How to get into a successful creative career in 2019

There is a common misconception that the creative industry is in mass decline but it’s actually one of the fastest growing parts of the UK economy. So much so, that in 2017, the value of the sector stood at £101.5bn — which was a significant increase from its £94.8bn valuation back in 2016.

Assumptions are made that a career in a creative field is something that should be stayed away from, but it’s more lucrative than you’d expect. There were around 80,000 jobs created in 2017, and that figure doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

There are a lot of areas of work that are considered to be part of the creative sector. This includes: advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, design (product, graphic and fashion), film, television, video, radio and photography, IT, software and computer services, publishing, museums, galleries and libraries, music, performing and visual arts, animation and visual effects, video games and heritage.

Although these specific jobs have a variation in duties, they all have one thing in common — any person within any of these roles must be creative. However, one area (or talent) that can relate to all these diversified roles is art. People are interested in this too, as the phrase ‘art jobs’ has around 40,500 searches per month on Google, which has notably increased over time. This highlights that there is an interest for paid work, and for many, that means transforming their current hobby which could be anything from creating your own wall murals to building personalised PCs, into an actual income.

An appetite for art

If you spend your spare time sketching or attending various galleries and exhibitions across the country then you should channel this appetite for art into being the driving force behind a successful career in the creative industry. If you love what you do, you’ll welcome mass appreciation from others in the same field.

There’s no denying that you must be talented when it comes to art though — and talent is subjective. When it comes to unleashing your creativity, you need to offer a message in everything that you do. You need to tell a story, sell an experience, and be thought provoking while offering some sort of vulnerability in your work. Art is all about empowering every emotive feeling in your body and is definitely not about getting the perfect shot in the gallery for social media.

Art Academia

If you are super creative, then why not get some qualifications to prove this? Your own artistic personality and talent will take you places but its worthwhile considering an academic route which could enhance your chances of getting the job of your creative dreams. It wouldn’t be fair to say that grades aren’t important, and they certainly can open up a lot of doors, but it’s important to understand that they don’t determine your future.

A lot of those of who are considering a career in the creative industry will begin taking creative subjects at GCSE level in secondary school. Following the grade that they receive, this will determine whether they can then continue the subject as an A-Level, or at college where they will likely complete a Level 3. Students may have to sit a Level 2 at college if they failed their GCSE — however, this will be determined by the course leaders and a strong portfolio could push you straight onto Level 3.

A-Level and Level 3 courses alike will take two years to complete. During this time, you’ll likely host your own exhibition with other students and showcase your work to the public. This is an amazing thing to include on your CV and personal statement when it comes to the next academic step… university!

Everyone has their own judgements on whether studying art at university is beneficial and academia is certainly not for everyone. In the last five years, there has been an evident decrease in the number of UCAS applications for Creative Arts and Design. The deadline analysis from January 2019 found that only 215,330 applied, in comparison to the 224,630 that applied the same time last year.

Experience on a creative-focused university course will differ on the type of degree you’re studying. If you’re studying a history of art degree, your course will be heavily theory-based with a lot of written work. However, if you’re studying a subject such as fine art, expect this to be more practical with workshop-led lessons and tasks that may contribute to your final grade. Most undergraduate art courses last for three years in the UK — however, if you study abroad, this could be up to four years.

Top 10 universities for Art & Design:

  1. Royal College of Art
  2. University College London
  3. University of the Arts London
  4. Goldsmiths, London
  5. The Glasgow School of Art
  6. Loughborough University
  7. University of Oxford
  8. University of Brighton
  9. Edinburgh College of Arts
  10. Lancaster University


Apprentices can be a great alternative to doing a degree if you’re not mad on academic study (apprenticeships can be done after the competition of GCSEs). This is for the artists who know exactly what they want to get into — whether this is costume design, graphics, visual effects, animation, product development or more. The number of apprenticeships available are endless, and the stigma around getting them has finally been removed.

For those considering an apprenticeship in art, know that you’ll be learning directly from industry experts — which isn’t necessarily what you’d gain at university. You’ll likely be working full time and 100% be earning a wage too. From this experience, you’ll be able to work on real-life projects and familiarise yourself with the working environment of your respected field.

What ever route you take, if you have a genuine passion for the creative industry you should be able to find a successful career that works for you.