Multi-Media Artists and Animators Overview

Among artists and related workers including multi-media artists and animators, about 60 percent are self-employed. Usually multi-media artists and animators earn a bachelor’s degree or other art or design postsecondary degree. Competition is usually tough for jobs in the field as it attracts a large number of creative and talented individuals.

Nature of the Work for Multi-Media Artists and Animators

Multi-Media Artists and Animators

All kinds of artists create art in order to communicate feelings, thoughts or ideas using a variety of methods and materials. They may create art that’s abstract, realistic or stylized.

Specifically multi-media artists and animators use computers and other electronic media to create animation, special effects and other visual images on video and film. They typically work in advertising, computer systems design services and motion picture and video industries. Multi-media artists and animators use computers or draw by hand to create special effects or a series of pictures to form animation for use on computer games, movies and television programs. Some create storyboards from animated features, movies or television commercials to present a series of scenes in a comic strip for so that the advertising agency can evaluate the proposed ideas. Storyboards created by multi-media artists and animators also may provide guidelines for the placement of cameras and actors and other production details for television or motion picture sets. Other multi-media artists and animators use computers to create three-dimensional models of objects, which programs can then make move.

Many multi-media artists and animators work in office buildings, lofts, warehouses or in their homes. Those who use computers or sit at drafting tables for many hours of the day may experience fatigue, back pain or eyestrain.

Those who work in advertising agencies, design firms and publishing companies typically work a standard workweek, though some overtime hours may be required to meet deadlines. Self-employed multi-media artists and animators set their own hours.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement for Multi-Media Artists and Animators

A high level of technical expertise is required of multi-media artists and animators, so a bachelor’s degree in fine arts is typical.

Many colleges and universities offer fine arts programs at the bachelor’s degree and masters degree level. In these programs multi-media artists and animators will study core curriculum including natural science, social science and English along with studio art and art history. Many art and design schools offer programs in multi-media arts or animation at the certificate, associate degree or bachelor’s degree level. These programs usually focus more intensely on hands-on art courses than academic programs at a college or university.

Computer training is a big part of degree programs for multi-media artists and animators. From computer graphics to other visual display software, computer skills are critical for multi-media artists and animators.

When hiring entry-level multi-media artists and animators, many employers look for evidence of talent and skill in an artist’s portfolio. This collection of samples includes the best work from postsecondary training in art and visual communications along with samples from internships, which provide a key opportunity for students to develop and build their portfolios.

Multi-media artists and animators just starting out usually start with routine work as they observe other more senior workers and hone their own skills.

Until they are well established in the field many multi-media artists and animators complete freelance work while holding a full-time job. Some freelance while still in school to help build their portfolio.

Those who intend to work on a freelance basis must work to develop a group of clients that will regularly offer contract work. Once recognized widely for skill, such as a well-known cartoonist, multi-media artists and animators may earn high incomes and be selective about the work they take on.

Top 10 Most Popular Fine/Studio Arts Schools

1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
2. California State University, Fullerton (Fullerton, California)
3. University of Colorado, Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)
4. School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts)
5. California State University, Long Beach (Long Beach, California)
6. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (Edinboro, Pennsylvania)
7. Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado)
8. Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida)
9. Northern Illinois University (Dekalb, Illinois)
10. University of Arizona (Tucson, Arizona)

See All Fine/Studio Arts Schools

Employment and Job Outlook for Multi-Media Artists and Animators

Number of People in Profession

28,800

Changing Employment (2008-2018)

Employment is projected to grow about as fast as average (increase 7 - 13%).

Multi-media artists and animators hold about 28,800 jobs. Those not self-employed work for newspaper, periodical, book and software publishers; motion picture and video industries; computer systems design and related services; specialized design services and advertising and related services. Those who are self-employed often provide contract work to design firms, publishing houses, advertising agencies and other businesses.

For artists, employment is expected to grow about as fast as average. Though competition will be tough for both salaried and freelance workers due to the high interest in the career from creative and talented candidates. Those interested in work will exceed the number of available jobs.

One of the reasons jobs will grow faster for multi-media artists and animators than other segments of the field, is the increasing reliance on artists to create multimedia or digital artwork.

Consumers will demand more realistic imagery in video games, 3D animated movies and movie and television special effects, which will spur growth for multi-media artists and animators jobs. In addition mobile technologies will require computer graphics, which will boost the demand for multi-media artists and animators. Animators are even becoming more and more sought after in alternate areas such as design services and scientific research. That said, some animation has been sent to offshore workers, which has a negative effect on jobs for multi-media artists and animators, but this is typically lower priority animation.

The competition for multi-media artists and animators will be tough as the number of available jobs is less than the number of qualified candidates. This gives employers the upper hand to choose from a pool of the most qualified candidates in the field.

Clients and employers are always on the lookout for outstanding style, talent and creativity. Multi-media artists and animators should have better opportunities than some areas of art, though there will still be competition.

Earnings and Salary for Multi-Media Artists and Animators

The median annual salary for multi-media artists and animators is $58,250. The highest 10 percent earn more than $99,130, the lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,360 and the middle 50 percent earn between $43,170 and $77,410. In the motion picture and video industries, multi-media artists and animators earn average annual wages of $70,960 and in the advertising and related services they earn average wages of $57,630.

Annual Salary for Multi-Media Artists and Animators

On average, Multi-Media Artists and Animators earn $58,250 per year.

10% 25% 75% 90% $32,360/yr $43,170/yr $77,410/yr $99,130/yr

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook