How to Enter a Commercial Art Career: Tips and Suggestions

A commercial art career can be a fantastic choice for you if you appreciate looking at or producing artistic works that convey the journey of a product or brand. It can be useful to learn about your potential commercial art career before you apply for vacant positions so you’re ready to present the most applicable expertise you have. If you choose to pursue a job in commercial art, you’ll discover numerous fields and environments you might thrive that might speak to your professional passions and workplace choices.

In this post, we examine commercial art, go over how to work as a commercial artist, and examine several careers in this industry.

What exactly is commercial art?

Commercial art, commonly referred to as commercial art, uses aesthetically pleasing designs, graphics, and images to market, explain, or inform consumers about a good, service, or company. Commercial artists can create a wide range of marketing and advertising items, such as company logos, print ads for publications, and brochures.

They frequently work for advertising companies, newspapers, magazines, graphic design firms, or marketing divisions. Commercial artists frequently work closely with their customers or the leadership group to determine the messages they wish to portray through particular designs. They also determine the organization’s target market and develop a product that specifically appeals to that group of customers.

Here are some further illustrations of commercial art:

  • Internet Marketing
  • Billboards
  • Television advertisements
  • Signboards
  • Newspaper ads
  • Events flyers

Fine art versus commercial art

Commercial art primarily differs from fine art in that it is rarely displayed in settings other than the medium or setting in which it is produced. The purpose of most commercial art is to promote a brand or occasion. On the other hand, the purpose of excellent art is virtually always to be merely admired. Graphic design and illustration are tools used by commercial artists to produce objects like logos, ads, and brochures. Many performers also work in the fine arts, producing sculptures, paintings, photographs, and installations.

What is the work of a commercial artist?

To increase sales, commercial artists create product packaging and marketing. They can work in a variety of industries, including home goods, general manufacturing, retail, and agriculture. Commercial artists choose the color, design, and outward look of things to maximize customer appeal. A commercial artist’s duties may also include:

Marketing strategy

When working in marketing, a commercial artist develops and updates a product’s design elements. They might be in charge of the artwork they utilize for packaging, brochures, and advertisements. They develop and update these aspects as the product changes, and they are also in charge of illustrations like logos. Commercial painters are aware of market research about the customer’s requirements and their intended audience, and they can adjust product designs accordingly.

Commercial artists collaborate with others to develop ideas during project campaigns because they alter elements to suit the requirements of various parties. To produce and display ideas, they might employ computer graphics programs, rough sketches, or hand illustrations. They can collaborate with an art director who can help push artistic direction, suggest design adjustments, and enhance visual quality.

Communications and publishing design

Commercial artists assist with the digital publication layout for materials that advertise a product. They contribute to the design of commercials, print ads, and other marketing collateral like billboards or retail postings. They are aware of how to employ several graphical instruments and methods to meet the requirements of the magazine, as well as color for creating advertising content.

They are aware of how the printing process works, how design influences it, and how to choose the best paper and ink. The commercial artist is aware of how to produce designs for advertisements in the rotation if they work for an advertising firm instead of an internal team for a product. To produce a set of advertisements or billboard designs for a year or a month, they may need to develop several advertising concepts simultaneously.

Continual design revisions

Commercial artists are accustomed to working as a team and know how to communicate with a variety of audiences. To update a design or talk about goals, they might collaborate with the project’s stakeholders, other graphic designers, design team members, and marketing specialists. Commercial designers might be required to present their ideas during meetings, justify their decisions, and describe any updates or modifications made to the design during the project. A commercial artist’s responsibility is to keep all project participants updated on any modifications to the design.

How to Start a commercial art career

These actions can be taken to develop a prosperous commercial art career:

1. Enroll in a college or an accredited private school of design

Many businesses favor applicants with a bachelor’s degree in advertising, art, marketing, graphic design, or a similar discipline; however, it’s not usually necessary. Others could look at applicants who have a GED or high school diploma. Attending a recognized private design school will help make a good impression on employers.

You can learn fundamental artistic subjects with these programs, such as painting, art theory, printmaking, or drawing. Additionally, you can learn about the tools and techniques of graphic design that are relevant to commercial art, such as photography, computer graphics, and color theory, which you can utilize in your commercial art career.

2. Create an artwork portfolio

Employers may ask to see your prior design work when you apply for jobs so they may get a better sense of your artistic and creative talents. You can illustrate this by creating an art portfolio. A selection of your finest prior work from previous art jobs or class projects exhibiting the artwork you’ve created makes up an art portfolio to land a great commercial art career.

Your portfolio can be a fantastic way to showcase your artistic and creative talents, as well as your knowledge of numerous software applications like Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, or Photoshop.

3. Look into internships

After graduation, completing an internship can help you stand out from other applicants who have less experience and make you land a fantastic commercial art career. You can get a better understanding of what it’s like to be employed as a professional commercial artist by working as an intern. Having this prior experience gives you more assurance that you want to pursue a career in commercial art.

An excellent approach to network and meeting people in your field is through an internship. It’s crucial to maintain strong relations with the company you intern for because some employers who recruit interns may take them under consideration for full-time entry-level positions after they graduate.

4. Make use of opportunities for networking

You can build your portfolio of work if you wish to begin a commercial art career via networking. You can increase your job possibilities beyond commercial work by acquiring the ability to network for jobs, commissions, and freelance work. You can also hone your craft and experiment with various types of illustration by honing these skills. Consider using your education as a networking opportunity if you are enrolled in college classes.

Career fairs and other similar events can help you network with others in your field, apply for jobs, and meet corporate representatives. Additionally, college classes give you the chance to network with your professors and classmates who might later hire you for a job.

5. Look for prospective full-time or independent work

You may seek a full-time job as a commercial artist after you’ve acquired the required degree and experience. Some commercial artists favor working in an office setting, whether it is a corporate or agency one. To find out whether they know someone who is hiring, you may also ask your lecturers.

Look for jobs on popular job search websites, and then apply for employment that fits your qualifications, interests, and degree of experience. Some people begin their commercial art careers as freelancers, which frequently means working on an as-needed basis for a wide range of businesses.

This is an excellent choice if you would rather work remotely rather than in an office setting and have greater influence over your schedule. It takes time and effort to develop a loyal customer and a solid reputation as a commercial artist before you can become a freelancer.

6. Accept a variety of work

Taking on a variety of work can also help to boost your commercial art career. Try to take on projects that are beyond your current level of learning while taking on commissions and freelance work. If you work as an illustrator with 2D artwork, for instance, you might want to consider taking on graphic design jobs. You may improve and diversify your artistic abilities while learning new techniques through commission work. You can also expand your portfolio and earn money while doing so. The more variety of work you may include in your portfolio, the better equipped you’ll be to compete for every type of job in commercial art.

7. Continue to create projects

Creating projects as frequently as you can is another strategy to progress in your quest for a commercial art career. Whether you’re in school, at another employment, or operating as a freelance artist full-time, do your best to conceive and complete these projects, whether they’re for hire or on your own.

Taking on new projects, even personal ones, allows you to keep improving your abilities and demonstrate to future employers or commissioners that you’ve got current work to display. Being a busy artist who continually works on a project can demonstrate your productivity and make a strong first impression on potential employers.

8. Stay up-to-date with technology

Commercial art is a constantly evolving field, and it’s important to stay current with the latest software and technology used in the commercial art career, such as Adobe Creative Suite, HTML/CSS, and 3D modeling software.

9. Consider further education

Some commercial art careers require advanced degrees, such as a Master’s in Fine Arts. Consider pursuing further education to deepen your knowledge and skills in your chosen field.

Skills as a commercial artist

The following are some abilities that commercial artists possess that assist them in carrying out their duties and growing their commercial art careers:

Graphic design

Typically, 3D models are used by commercial artists to create graphics for ads, TV commercials, and logos. Commercial artists can pick up graphic design skills by working on a design team, even if they decide not to major in graphic design in college or decide not to attend college at all. They might receive basic graphic design training from the company they work for, or they might pick up the skill by doing freelance work. Commercial artists in commercial art careers may find it helpful to understand graphic design concepts because it teaches them about 3D modeling, object placement, and how to produce animation.


Commercial artists that work for advertising agencies are familiar with fundamental illustration concepts. They might employ illustrations to make detailed designs for projects, rethink a concept, or design an entire advertisement. However, in contemporary commercials, drawing, and illustration talents in commercial art careers may be used as means of communication rather than as complete instruments for a project. Even if a commercial artist primarily uses graphic design software or 3D modeling, illustration abilities are still crucial.


Because they engage and meet with numerous members of the design team, commercial artists must be proficient communicators. Commercial artists adjust base designs as they are necessary and communicate these adjustments to staff members with varying levels of competence. Excellent communication skills are needed in commercial art careers to fully explain design ideas to those who might not be familiar with specific jargon.


Commercial artists are aware of the value of networking with their peers to identify opportunities and build a portfolio. Commercial artists in commercial art careers that serve as independent agents for various advertising agencies are skilled at managing multiple clients and establishing connections to acquire more. Commercial artists can continually expand their portfolios and accept employment that fits their needs and professional objectives if they have the networking abilities necessary.

Management of time

The ability to manage one’s time well is crucial for a commercial artist’s profession, whether they are independent contractors or employees of a single company. As freelancers in commercial art careers, they can manage several projects at once with the use of time management. Along with all required meetings for each change, it may help them establish strategies for components weeks in advance. Commercial artists can benefit from time management by understanding and planning each stage of a project to anticipate due dates and account for any potential hiccups that may occur throughout development.

Business administration

After working as a freelancer for a while, certain commercial artists may decide to start their own company. As a result, they need to acquire business abilities to help them manage their workload, clientele, portfolio, and time while operating as separate businesses. They may have to put aside money and comprehend the financial ramifications to rent a workplace for their commercial art career or buy the supplies they’ll need to work remotely. Even people who operate from offices can benefit from business management strategies, which can help them create budgets and allocate money for side hustle ventures like freelancing.


Commercial painters are accustomed to working in groups as opposed to alone, as they are employed in teams. Although the image, storyboard, or 3D model that commercial artists produce has a significant impact, the project’s final course and outcome depend on a team of many people instead of just the illustrator. Commercial painters in commercial art careers are adept at meeting everyone’s needs by including their opinions and requests in the final product. This also involves their capacity for comprehending a group and applying what they learn to their task.


Multitasking abilities can assist independent commercial artists maintain focus on each project on their calendar. Even people who are employed by advertising agencies might benefit from learning how to multitask by managing several projects at once, even if they have distinct artistic focuses or are at various stages of development. Despite having diverse abilities and concentration for each activity, multitasking in commercial art careers can assist commercial artists to handle staff meetings, completing illustrations, building a storyboard, and producing 3D model mockups of designs within the same timetable.

Commercial art careers

Here are six commercial art careers.

1. Illustrator

National average yearly salary: $53,831

Primary responsibilities: Illustrators in commercial art careers frequently work in the entertainment or digital arts sectors. Video game firms or television and movie studios might create graphics, scenery, and other visuals. Others create artistic designs for goods like calendars, gift wraps, or greeting cards.

2. A web designer

National average yearly salary: $49,456 year.

Primary responsibilities: A web designer in a commercial art career builds, designs, and updates websites for various businesses using software and creative abilities. They leverage their understanding of user experience to design a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing website for customers. Other duties include creating attractive websites with a variety of typefaces and colors, creating visual imagery, and communicating design concepts through site maps and user flows.

3. A graphic artist

National average yearly salary: $54,006

Primary responsibilities: A graphic designer in a commercial art career often produces graphics to advance a company’s brand for an advertising firm, graphic design company, or the marketing division of an organization. Their primary responsibilities include creating company logos, building websites, selecting fonts and colors that complement various graphic designs, and creating digital promotional materials utilizing design tools.

4. A multimedia artist

National average yearly salary: $57,741

Primary responsibilities: A multimedia designer in a commercial art career creates animated graphics and other multimedia content for digital commercials, movies, websites, and television studios using their expertise in both visual arts and animation. For diverse businesses, they work together with computer programmers and visual artists to create cutting-edge digital graphics, text animations, and video designs.

5. A manager of marketing

National average yearly salary: $63,019

Primary responsibilities: A company’s advertisement-generating process is managed by an advertising manager. Marketing managers in commercial art careers oversee a group of creatives who plan and carry out marketing campaigns to advance a company’s name or wares. Their primary responsibilities include working with clients and staff to define project goals, delegating work to those in charge of advertising, and creating advertising strategies that will successfully market an organization.

6. A director of art

National average yearly salary: $76,845

Primary responsibilities: The artistic component of advertising campaigns is generally handled by art directors, who collaborate closely with clients and members of the art department to establish their objectives for upcoming online advertisements. The primary duties of art directors in a commercial art career include creating the visual elements of advertising campaigns, studying the target audience to ensure that campaigns speak directly to them, and giving staff members advice on the best design practices to use when producing an eye-catching result.

Salary and Prospects for commercial artists

Commercial artists make an average annual salary of $49,120, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the same source, employment opportunities for commercial artists may increase by 14% before 2030. In comparison to most other employment averages, this figure is greater.

The job outlook for commercial art careers varies depending on the specific field, level of education, and experience. However, overall the job outlook for commercial art careers is positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of graphic designers is projected to grow 3% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Additionally, the employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

With the increasing demand for digital media content, there will likely be continued growth in the need for commercial artists who can create engaging visuals for advertising, branding, and marketing. As a result, individuals with a combination of strong technical skills and creative abilities will be highly sought after in the industry.

However, competition for commercial art careers can be fierce, and those with a diverse range of skills and experience will have an advantage. Therefore, aspiring commercial artists need to develop a wide range of skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends to remain competitive in the job market.


A commercial art career can be both challenging and rewarding for those with a passion for creativity and artistic expression. With so many different career paths available, the possibilities for success and personal growth are endless. Pursuing a commercial art career requires a combination of talent, skill, and dedication. By developing your skills, building a portfolio, gaining industry experience, staying up-to-date with technology, networking, and considering further education, you can increase your chances of success in this exciting and rewarding field.

Frequently Asked Questions about commercial art careers

Here are five frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a commercial art career with answers:

  • What education level is required for a commercial art career?

Most entry-level commercial art jobs require a Bachelor’s degree in art or a related field such as graphic design, illustration, animation, or web design. However, some employers may consider candidates with an associate’s degree or a certificate in a specific area of commercial art, coupled with a strong portfolio.

  • What skills are required for a commercial art career?

The skills required for a career in commercial art may vary depending on the specific field, but generally, you should have a strong foundation in art and design principles, excellent communication skills, creativity, attention to detail, and a good understanding of the latest software and technology used in the industry.

  • What is the average salary for a commercial artist?

The average salary for a commercial artist varies depending on the specific role, industry, and location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for graphic designers was $52,110 in May 2019, while multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual wage of $75,270. However, salaries can vary widely based on experience, level of education, and the demand for specific skills.

  • What are some career advancement opportunities in commercial art?

With experience and a proven track record of success, commercial artists can advance to higher-level positions, such as Art Director, Creative Director, or Senior Designer. Additionally, some commercial artists may choose to start their agencies or studios, providing services to clients directly.

  • Is the demand for commercial artists increasing or decreasing?

Overall, the demand for commercial artists is projected to grow in the coming years, particularly as the demand for digital media and online content continues to increase. However, the competition for jobs in the industry is expected to remain high, so it’s essential to develop a wide range of skills and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technology in the field.