Today’s illustrators have more career options than ever before. They can work in animation or game design. They can work for software companies or creative firms. They can work for marketing companies and film studios and they can even find lucrative positions in the legal, medical, and publishing fields. Just a few specific job titles for illustrators include children’s book illustrator, advertising illustrator, video game illustrator, courtroom illustrator, storyboard artist, editorial illustrator, fashion illustrator, medical or technical illustrator, courtroom sketch artists, forensic artist, and fine artist.
In the state of Utah, aspiring illustrators may find employment in any of the areas mentioned above and many others. Just a few potential employers in the state include Epic Games – ChAIR entertainment Group, Salt Lake City; Fluid Advertising, Bountiful; Fusion360, Millcreek; Bowen Studios, Salt Lake City; BWP Communications, Salt Lake City; Creative Media Group, Orem; React Games, Salt Lake City; Richter7, Inc., Salt Lake City, and Silverlode Interactive, Provo.
Utah-based illustrators can also find teaching positons at some 1,000+ elementary and postsecondary schools, hundreds of art centers, around a dozen community colleges, and dozens of art and design schools, and traditional colleges and universities. Just a few options include Salt Lake Community College, The Visual Art Institute, and Broadview Entertainment Arts University (BEAU). All are located in Salt Lake City—Utah’s largest city.
Utah Illustration Schools
From traditional schools such as University of Utah to edgy educational institutions such as BEAU, Utah’s collection of 41 Title IV degree-granting colleges is one of the most diverse in the region. This means, students will find a major to match every career ambition. A number of Utah schools offer programs for illustrators. Even better is, these respected colleges are at the top of the list of “best schools in the region” for this popular major.
Southern Utah University – Degrees Offered: BFA Studio Arts with an Illustration or Painting/Drawing/Printmaking Emphasis
Utah State University – Degrees Offered: BFA Drawing and Painting
Utah Valley University (UVU) - Degrees Offered: BFA Art and Visual Communications - Illustration Emphasis, BFA Painting/Drawing
Brigham Young University - Degrees Offered: BFA Illustration, Studio Arts
Salt Lake City
Broadview Entertainment Arts University (BEAU) - Degrees Offered: BFA Visual Design with Specializations in Game Art and Comic & Sequential Art. Note: According to the BEAU website, the BFA in Comic and Sequential Art at was designed for students who want to create cartoons, comic books, storyboards, graphic novels and animated features.
University of Utah – Degrees Offered: BFA Painting & Drawing; MFA Art with a Painting & Drawing Focus; Minor Drawing
Westminster College – Degrees Offered: BFA Painting and Drawing, Studio Arts; BA Studio
More Utah Illustration related programs to consider:
- Savannah, Atlanta, Hong Kong, France, and Online via SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for Utah Illustrators
Utah is home to 18,280 professionals working in Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media (ADESM) occupations. They average $44,530 per year, up from $41,960 in 2010 when the state was home to 16,580 ADESM workers. Of this group, 210 are ‘Fine Artists Including Painters, Sculptors, and Illustrators.’ The average salary for these artists is $38,130 per year, down slightly from $39,750 in 2010 when the state was home to 130 fine artists.
It is important to note that many fine artists are self-employed. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the “Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers” ‘industry’ has the highest level and highest concentration of employment for fine artists. This means it is safe to assume that the population of illustrators in the Utah is likely much higher. Further, these individuals typically enjoy higher salaries and a better employment outlook. Independent artists average $43,390 per year and employment growth is much higher than the national average of three percent for fine artists.
Nationwide, the median annual wage for fine artists is $43,890, which was higher than the median annual wage of $35,540 for all occupations. According to the BLS, employment of fine artists is projected to grow three percent for the 2014-2024 decade, as mentioned, which is slower than the average for all occupations. However, this growth will result in 800 new salaried jobs in comparison to just 100 for craft artists and the “Artists and Related Workers, All Other” group.
The industries with the highest levels of employment for 'Fine Artists Including Illustrators, Painters, and Sculptors' are:
- Independent Artists, Writers, and Performers
- Motion Picture and Video Industries
- Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers
- Newspaper, Periodical, Book, and Directory Publishers
- Software Publishers
The top paying industries for fine artists are:
- Wholesale Electronic Markets and Agents and Brokers (average annual $119,870)
- Software Publishers ($94,680)
- Scientific Research and Development Services ($76,580)
- Employment Services ($72,120)
- Motion Picture and Video Industries ($66,210)
The top five highest paying states for fine artists are:
- Arizona ($95,600)
- New York ($75,940)
- Washington ($71,200)
- Connecticut ($70,070)
- California ($62,950)
The state’s with the highest employment levels for fine artists are California (#1), New York (#2), Ohio (#3), Florida (#4), and Texas (#5). While employment opportunities can be found in many cities in Utah, aspiring illustrators may increase their chances of landing a position in the field by exploring the state’s larger cities first. They include Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, West Jordan, Orem, Sandy, Ogden, St. George, and Layton. Other cities worth exploring are Bountiful, Millcreek, Draper, Taylorsville, Murray, Logan, and Lehi.
Awesome Animation Fact: According to David Lally, a tech artist at Pixar, all the broccoli from the studios animated feature Inside Out (2015) was swapped out with green peppers for the Japanese version. [Culturally, these vegetables are the biggest bugbear of that nation's children when urged to 'eat their greens']. -Creative Bloq (CB), Future Publishing Limited, UK