Skip to main content

Canadian artist Pamela Masik creates art as part of a performance.

Pamela Masik

Job: Artist

Salary: As artists are quick to tell you, it's not about the money. Still, they have to eat. Pay can range from a few dollars for a photo, painting or sculpture, to millions for the bodies of work by artists who find success. "Art is, above all, subjective, as are the salaries," Canadian artist Pamela Masik says.

Education: No formal education is required. Some artists are self-taught, but increasingly they attend specialized postsecondary schools such as the Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver or the Ontario College of Art & Design University in Toronto.

Story continues below advertisement

The role: Being an artist is all about the act of creating, says Barry Patterson, executive director of communications at Emily Carr University. It's also about being an entrepreneur. "You have to continuously find opportunity to fund creating your work; this includes renting a studio space, purchasing materials," he says. Some artists have day jobs related to their training as artists, or they maintain a creative practice on the side.

By the numbers: More than 87,000 people in Canada classified themselves as artists in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. That includes producers and directors, as well as musicians, painters, dancers and singers. About 15,000 were in the category of painters, sculptors and other visual artists. About three-quarters of them were self-employed.

Job prospects: It's not likely something your parents would recommend as a career. Still, the job prospects may not be as bad as people think. "The fields of art and design have expanded greatly," in recent years, according to the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design. Ms. Masik says artists who have studied at university can work as professors or consultants. "There are other avenues suited to the artist's own interpretation of what it means to be successful," she says.

Challenges: Defining your own success as an artist. "The challenge exists in finding a balance between honing your craft and becoming the best artist that you can be, while encountering those moments of vulnerability that exist only between you and your work," Ms. Masik says.

Why they do it: "People don't choose the career, the career chooses you," Ms. Masik says.

Misconceptions: "The beginning of an artist's career is not glamorous, though does have a level of romanticism," Ms. Masik says. Also, artists do more than create art. "Ultimately, the artist must realize and confront the importance of not only actualizing an idea but also introducing it to the market in hopes that it is understood, and ideally, appreciated," she says.

Give us the scoop: Are you an artist in Canada? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Story continues below advertisement

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter