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          Helping you find a career in creative arts & design

          The creative arts and design industry is notoriously difficult to crack - but if you do, it can be a very lucrative career. Often people just think of artists and designers, but the industry stretches much further than this, covering gallery curators, photography, musicians and increasingly digital roles such as web designers. It's an industry that's rapidly growing in the UK.

          The work can be stressful because it tends to be project based and largely driven by deadlines. Meeting these deadlines can result in long hours and periods of significant overtime.

          Initially the salaries within this industry can be low and the vast majority of work placements will be unpaid. Often people will work part-time to support themselves as they gather work experience and build up a portfolio of work.

          Perseverance pays off, however, and senior designers who have proved themselves to be reliable can be very well paid within a company.

          Artistic or performance based work will be different to those working in design for a company or consultancy - there really is no set career path for these lines of work. Many workers in this industry choose to freelance, which allows you to be flexible and selective about the work that you do, but it can be difficult in the early stages. It does not guarantee a regular income and can be quite unstable.

          Although there are a lot of courses to provide professional training and you can get a degree, it is possible to thrive in this industry by teaching yourself and working off merit.

          The work could take you travelling internationally, particularly if you work within media or TV where you'll need to be on set. Similarly if you're a performer you might go on tour.

          This industry allows you to have a creative outlet and express yourself whilst being paid for it, which is something not many industries offer.

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          Which skills are needed to work in Creative arts & design?

          The arts and design industry needs you to be creative and confident in trying new things and being able to think outside the box. As technology advances there are new opportunities for creative outlets and it's an industry that thrives from constant change and growth.

          You'll need to have the ability to meet strict deadlines, so time-management skills are essential.

          Often designers will have to liaise with other people and departments to ensure a project is delivered on time and fulfills the brief. Therefore, you'll need to have strong communication skills.

          What work experience do I need?

          Your work experience can be demonstrated through a strong portfolio of freelance work, or work you have done on other placements for clients. Be sure that you have a physical and digital version.

          If you've never done any professional work. That's fine, your portfolio can be made up of projects you've completed in your own time. Try challenging yourself with a brief and a deadline and work towards it. If you'd like to work for a specific company, try designing something with them in mind.

          You can also contact local design companies and ask if you can do any work experience or shadow a member of staff. This will give you an insight into how a professional design company runs on a day to day basis.

          Creative arts & design further reading

          Arts Council England

          Arts Industry

          Arts Hub

          Arts Professional

          Arts Emergency

          Design Council

          British Institute of Interior Design

          UK Web Design Association

          Design Industries Association

          Design Business Association

          Creative Industries Federation

          British Arts Festivals Association

          Performing Arts Network and Development Agency (panda)

          Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association


          ArtWorks Alliance

          British Fashion Council

          UK Fashion & Textile Association

          Creative Industries

          Creative Skillset

          Fashion Association of Britain

          Chartered Society of Designers