What Does a Sketch Artist Do?

With the right talent, creativity, and dedication, a sketch artist can be employed in a variety of areas in the workforce, some of which may surprise you. If you'd like to pursue studies in drawing and find a job where you'd utilize your ability to craft sketches, keep reading for more information. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Sketch artists specialize in being able to look at a subject and draw as near as possible a replica of it on paper, using pencils, charcoal, or another medium. You will find sketch artists employed in a variety of areas in the workforce.

Important Facts About Sketch Artists

Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, steady hands, and listening skills
Similar Occupations Multimedia Artist/Animator, Industrial Designer, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Art Director
Work Environment Varies depending on the job
Required Education While secondary and postsecondary education are available, they are rarely required

Job Opportunities

At fairs, you may see them drawing caricatures. If you have ever watched a court show on television, you might have seen an artist in the courtroom, drawing pictures of the jury, the judge, and the witnesses on the stand. You can find the work of sketch artists in newspapers. This occupation pre-dates the existence of the camera and was used to convey important events, like the Civil War. As a sketch artist working for a newspaper, you'll be sent to events or locations to capture stories visually for readers. You might lend your skills to other forms of print media, like books, providing sketch art illustrations for story enhancement.

Sketch artists are also employed by police departments and forensic science professionals. Your duties might involve visiting crime scenes and drawing pictures of the surroundings and the victims. You might also construct a drawing of a face by speaking with witnesses and friends and asking them to describe a person's features. Additionally, you might work with anthropologists to solve demographic questions. For this niche field, you'll need to understand human anatomy, particularly facial structure, as well as be able to handle traumatic and disturbing situations.

Yet another industry where you might work as a sketch artist is architecture, where you'd create sketches of buildings and homes. Of course, there is always the option to pursue the craft of sketching because you love to draw, and you could aspire for your work to be featured in an exhibit at an art museum. Furthermore, if you have good communication skills and would like to encourage others to refine their drawing and sketching abilities, you might consider becoming a teacher.


To begin your trek into the sketch art world, consider a bachelor's degree program in art or fine art. You can narrow your focus in the discipline by choosing drawing or sketching as your concentration. If you want to become a teacher in an elementary, middle, or high school, you'll be required to enroll in a program that grants a teaching certificate. Master's-level training can help you further refine your abilities and find your niche. It will also qualify you to become a college professor.

In addition to general education requirements, you can study topics like art history, visual organization, human anatomy, life drawing, and painting. Throughout your educational program, you'll craft your portfolio, which is a compilation of your best work that serves as your artistic marking tool.

Salary and Employment Outlook

In a May 2014 report, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) indicated that the mean annual wage for fine artists, which includes sketch artists, was $51,120. Employment opportunities for this group were expected to grow by three percent between 2012 and 2022. The BLS reported that the job market will be competitive, since there are more artists than opportunities.

There will likely be more of a demand for artists specializing in graphic design. Fine artists may find it more difficult to earn a salary by only selling their work.

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