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What does a Fine Artist do?

O. Parker
O. Parker

A fine artist is someone who creates fine art pieces. Fine art usually includes one-of-a-kind pieces or limited editions. Types of mediums include painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. There is no degree required to become a fine artist, though many artists do choose to seek higher education for a variety of reasons. These artists often sell their works through galleries, private commissions and through websites.

Works of art that seek to explore areas such as social issues, emotions, studies in color and space relationships are commonly created by fine artists, and such work often is a process of discovery that the artist develops as he or she works. A fine arts painter uses paints and canvas to create artistic works, whereas a sculptor uses stone, metal, concrete, and other materials to create three-dimensional pieces. These types of artists usually specialize in one area, such as painting or sculpture, for example, but it is common to see an artist working in a variety of different mediums and styles. Examples of artistic occupations that are not included under the definition of fine art include acting, commercial art, and commercial writing.

A fine artist might paint with watercolors or oils.
A fine artist might paint with watercolors or oils.

No degree or certificate is required for a fine artist to create and sell art. Artists typically are valued foremost for their skill and creativity and the works they produce. Many fine artists however do pursue higher education in their fields to gain skills and exposure. Public and private universities generally offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in fine arts. A degree in fine arts benefits an artist if he or she wants to teach fine art or work in a museum, and it may provide more credibility in his or her chosen field.

A fine artist may use a variety of paints to create a piece.
A fine artist may use a variety of paints to create a piece.

Work created by a fine artist often is sold in a gallery, through a web site, or through word of mouth. Another way a fine artist can sell work is through commissioned pieces. Often, a private person or company will commission a work of art for a home or office building, for example. Many cities also have a small percentage of their budgets set aside for commissioning artwork. Publicly commissioned artwork benefits the city by adding beauty and interest to buildings and outdoor areas, and it supports local artists who live and work in the area.

A fine artist may specialize in sculpturing.
A fine artist may specialize in sculpturing.

Fine art work, such as paintings and sculptures, are usually one-of-a-kind pieces. Some types of sculpture, as well as prints and fine art photography, can be sold in additions. An addition is the number of prints or copies of a work sold. For example, an artist creating a limited edition set of prints might only print 50 before destroying the plates. The buyer can look at the number on the bottom of the print: A fine art print marked 5/50 is the fifth print in a series of 50. In contrast, commercial art is reproduced abundantly for ad campaigns and product promotions.

Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - I'm not a huge fan of abstract art, even if I do know a little bit about color theory. I prefer contemporary art that has a bit more structure and story to it.

I really love trying to find new artists that are just taking off. The best place to look is in tiny art galleries in a big city and I'd imagine that's probably the best place to try to place your work if you're just starting out as an artist as well.


@croydon - I never realized there was so much to color theory until I took a couple of courses in fine art. It's incredible how many things there are to learn about it. I always thought it was just a matter of matching the color to whatever you are painting but that's just the tip of an iceberg.

Also, it seems like a lot of modern art is actually just an exploration of color theory. Once you learn a few of the basics you realize what the purpose of all those different squares and splotches of color are when previously they just looked like a toddler had a tantrum while finger-painting.


A really good tip for fine artists who work with paints that I came across recently was to use your leftover paints to create little reminders of what certain mixes look like. This is particularly good for oil painting where it takes a long time for the paint to dry and you might not want to have to wait that long to see what the color is going to look like.

You just use the leftover mixed paint on a variety of materials like canvas and different types of paper and then you can keep them in a folder to remind yourself of what the color looks like and does when put next to other colors.

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    • A fine artist might paint with watercolors or oils.
      By: Gerhard Wanzenböck
      A fine artist might paint with watercolors or oils.
    • A fine artist may use a variety of paints to create a piece.
      By: Tryfonov
      A fine artist may use a variety of paints to create a piece.
    • A fine artist may specialize in sculpturing.
      By: JRstock
      A fine artist may specialize in sculpturing.
    • A fine artist may have their own studio.
      By: Photoman
      A fine artist may have their own studio.