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Where to start  

'Commercial art' is art created for commercial purposes, mainly advertising and retail. You could go into clothes, jewellery, furniture design, textiles or work in the art department of a media company. Also included in this area is work in and for commercial galleries and auction houses.




How to know if you’re suited to this sector

As well as a love of the arts, you’ll need to have a commercial awareness of the value of art, whether in sales or investment. 

How to get the experience to be credible

Here is a list of local sales galleries which you could approach for temporary or part-time work. Consider working in their shop, or on projects to make money from the sale of exhibit related materials. If you take a job like this, ensure that you use the experience to talk to and network with people doing the jobs you aspire to.

Further study or certification required

A relevant degree is increasingly important. Without this you will have to prove that you have gained expertise and experience in the field, and that you have the right skill set. For some jobs, entry is possible with alternative post-graduate qualifications. Entry without an appropriate qualification is possible for some jobs, but career progression will be slow and uncertain.

Find relevant courses by searching the Prospects website, and researching local adult education classes via your local authority website. Local arts centres and artist studio complexes may also offer relevant courses.

How to find employers or training courses

Career paths in this sector tend to be very individual in nature. Use Handshake and LinkedIn to find networking contacts.

There are virtually no large employers in this sector. The Arts Council (England) is a source of funding for this field so see their website for lists of organisations. There is also the Scottish Arts Council and Arts Wales.

Other employers will almost certainly be SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises). These are best researched individually online. Many people working in this field are self-employed, often working from home.

Larger auction houses employ graduates with relevant knowledge or experience: Sotheby's; Christie's; Spink; Phillips; Bonhams.

Tips for succeeding in the application or selection process

Demonstrate, through work experience, your understanding of the commercial and business end of the arts. Skills in researching and valuing art and building high-value client/investor relationships will help you stand out.

What Cambridge offers to help with this career

The Arts and Heritage Careers Panel takes place in Michaelmas term.

The Work to change the World event takes place in Lent term.

There are many student societies related to fashion, arts and heritage.

Other things you should know

Explore the following links for websites that match your area of interest, or geographical location:

What to do next

Now you have looked at this page, think about your next steps. Everyone's journey is different. There are many ways to move forward. Here are some actions you could take now: