A painter’s tool of choice is the paintbrush. A graffiti artist uses spray paint to create art. A digital artist or designers uses computer software as a primary tool to create art for video games, websites, installations, and more. While most artists (especially independent artists) work long hours, digital artists and designers have one of the industries most grueling schedules outside of filmmaking. Deadlines are tight and working until 2 a.m. is common. However, digital artists and designers have such a passion for this type of art, that they welcome the challenge.
Aspiring digital artists and designers learn early on that this is an extraordinarily demanding career field. As such, most training programs are intense, which allows artists to experience something similar to what it might be like in the field. Programs such as the Digital Arts + Animation program at Pratt Institute (New York) and the Digital Arts major at the University of Oregon are just a few of the country's most challenging (and respected) programs. While some of the best programs can be found in top ten states such as California and Texas, smaller states such as Vermont and West Virginia also have their fair share.
According to the most recent report by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), West Virginia is home to 46 Title IV degree-granting schools. More than 100,000 students are enrolled, with hundreds enrolled in the state’s top art and design schools alone. Just a few of the state’s best schools for artists and designers include Marshall University, Concord University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Fairmont State University, and University of Charleston. Continue reading to learn more.
West Virginia Digital Art and Design Schools
West Virginia is home to a wide variety of schools that offer programs for aspiring artists and designers. Some are state schools while others are private. Fortunately, all are Title IV, which means they are eligible for federal financial aid programs. This makes them more accessible to talented students with financial need.
While West Virginia’s Title IV schools offer a variety of programs for aspiring artists and designers, two standouts offer programs for aspiring digital artists and designers. Continue reading to find out which schools are tops for aspiring digital artists and designers and what they have to offer.
Glenville State College - Degrees Offered: B. A. Art with Concentration in Graphic and Digital Design, Studio Art
Alderson Broaddus College - Degrees Offered: B. A. Visual Arts with Concentration in Digital Arts, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking Track; B.A. Communications with Video & Radio Track; B.S. Computing with Entertainment Software Development Track; Minor in Digital Arts with Coursework in Computer Animation, Media Computation, Photography, Webmastering; Minor in Visual Arts with Coursework in Drawing, Painting, Photography, Digital Arts, Media Computation, Computer Animation
More West Virginia Digital Art related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for West Virginia Digital Artists
West Virginia was home to 5,570 salaried artists and designers in 2002. They averaged $31,270 per year. Today, the state is home to 5,530 salaried artists and designers earning an average salary of $37,190 per year. Individual salaries vary based on everything from job title to location. The information below should give you a good idea of what to expect in a variety of careers for aspiring digital artists and designers.
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.
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.
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.
Photography & Digital Imaging, Digital Photography: 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 solo artists and artists in management positions in just about any area will likely earn a higher than average salary. 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.
West Virginia has four cities with a population over 30,000. A sizable percentage of the employment opportunities for artists and designers can be found in these cities. They include Charleston (the state’s largest city), Huntington (second largest), Parkersburg (third), and Morgantown (number four). Seven other cities, with a population over 16,000, are also worth exploring. They include Wheeling (pop. 28,803), Fairmont (19,031), Weirton (18,578), Martinsburg (17,112), Beckley (16,758), and Clarksburg (16,408).