Art is the product of creative thought and the human interpretation of ideas and emotions. Artists express thoughts, feelings and ideas by creating paintings or drawings. They put ideas or images into concrete presentations, giving special attention to material, colour, line, form and texture. 

Art teachers help students to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to work in various fields of art, including drawing, sketching, painting in various mediums, papier maché, pottery and working with clay, craft work, model building, etc. 

Finished artists and print finishing artists take design roughs or visuals prepared by graphic designers and art directors through to formal artwork, ready for reproduction onto different materials. 

It is a reflection of and an integral part of human history, progress, and culture. Artists today, as in the past, reflect, record and comment on the world, the beliefs, moments of magnificence and failure, fears and ambitions of society. The artist skillfully gives physical expression to a vision so that the observer can feel and understand the world in the same way.  They create a variety of works using various media including paint, pencil, wood, clay, metal or other materials. They decide on a subject or idea for a work, and then select and prepare the supplies e.g. by stretching the canvas or mixing paints. Some artists create works for their own satisfaction while others undertake commissioned works or portraits.

Quick sketch artists usually draw people, animals, still life pictures or landscapes. Some work from photographs. The works of talented artists are exhibited in art galleries and sometimes sold abroad. Some sell their work to the public by exhibiting in such places as competitions, shows and flea markets. To develop one’s talent usually takes a lot of money for materials and many hours of practice. Once artists become better known, they may be given commissions to produce works for individuals or organisations.

Generally, it is extremely difficult to make a living from art alone, thus most artists cannot support themselves solely on the sale of their work and have to hold down other jobs. Some artists also teach art.

Art teachers work in schools, universities of technology, universities and colleges, and plan lessons according to curricula. They prepare and assign class projects and evaluate the progress of students. They may organise trips to art museums or exhibitions and may also arrange exhibitions. They may also give lessons at home or in a studio

Art teachers at schools are required to attend staff meetings and other school functions and may be required to teach another school subject in addition to art.

Since art teachers work in different school systems, they may have a variety of work settings. Those who teach in poorer school systems may not have the equipment and facilities found in wealthier systems. Art teachers often work outside the classroom so their students can study nature or other environments.

Finished artists and print finishing artists generally translate ideas from layout roughs into an acceptable commercial image suitable for graphic reproduction. They draw objects, diagrams or charts, and paste-up copy and illustrations. Some of them operate cameras and photographic equipment to produce prints for graphic art reproduction. Others use computer-generated graphic techniques, such as drawing and typography, to produce artwork.

Personal Requirements

  • superior artistic ability
  • creative, but practically inclined
  • have imagination and initiative
  • able to give form to thoughts and ideas 
  • able to handle frustration, criticism and rejection
  • manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination
  • able to visualise objects three-dimensionally
  • using your creative talents
  • bringing work to completion

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Compulsory Subjects: Art or a related subjects is highly recommended
Recommended subjects: Art, Design Studies, Engineering and Graphic Design


  • An art portfolio is required to demonstrate your creativity, abilities and commitment.
  • If you intend studying towards a degree in Fine Art at university, you will need to a Bachelor's pass in matric. If you intend studying a diploma in an art-related field, then you will need a Diploma pass in matric.
  • Meet the admission requirements (APS) set by the university or requirements set by the college.


What to Study

Degree: BA (Fine Art) - various universities - UJ, UFS, US, Wits, RU
Diploma: Various diplomas are offered at most universities of technology and universities - CUT, DUT, VUT, TUT

Certificate and short courses: Various courses are offered at colleges and specialised art colleges.

Increasing emphasis is being placed on formal education in preparing for this field. A broad liberal arts background, specialised training at an art college, a university of technology or a university, and private study with established artists is the best possible preparation.

Although formal training is stressed many successful artists have had no such training or have studied on their own. Such artists are usually exceptionally gifted people. For admission to formal training and employment, be prepared to show a portfolio of your work and attend an assessment interview.


  • universities, universities of technology, schools (teaching art)
  • performing arts councils (manager of requisites or set designer)
  • art galleries and museums (educational officer or curator)
  • newspapers and magazines (art critic / journalist)
  • radio and television (art programmes, set designs and graphics)
  • commercial art firms (as graphic designer or liaison officer)
  • self-employed and freelance work

Art Teacher

  • public and private school systems
  • universities, universities of technology and colleges
  • self-employed, with own studio and students or doing freelance work


Finishing artist:

  • advertising agencies
  • design consultancies
  • art studios
  • retail stores
  • publishers of newspapers, books and magazines
  • printers
  • packaging companies
  • educational institutions
  • government departments
  • television studios
  • self-employment, as a freelance finished or print finishing artist

Further Information

National Arts Council
66 Margaret Mcingana Street (Cnr Gwigwi Mrwebi)
South Africa
Tel: 087 700 0683

68/1114 Wargrave Road,
Henley-on-Klip, 1961
Tel: 082 554 9972

Artthrob Online magazine
All Star Studios
2nd Floor, Spencer Square
6 Spencer Road
Salt River
Cape Town, 7925

Getting Started

  • take art courses or extra art lessons or attend a school for ballet, art and music
  • make an appointment to speak to a good artist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

Study Visual Arts at Stellenbosch University

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