run your computer, to the racks that hold your dishes while they’re cleaned in a dishwasher, to complex shelving units in department stores, to the public buildings and spaces where we work, drafting designers make the existence of such things possible through intricate schematics that direct other professionals (such as architects, electricians, or manufacturers) in making safe, strong, and beautiful objects that optimize functionality. Often, drafting designers specialize in electrical, civil, or mechanical fields which give them a professional focus on which to build a career.

Fashion Design

Average Salary: $63,670

With an aim to turn heads and create unique style, this art and design field focuses on clothing—footwear, accessories, and wearable products—that are both aesthetically pleasing, unique, and functional. Many fashion designers work for apparel companies, theaters, dance companies, retailers, and design firms. A notoriously competitive industry, fashion design offers people hands-on work coupled with creative freedom. Many people enter the world of fashion by getting a Fashion Associate of Arts (A.A.) or a Bachelor of Fine Art in Fashion Design.

Graphic Design

Average Salary: $46,900

With a Bachelor of Media Arts, Design, or Visual Art, and a robust portfolio, you can work for yourself or through an advertising/public relations firm to create a fulfilling career. Quite possibly the most popular and well-known art and design field, this expansive area covers a variety of tasks related to visual, material, and communication arts. Whether you’re working with visual concepts on a computer screen or drafting by hand, graphic designers are constantly refining their work to communicate clearly, enthrall shoppers, and inform the public through all different media, including print and digital advertising. If this is the career path in art and design that’s right for you, take a look at our Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design rankings as well as our Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Graphic Design.

Industrial Design

Average Salary: $67,130

If you’re interested in designing products that have a manufacturing component, such as cars, toys, appliances, furniture, and home goods, then a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design is the best way to begin a career in this field. While a bachelor’s degree in art or design related fields is a requirement, some people rely on diverse and creative portfolios to land jobs creating aesthetically pleasing and functional everyday use objects that occupy work spaces and private homes. One thing is for sure when entering this profession: experience matters. Be sure you have a strong portfolio of ideas and design concepts to showcase your vision, imagination, attention to detail, and versatility.

Interior Design

Average Salary: $48,840

Getting a Bachelor of Arts degree with an Interior Design focus will grant you access to a profession where you make spaces to meet the expectations of clients. If you’ve ever walked into a room and been amazed at the beauty and functionality of the space, then chances are you’ve experienced the work of this art and design professional, where interior of homes and buildings are made to be safe, useful, and beautiful. Interior designers monitor trends of fashion and industry and work to create pleasing places for people to live and work, paying attention to color, light, acoustics, textiles/materials, and universal accessibility. Some areas of growth include handicapped ease of access and environmentally friendly design.

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Average Salary: $63,970

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Graphics, Art, or Digital Design, multimedia artists create for the purposes of entertainment—like digital cartoons, video shorts, and movies—or communicating important messages—like advertisements and PSAs. If you’re interested in creating animation or visual effects content for television, film, or videogames, then consider this growing facet of the art and design field, where over half of the workers are self-employed. This area of art and design is experiencing serious growth due to a variety of factors in the entertainment industry and requires technical prowess and a willingness to adapt to emerging technologies. If you’re interested in this field, go ahead and check out our Cheapest Online Bachelor’s in Game Design rankings list.

Website Design and Development

Average Salary: $46,327

Creating a sleek, navigable, and enticing website is no easy task. Most companies hire a freelancing professional or design firm to create a website that’s brand-integrated and addresses the specifics of the goods and services sold by that company. This is where a web designer, with a specialized Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design, helps a company’s vision of digital presence become a reality. Web designers develop the aesthetics of a website with special attention paid to performance and technical specifications for the site itself. Web designers may also create site content, such as blog material, and direct marketing efforts that integrate social media into a company’s digital presence. Check out our Cheapest Online Bachelor’s in Web Design rankings list right now.

At College Choice, we’re devoted to helping you learn about your options, so that you can make the best decision about your college life; we’re here to help you find, get into, pay for, and thrive in college!

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