What Do Abstract Artists Do?

Abstract artists work with different media, such as painting and photography. Read on to learn about some of the things that abstract artists can do and how they can make a career of it. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Definition

Abstract artists create visual representations of their unique interpretations of events, emotions, people, places, or anything else. Abstract artists shy away from more traditional styles such as realism and impressionism - even surrealism - in favor of a style that is free from rules and definition. Abstract artists can use colors and shapes in place of people and landscapes, but the feeling they attempt to convey can remain just as strong. Abstract artists use a variety of methods and tools to create their art.

Important Facts About Abstract Artists

Median Salary (2018) $49,380 (for fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators)*
Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Key Skills Originality, manual dexterity, critical thinking, social awareness, clear communication, problem solving, decision making, visualization
Similar Occupations Art directors, archivists, fashion designers, graphic designers, industrial designers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Different Styles of Abstract Art

Abstract art can be created across multiple genres using different media and techniques. The following are a few examples.


Abstract artists use traditional media such as oils, pastels, watercolors, and gouache, but that is where the similarities with non-abstract artists' work end. Abstract artists can attempt to sell their artwork to private art collectors, galleries, or museums.


Abstract photographers work with the same equipment as other photographers, but they may use different cropping techniques and vantage points or perspectives to express the abstraction they desire. Photographers can take their abstract images and sell them for use in advertisements or license them for product placement.


Abstract artists who work in 3-D can create sculptures using clay, wood, metal, or any other number of materials. After you complete your project, you could then attempt to sell the piece to a museum or private collector.

Career Outlook

According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of craft and fine artists in general was projected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations, with a six percent growth expected from 2016-2026. The BLS also noted that earnings for self-employed artists can fluctuate dramatically; it is easier to sell original pieces of art when you are well-known. Since there is much competition for limited gallery space and a relatively small number of those interested in purchasing original pieces of art, it may be in your best interest to find a way to supplement your income. A job as a museum curator, art teacher, or art historian could provide a solid foundation while you try to get your art career off the ground.

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