West Virginia is one of the smallest states on the map. According to the most recent Census Bureau report (2012), The Mountain State is home to 1.8 million+ residents. While the population is among the smallest in the U.S., West Virginia is home to so many big attractions, you’ll lose count! The New River Gorge Bridge, Snowshoe Mountain, Lost World Caverns, and Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine are just a few.
In addition to unique natural attractions, West Virginia has a lively art and culture scene. The state is home to art venues such as Huntington Museum of Art (HMOA) and The Art Museum of West Virginia University. Performing arts centers such as Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, and Carnegie Hall (one of only four in the world) are just a few other attractions for art lovers.
West Virginia’s scenery, natural wonders, and the art and culture scene attract artists of all kinds from across the U.S. and abroad. Many aspiring artists choose to study in West Virginia as well thanks to an impressive collection of top-rated schools for artists and designers. Just a few of the state’s top schools for aspiring artists include West Virginia Wesleyan College, Marshall University, and University of Charleston. Continue reading to learn more about West Virginia’s best options for aspiring artists.
West Virginia Art Schools
According to the most recent figures released by the National Center for Education Sciences, Institute of Education Sciences (NCES IES), the state of West Virginia is now home to 46 Title IV colleges and universities. More than 100,000 students attend, with hundreds enrolled in the state’s top art schools alone. The list below includes seven of West Virginia’s best options for aspiring artists. Read on the find out what they have to offer.
West Virginia Wesleyan College - Degrees Offered: B. A. Art with Concentration in Graphics Design, Painting + Drawing, Intermedia
West Virginia University - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Art and Design, Studio Arts with Graphic Design, Intermedia, Printmaking; M.A. Studio Arts; M.F.A. Studio Arts, Design/Technology, Art and Design; Minor in Electronic Media, Photography, Studio Art
University of Charleston - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Art with Graphic Design, Studio Art Concentration; Minor in Art
Shepherd University - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Art with Graphic Design, Photography/Computer Digital Media, Printmaking Concentration; Minor in Art, Photography/Computer Digital Media
Marshall University - Degrees Offered: B. F. A. Fine Art, Visual Arts with Graphic Design, Photography Emphasis; B.S. Computer and Information technology with Web Application, Game Development Emphasis, Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) Web Application Development; M. A. Art with Concentration in Graphic Design
Glenville State College - Degrees Offered: B. A. Art with Concentration in Graphic and Digital Design, Studio Art
Fairmont State University - Degrees Offered: B. A. Studio Art with Cross-Media Track, B. S. Contemporary Fine Arts Technology, Graphics Engineering Technology, M.Ed. Digital Media; Minor in Art, Studio Art
More West Virginia Art related programs to consider:
Employment and Salary Trends for West Virginia Artists
According to the most recent report by Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 29, 2012), West Virginia is home to 5,530 salaried artists and designers, down slightly from 5,570 in 2002. Fortunately, salaries are on the rise. In 2002, West Virginia-based artists and designers averaged $31,270. Today the average salary is $37,190.
The “artists and designers” group consists of fine artists (illustrators, painters, sculptors), art directors, photographers, craft artists, animators, and more. This means, average salaries may vary greatly based on specialty area as well as other factors such as education and experience, company, geographic location, and more.
The following information will give you an idea of what to expect for popular careers such as art director, multimedia artists & animator, graphic designers, and photographers.
Art Directors: West Virginia had a population of 40 salaried art directors in 2002. In 2008, the state was home to 60 salaried art directors. In 2002, West Virginia-based art directors averaged $46,550. In 2008, the average salary was $66,950.
Multimedia Artist & Animator: West Virginia was home to 50 salaried multimedia artists & animators in 2002. The population has remained unchanged since then. However, salaries are up from $32,260 in 2002 to $43,060 today.
Graphic Designers: West Virginia had a population of 310 salaried graphic designers in 2002. Today, the state is home to 590. Salaries are on the rise as well. In 2002, West Virginia-based graphic designers averaged $31,790. Today, the average salary is $37,690.
Photographers: West Virginia was home to 260 salaried photographers in 2002. Today, the state is home to 320. They average $25,860, down from $32,470 in 2002.
It is important to note that the art industry is filled with freelancers and independent contractors. Take photographers, or example. According to the Bureau, “more companies contract with freelancers rather than hire their own photographers.” This means, the population for just about every profession within the industry is much larger than reported. Salaries for independent workers vary as well, and in many cases, they are higher than average.
The Bureau reports that independent artists average $82,870 per year. The Bureau also states: “Solo designers who freelanced or worked under contract reported median earnings of $57,000. Design directors, the creative heads of design firms or in-house corporate design departments,” earn $95,000. “Graphic designers with ownership or partnership interests in a firm or who are principals of the firm in some other capacity” average $95,000 per year.
The U.S. is home to well over 1.7 million salaried artists and designers, up from around 1.5 million in 2002. Salaries are on the rise as well. The mean annual wage for salaried artists and designers nationwide is $53,850, up from $41,660 in 2002. For the most lucrative opportunities in the world of salaried artists, many job seekers head to major cities.
In West Virginia, aspiring artists choose the City of Charleston—the state’s largest, followed by Huntington (second largest), Parkersburg (third largest), and Morgantown (number four). Wheeling, Fairmont, Weirton, Martinsburg, Clarksburg, and Beckley are also worth exploring. And finally, certain parts of West Virginia are also close to bustling cities such as Baltimore MD, Greensboro NC, Pittsburgh PA, and Columbus OH.