What can I do with a degree in Fine Arts?

Fine Arts studio

Fine Arts focuses on the study and conception of creative art. It forms a broad base of practical and conceptual skills in visual arts, multimedia and design. This allows for opportunities to work in a range of art and media roles and industries. Fine Arts students at UC work in purpose-built studios, workrooms and computer labs, and have access to the School of Fine Arts Campus Gallery.

Fine Arts programmes revolve around basic teaching disciplines which are divided up into six specialisations: Film, Graphic Design, Painting, Photography, Printmaking and Sculpture.

Fine Arts graduates develop a range of practical and creative skills, gain valuable experience of holding exhibitions, and build up a portfolio of work. Graduate skills include:

  • Capacity to think and work creatively and quantitatively
  • Observation and critical analysis
  • Cooperation, teamwork and leadership
  • Advanced communication, with an ability to convey messages in a range of ways
  • Adaptable and flexible approach
  • Technical skills and knowledge relevant to the specialisation chosen
  • Excellent time management and organisation.

Applied learning

Opportunities to apply your learning outside the classroom are available in this degree, including:

  • Volunteering at local art galleries / arts organisations
  • Undertaking an internship
  • Exhibiting your work publicly
  • Contributing to an industry project.

These experiences can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge, and employability.

Graduates who have taken courses in Photography, Film and Graphic Design have clear career prospects in these areas, whether it’s working for:

  • Your own business
  • A specialised agency
  • A larger organisation as an in-house professional.

Painting and Sculpture graduates have access to a wide range of vocations and networks within the art world in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas.

A number are self-employed, running their own business, studio or freelance consultancy.

Digital influences

The rise of the internet, digital marketing, social media, globalisation and e-commerce has created even more demand for the:

  • Visual skills of photographers, video production and editors, and online marketing/web design
  • The accessibility and mass production of art, allowing people to search for, and purchase art from afar.

Potential employer destinations

Career destinations for Fine Arts graduates include:

  • Art galleries
  • Photography studios or image providers
  • Film industry
  • Design studios or agencies
  • Multimedia content producers
  • Arts management
  • Marketing and communications
  • Fine arts auctioneers
  • Publishing
  • Education

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Artist

  • Researches and implements creative ideas
  • Produces art work for exhibitions and commissions in specialist medium
  • Liaises with clients and art galleries

Graphic designer

  • Meets with clients to identify requirements
  • Creates new graphic ideas/solutions
  • Uses creative-based software to design print and online materials

Photographer

  • Takes photos to meet a client’s brief
  • Edits and supplies finished photos
  • Develops and promotes their portfolio

Illustrator

  • Interprets a client’s requirements
  • Produces new illustrative ideas and storyboards
  • Uses creative-based software to create illustrations and graphics for multiple mediums

Film director

  • Markets the storyline or script to producers
  • Directs scene set-up and people in a tv series, feature, documentary, video, news story etc
  • Sets technical aspects eg, length/angle of shot

Librarian

  • Categorises and catalogues library materials
  • Selects materials for library use
  • Helps customers find and use materials

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Art gallery manager / director / assistant

  • Assesses and selects art
  • Plans and presents exhibitions, events, seminars, outreach activity
  • Works with artists and negotiates purchases

Digital content analyst

  • Develops a brand’s multi-channel communications strategy and online presence
  • Increases web traffic and digital engagement
  • Oversees digital marketing and online search

Product designer

  • Researches a client’s brief, an organisational or social need, or a gap in the market
  • Prepares drawings, models and proposals for new products or product improvements
  • Designs and produces a prototype

Sales consultant

  • Identifies and develops new markets or business
  • Manages client relationships and presentations
  • Implements sales and marketing strategies

Arts administrator / manager

  • Manages logistics, budgets, schedules for events, venues, managers
  • Contributes to marketing materials and media
  • Develops new projects and initiatives

Curator

  • Chooses display items at museums or galleries
  • Manages collections and exhibitions
  • Conducts research and communicates details

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Offers services as a freelancer/consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in a community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Fine Arts subject page