Fine Art

Industry overview

For as long as mankind has existed, so has the desire to share experiences or tell stories through artwork. Fine art continues to wield a power that challenges us, and allows us to comment on life in expressive ways.

In fine art, the artist usually generates the original idea for the piece, as a means of channelling self-expression. However, clients may also commission an artist to create a piece for a specific location, such as a painting for a business office or a sculpture for a public space. Many artists work on a freelance basis or operate within their own studio. 

The UK's fine art culture is world-class, and more and more British artists, arts organisations and museums are exporting their work internationally.

In 2014, the global art market reached its highest ever-recorded level, a total of just over €51 billion worldwide. The UK is one of the three most prominent nations, dominating 22% of the marketplace, alongside the US (39%) and China (22%).

Post-war and contemporary art lead the global fine-art auction market, making up 48% of all auction sales. (Source: TEFAF Art Market Report 2015)


Career paths

The world of fine art offers you an abundance of employment possibilities and career choices, such as:

  • Artist
  • Illustrator
  • Creative project manager
  • Curator
  • Writer
  • Gallery owner
  • Art historian
  • Photographer
  • Arts administrator
  • Publisher
  • Educator
  • Technical instructor
  • Designer
  • Producer
  • Picture /archive researcher
  • Production assistant.


What you can earn

Earnings will vary greatly depending on work opportunities, reputation and the amount you agree with the client.

It's not unknown for fine artists to earn their living from a combination of exhibiting and selling their creative work with other part-time or full-time jobs.


Graduate employment

Lots of our graduates become self-employed artists and makers, setting up their own businesses and also taking freelance commissions.

Skills and qualities

As a fine art student, you’ll develop a wide range of transferrable skills and qualities that will impress potential employers and set you apart from other graduates, such as:

  • Independence
  • Creative thinking
  • Observation
  • Analysis
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Organisation
  • Collaboration and team work
  • Open to new influences and concepts
  • Able to learn from criticism.

Industry connections

We’ve gained a national reputation which gives our students access to some of the most respected names in the creative industries, including:

  • Animate Projects
  • British Artists’ Film & Video Study Collection
  • Canterbury Festival
  • Film and Video Umbrella
  • LUX
  • Nexus Productions
  • Photoworks
  • Saatchi Gallery
  • Tate Modern
  • Whitstable Biennale
  • Blyth Gallery (Imperial College London)
  • Henry Moore Institute
  • Jerwood Space.


Subject area at UCA

  • Fine Art