Art majors have a number of specialties to choose from, including painting, photography, music, mixed media, graphic design, art history, sculpture, and countless others. Your specialty can influence your professional network, career outlooks, and preferred resources. Generally, craft and fine art professionals can benefit from formal business and customer service training to sell their creative products.
Art majors have a number of honors societies and professional organizations to choose from, since specialty fields diverge so dramatically. For example, photography students and professionals will be involved in very different organizations than theater majors and stage crews. It is important to research professional and academic organizations that best fit your art field.
- National Art Honors Society – This organization was designed specifically to cultivate interest in the arts among students in grades 6-12. While membership isn’t extended to students at the collegiate level, this organization does provide college scholarships for new undergraduates.
- Kappa Pi – This art fraternity was founded in 1911 at the University of Kentucky, and it welcomes international students involved in multidisciplinary art departments. Students who wish to join Kappa Pi as active members must complete at least 12 credit hours within an academic arts program or work professionally within an artistic field for a year.
- Professional Photographers of America (PPA) – This national nonprofit organization helps professional photographers find health insurance, professional development resources, and legal aid for copyright issues. Working photographers can also gain professional credentials through PPA by enrolling in their Certified Professional Photographer program. This credential demonstrates that a photographer meets industry and ethical business standards set by the PPA.
- International Game Developers Association (IGDA) – This professional organization has a very prominent Internet presence, with game developer wikis, article databases, and scholar programs available online for IGDA members. Officers can elect to start an academic chapter at a school or professional chapter in a city or region. The IGDA hosts an annual game development conference, where coders and artists from all around the world can network and learn about the newest industry standards.
- Pi Kappa Lambda (PKL) – This honors society is dedicated to recognizing musicians who have reached certain levels of achievement in academic environments. PKL was founded in 1916 at Northwestern University, and it hosts national conventions every two years to celebrate pivotal musical achievements. In order to gain membership, undergraduates must be within the top 25 percent of their class during their senior year. Graduate students are only admitted if they have earned A grades in 67% of their courses.
- Academy of Interactive Arts and Science (AIAS) – This nonprofit is dedicated to celebrating achievements within interactive art fields. Founded in 1996, the AIAS has gained over 20,000 members after nearly two decades of operation. This organization encourages academic study within the arts by offering foundation scholarships. Events like the D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, and Entertain) Awards are hosted once a year to recognize games, publishers, and developers that are significant contributors to the industry.
- Comic Art Professional Society – This organization is dedicated to professional recognition of cartoonists and other comic art professionals. This society was founded in 1977 by Don Rico of Marvel Comics and Sergio Aragones of Mad Magazine.
Since art is such a broad subject, we’ve provided a sampling of different types of courses on typography, design, photography, art history, music, and theater. The following classes are free of charge and accessible to the public. Course materials often come in video, audio, and PDF formats.
- Introduction to Photography and Related Media – This course is part of MIT’s OpenCourseware series, taught by instructors Reilly Rabitaille, Adele Phillips, Sadia Shirazi, and Andrea Frank. Students get to explore both film and digital photography formats in this introductory class. Course materials include lectures, group discussion recordings, and readings.
- Digital Typography – The art of print and digital fonts is integral to several fields of artistic study and design. Students delve into the history of typography and explore the nuances of digitized type. Assignments include the creation of interactive type projects using JAVA programming.
- History of Western Art and Civilization – Connexions provides this open source course taught by instructor Beth Harris from the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York. Students can download the complete course materials as a PDF document or in ePub format. Students get to explore historical art movements in Florence and Tuscany, including the Ptolemaic System, and the Copernican System.
- Introduction to Western Music – Current and aspiring music students can sample well-known arrangements from the modernist, baroque, and classical periods in this class. This MIT open course is taught by Professor Ellen Harris, who wrote Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas. She is highly regarded as an expert on Baroque opera and soprano performance.
- Introduction to Stagecraft – Theatre students can immerse themselves in this undergraduate course on the technical aspects of theatre production. Students will gain a thorough understanding of how to bring a play to life on stage using sound, lights, and costumes. You will learn how to craft your own costume trousers and furniture props within the span of this course.
Open Access Journals
The following journals deal with a broad range of art submissions – none of them are dedicated to a field specification, such as photography or sculpture. Journals can provide students and academics with a great way to promote themselves or their work amongst like-minded peers.
- Arts – The Arts open access journal is available as a free digital download from the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). This publication covers a wide range of artistic fields, including architecture, animation, film, exhibition studies, and painting.
- Research Institutes in the History of Art Journal (RIHA) – RIHA is an online publication dedicated to art history. Students can explore pivotal works and artists in the Middle Ages, Early Modern Period, and 18th-21st centuries. Special issues include an analysis of Neo-impressionism and a lecture by architect Vincenzo Scamozzi.
- Journal of Arts and Humanities – Art professionals and academics can submit images of their artwork, conference papers, articles, and book chapters for publication in this monthly journal. Previous issues have covered topics such as classical music digital sketchpads and art pedagogy.
- The International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice – Students who plan to blend their art studies with another major or minor can benefit from this journal, which explores the intersections between art and other fields such as medicine, technology, and business. Students and professionals can gain a well-rounded perspective by exploring how other disciplines incorporate creativity and fine arts into their study and workflow.
- Visual Culture and Gender – This annual peer-reviewed journal is edited by Professor Karen Keifer-Boyd of Pennsylvania State University and Professor Deborah Smith of Ohio State University. This journal showcases international visual art, essays, multimedia projects, and reviews.
The following volumes are highly-regarded as “must reads” for students and professionals that work within artistic fields. Many of these address the controversy between artistic skill and education. Other textbooks give students a cursory look at a broad range of art styles throughout history.
- Why Art Cannot be Taught – James Elkins’ writing is both a survival guide for art students and a critique of how our society approaches art and creativity in academia. He imparts wisdom for current and prospective students on how to get the most out of their studio courses, critique time, and experiences outside of school. The author is a well-traveled professor of art history, and currently works at the Art Institute of Chicago.
- Women and Art: Contested Territory – Judy Chicago and Edward Lucie-Smith have written an exhaustive history of the depiction of women as subjects in art and the creation of art by women. They comment on the issues and ideas involved with various depictions of women throughout history. Their observations are accompanied by 200 color images of specific art pieces.
- Defining Contemporary Art – 25 Years in 200 Pivotal Works – This visual tour through a quarter-century of art can help budding art students catch up with the ideas, events, and driving figures of modern art. This volume collects observations from multiple curators who provide their own insights on the cultural movements that let to the creation of these noteworthy pieces. Each visual piece is reproduced in large color photos.
- The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again) – This stream of consciousness written by Andy Warhol can help art students get an idea of the observations, thoughts, and societal environment that influenced Warhol’s work. This artist was well known for keeping his personality separate from his artwork, pulling away to mass-produce pop art. This is why many people might be surprised by the intimacy and depth of observation collected in this book.
- Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp – Duchamp was one of the most pivotal painters and sculptors of the 20th century; he was highly regarded for works like L.H.O.O.Q., In Advance of the Broken Arm, and Fountain. He pushed societal boundaries with the Dada movement, then progressed into his futurist sketches such as “The Large Glass.” This books contains interviews between Duchamp and Pierre Cabanne, which reveal the artist’s thoughts on creative works and art theory.
- Welwel-isms – Ai Weiwei has been no stranger to political struggle. Both Weiwei and his father have fallen victim to government persecution in China for their outspoken and critical works of art. Weiwei-isms are a collection of his commentary posted on Twitter and collected from interviews. They distill the thoughts and ideas of using art in a political context.
- Camera Lucida – Students who are exploring photography can gain much insight into the different theories, practices, and techniques that go into film photography, along with the philosophies of contemporary photographers. Roland Barthes tackles challenging photography theory in this volume, making it appropriate for later undergraduate and graduate-level study.
Online Art Magazines
The visual format of these periodicals make them a perfect resource for viewing contemporary pieces. Art reviews, gallery previews, and high-res photographs are best presented in an online magazine format. All of the following publications can be viewed free of charge, without a subscription.
- Art21 – Writers at Art21 focus on interviewing up-and-coming artists in major international cities such as New York City and Berlin. Readers can also explore contemporary art concerns such as preservation and museum exhibition techniques.
- Juxapoz – This online magazine likes to take a walk on the wild side, exploring the art forms you wouldn’t typically find in a museum. Juxtapose has sections dedicated to street art, erotica, music videos, and other art mediums. Fans can also subscribe to the monthly print version of Juxtapoz.
- Backstage – This is the premier online theatre and film magazine. Get a taste of the stage by browsing the Backstage audition calls, actor resources, and stage forums.
- Saatchi – This is the official online magazine of the Saatchi Gallery, which is based in London. Their publication shines a light on budding, lesser-known international artists. Columnists also post in-depth commentary on cultural events, such as the Frieze art fair, comic conventions, and Rule Britannia.
- Lens Culture – Fine art, urban, conception, black and white, portrait, and landscapes are just some of the photography styles that Lens Culture features online. One of the most unique features of this digital magazine is that it doubles as a community for photographers, allowing you to sign up for a membership and upload your own work for display. Members receive recognition if their works are picked by editors or viewed by the most users.
- Frieze – This online magazine was founded in 1991 and is released eight times a year. Readers can access articles and showcased artworks both online and in print. Frieze is also well known for their art fairs in London and New York, which attract creative professionals from all around the world.
Blogs provide artists with a more informal space to showcase and share creative work. Most of the blogs listed below are run by museums and other art organizations. They typically contain breaking news about upcoming events within the art world.
- Hyperallergic – These bloggers are making strides in bringing publicity to radical artwork and groundbreaking exhibitions. Hyperallergic leverages social media networks, such as Tumblr, to spread the word about upcoming artists and discover new talent. This digital publication was launched in 2009 by Veken Gueyikian and Hrag Vartanian.
- Wooster Collective – Get familiar with the art scene in New York City by paying close attention to the coverage on Wooster Collective. These bloggers cover local gallery exhibitions, book launches, and lectures in this international cultural hub.
- SFMOMA – Open Space is the official blog of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The contributors focus their writing and photography on Bay Area living, art exhibitions, and culture. The editorial team cycles through new groups of writers and artists on a scheduled basis, in order to keep content fresh and interesting.
- Harvard Arts Blog – Prospective and current students can immerse themselves in Cambridge art culture by visiting the Harvard Arts Blog. You can find event listings for nearly every creative trade, including dance, music, theatre, ceramics, and figure drawing.
- Eye Level – This is the official blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Staff members showcase current exhibits, community art discussions, and details about conservation efforts on Eye Level. Students can also find helpful education resources listed on the blog, such as tours, videoconferences, and upcoming professional conferences.
Who to Follow on Twitter
We can learn from our mentors by following them on Twitter. This list contains noteworthy art curators, experts, venues, and creative professionals from across the United States. These people and organizations frequently post current news articles about trends in design, business, and gallery showings.
- @crosstemporal – Matthew Israel is the founder of the Art Genome Project, which runs Artsy.net, one of the largest digital collections of artwork available to the public. Artsy depicts over 85,000 pieces of art from over 150 museums and 1,500 galleries. Matthew regularly tweets images from new pieces of art that have been added to the Genome Project library.
- @allegraburnette – Allegra Burnette is the Creative Director of Digital Media at MoMA in New York City. She regularly posts news regarding upcoming high-profile exhibits and cultural events.
- @museummodernart – This is the official Twitter account for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Fans can reach out to resident artists who are creating artwork live. Followers who mention MoMA in their tweets can interact with these artists directly, and get information on their projects in real time.
- @carnagiehall – This prestigious three-stage concert hall hosts some of the world’s biggest names in performance arts. Catch observations about the latest in chamber music, pop concerts, and orchestra performances touring through the United States.
- @guggenheim – Stay in touch with international art trends by following the Guggenheim Museum on Twitter. This account is regularly updated with info on works displayed at the Venice, New York, Bilbao, and Abu Dhabi Guggenheim museum locations.