Commercial Artist Description

by Stephen Jeske

Commercial artists apply their creative expertise to help businesses sell and market their wares. Advertising, sales and marketing departments rely on artists to create auditory and visual concepts to communicate ideas and capture the attention of consumers. Though some create their designs by hand, technology plays an important role in the work of most commercial artists.


In consultation with their client or art director, a commercial artist defines a project's scope, advises how to reach the desired audience, and how the design will convey the intended message. Using this information, the artist creates visual graphics or audio images for use on websites and in sales and marketing materials. Designs are created using a number of media, including illustration, paint, photography, and computer software. Advertising, marketing and public relations all rely on effective design, and commercial artists often collaborate with others in these departments.

Education and Training

While a professional portfolio reveals the creativity and originality of an applicant, many employers expect individuals to also have a bachelor's degree in graphic design or a related field. Programs in this field provide practical experience and successfully completing them indicates a certain level of skill. While in school, students assemble a portfolio of their best work, which can be the deciding factor in an employer's decision to offer a job. In addition to the technical skills gained in a graphic design program, students will find business, marketing and writing courses useful when working on project teams. Whether on their own or through formal training, commercial artists must keep pace with changing trends in graphic design technology.


Commercial artists often focus on a specific category, client type or industry. Some may concentrate on posters and signs while others specialize in movie credits. Most commercial artists earn between $33,410 and $59,410 a year with a median annual wage of $44,010, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data also show that specialized design services, and advertising, public relations and related services industries employ 24 percent of commercial artists. These also were the employers paying the highest mean annual wage -- between $49,740 and $51,150.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth for this occupation is projected at 13 percent between 2010 and 2020, which compares to a projected average growth of 14 percent for all U. S. occupations. However, there is a great variance in job growth among different industries. Publishing industries (except Internet) are under technological pressure as consumers move away from printed material. As a result, employment for commercial artists in this industry is expected to decline by 4 percent during the same period. This contrasts with computer systems design and related services, where employment for commercial artists is expected to grow by 61 percent from 2010 to 2020.

About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images