Unlocking your artistic skills

The art industry is a diverse field today. Whether you want to work as an individual, or with organisations and public spaces, there are avenues to pursue your creative passions

Update: 2023-06-07 18:15 GMT

If you drive down the streets of New Town, Kolkata, you will discover beautiful and arty surprises at each turn. From Satyajit Ray’s intricately designed face on the railings to iconic landmarks like the Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, and College Street, every stroke of the brush reveals the soul of Kolkata. In fact, an entire street has been transformed in New Town into a captivating gallery showcasing the city’s cultural legacy.

However, not too long ago, the world of art was confined within the halls of galleries, accessible only to a privileged few. It was reserved mostly for the elite, those who possessed the means to indulge in exquisite paintings and sculptures, taking them home as prized possessions. However, times have evolved, and today we are no longer relegated to only traditional art forms. Blending art with technology, today there are diverse career paths available in the art industry.

From art curator, graphic designer, professor, animator, art restorer, interior designer, textile designer, technical illustrator, industrial designer to advertising designer, today the art world offers endless opportunities for individuals to pursue their creative passions.

Kolkata-based artist Subuddha Ghosh, whose works on acrylic on canvas have travelled to several parts of India and abroad, doesn’t mince his words when he tells us how opportunities in the art industry have expanded significantly in recent years. “With the advent of technology, art has opened up exciting career possibilities. Today, animation, digital illustration and graphic designing are lucrative career options. Gone are those days when an artist had to depend only on the galleries to prosper,” said the 1982 pass-out of the Indian College of Arts & Draftsmanship, Kolkata. The college offers programmes in painting, applied art, sculpture, and graphic (printmaking). Ghosh said this is a good time to pursue art as the universities and colleges have structured syllabi under the UGC guidelines.

In fact, graphic designing is one of the most sought-after career options for those interested in the art industry. Ghosh himself worked as a graphic designer at the Doordarshan for more than 32 years.

Then, there’s also the option of 3D paintings and multimedia installations. People with artistic skills and a creative bent of mind are also needed in gaming, film, television, advertising, fashion and interior design.

“The diversified nature of art offers plentiful and sufficient career directions, opportunities, and self-guided avenues in any number of areas, may it be technology-based or otherwise. One can work independently using creativity and whatever area one does as their profession. Art cannot be framed within a smaller description. This can include a professional who produces art like fine art, as well as a professional who works with it to enhance expertise. Art not only can exist in entertainment show biz but can also find its existence in industries like marketing, news reporting, medicine, and into many more corporates,” said MM Ramya, dean, AM Jain College. She further added: “The postmodern era has created lots of technology-based platforms for art-related people to see themselves as successful entrepreneurs by just promoting their hobbies and taste as sales commodities. The scope of the art business seems to grow in leaps and bounds in the future.”

One significant development in the art world has been the rise of muralists and street art. Graffiti artists and muralists have transformed the art landscape, thus making a broader audience interact with art. Several muralists and street artists are collaborating with organisations and communities to showcase their innovations.

Talking about street art, graffiti and installations take us to the Behala Art Fest in Kolkata, which is the brainchild of renowned Sanatan Dinda. Though Dinda has kept himself away from the art galleries, he believes “art is for everyone.” Dinda, who is credited as one of the artists to have started theme-based Durga Puja installations in Kolkata, said in an interview: “Nearly 25 years ago, I wondered what would happen to the Art College pass-outs. I provided them with a platform through Durga Puja. Today, Durga Puja has become mainstream art.”

According to Mudita Pasari, academic dean, The Design Village, art is no more a pen-on-paper tool. It has expanded and taken many forms across the digital, physical, mixed media and mixed reality domains. “We must acknowledge the potential held within the realms of AR, VR, NFT, crypto art, filmmaking, gaming and alternate world-building exercises. We must expand our perception to look beyond art as a hobby, as a side hustle, or as a tool to while away time. From STEM to STEAM has been a long-standing educational movement and it is time that the Indian educational system and our sociocultural models encourage this methodology. Such forward-looking initiatives will not just give us the possibility of more art aspirants, but encourage empathy, acute awareness and critical thought in our next generations, helping develop a much more stable society of tomorrow,” she said.

Across the world, there’s also a rising demand for art therapists and wellness coaches. Artists also find their way into the publishing industry. Take the example of Atish Thakur, who also passed out from the Indian College of Arts & Draftsmanship, Kolkata. In his third year, Thakur moved to commercial art and then made a career in the publishing industry as a visual artist and designer for 30 years. However, he kept his passion to paint alive. Mostly interested in watercolour and acrylic on canvas, Thakur said: “Today, 3D painting is gaining popularity across the world. Various organisations, businesses and public spaces are embracing 3D painting and virtual reality applications to reach a wider audience.”

For Ramya of AM Jain College, art is more than a subject matter. “Since people are unaware of the utility and prospects that art offers, they fear to tread. A good sense of art can make a retail seller a product designer, a civil engineer a landscape architect, etc. It empowers people with creative skills that can be applied to any domain. Professionals can be self-taught by the artistic sense they possess. A good eye for colours, design, space sense, and a little technical skill can make an ordinary person an interior designer. This paves the way for a high -paying in-demand career for anybody. Art makes us humane. It makes you think outside the box. It is the simplest way to teach and learn history, war, technology, science, social living, etc., those that we need to live as a society,” she said. 

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