I'm An Artist! ...Now What?
Teaching Art Careers to Middle School Students: A Guide
Content Area: Visual Art
Standard: 7.CX.2.1 Analyze careers in art and a variety of other careers in terms of the art skills needed to be successful.
Theme: Careers in art, and what the artist will need for them.
Let me Paint a Mental Portrait...
Ah, 7th Grade. Middle school is a time where the future is close, and personal choice and interest begins to guide young learners. Sometimes, those interest lead to art class, and career options begin to make themselves known to students. As art educators, we want our students to continue to grow in their craft, but so many of them come in with the mentality of "there is no job in art that I can be successful in." So many times, students give up before they ever begin, too afraid of the uncertainty and the "starving artist" mentality that has been enforced time and time again by society. The question is: How do we, as educators, get past the preconceived notions of artistic careers and show students just what they can do with these skills they have?
One way is with readings! That's right, we are breaking out the books (...or computers) in art class and showing these students just what kind of opportunities there are in art! Below are four different resources for art educators to use when exploring and analyzing art careers and what skills can carry over into the job field.
Below is a short video with a few possible careers!
And Now, the Resources!
The Beginning - A Picture Book: "Matthew's Dream" by Leo Leonni
In this book, Matthew, who had no ambition, found his inspiration after visiting an art museum with his class. The theme here - following that artistic vision and using it to guide your own future endeavors - is a perfect transition into this standard. The questions that can be derived from this book (What does it mean to be an artist? What can inspire artists? Does all art look the same? How can art change a person's outlook on life?) are a great way to introduce this idea of having an career in art or an artistic field, and can spark some great discussion among both whole group and small group settings. Plus, it is easy to read and follow along with, great for those readers who struggle or who identify English as their second language! (Billman, 2002)
The Introduction - A Visual: "Careers For Art Students" by Student Art Guides
The Enhancement - A Website: "Explore An Art Career Database" hosted by The Art Career Project
The Conclusion - Nonfiction: "10 Artistic Careers With the Brightest Futures: NEA and BLS" hosted by Huffington Post
The Possibilities Are Endless
All it takes is a spark. And that spark can come from reading, where students can make their own emotional investments, building their background knowledge, which is an important part of internalizing understanding (Fisher & Frey, 2012). With this new understanding, students can come to view this complex field of art with something they hadn't realized before: potential.
Billman, L. W. (2002). Aren’t these books for little kids? Reading and Writing in the Content Areas, 60(3). 48-51. http://educationalleader.com/subtopicintro/read/ASCD/ASCD_374_1.pdf
Costello, B. & Kolodziej, N. J. (2006). A middle school teacher’s guide for selecting picture books. Middle School Journal. 27-33. https://blackboard.ecu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-7903204-dt-content-rid-35771730_1/courses/READ5317671201580/EJ752877%281%29.pdf
Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2012). Improving adolescent literacy: content area strategies at work (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Osborn, S. (2001). Picture books for young adult readers. The ALAN Review, 28 (3), 24. http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/v28n3/osborn.html
Bradford, H. (2011). 10 artistic careers with the brightest futures: nea and bls.Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/09/ten-art-jobs-with-the-brightest-futures_n_893326.html
Explore an art career. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.theartcareerproject.com/art-as-a-career/
Leonni, L. (1995). Matthew’s Dream. Decorah, IA: Dragonfly Books.
Student Art Guide. (2015). [organized lists of different careers in different fields of art]. Careers for art students. Retrieved from http://www.studentartguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/art-careers-list.png