From public interactive installations to the images we see on the big screen, examples of visual art are all around us. Animation, graphic design, photography, and digital and interactive art are just a few common forms of visual art. It takes a special individual to create visual art that captures the viewer’s attention, so the field is full of multifaceted artists with advanced creative and technical skills. They create multiple forms of art for art museums, the cinema, advertising agencies, graphics firms, animation studios, and more.
To become a member of this exciting field, education and training is necessary. The right education can help you secure a salaried position in one of the most competitive fields in the career world. Fortunately, the state of South Carolina is home to more than a dozen schools that offer art and design programs—this includes programs for visual artists. Just a few of the top schools for aspiring artists and designers include Claflin University, University of South Carolina (Aiken and Spartanburg), Francis Marion University, and Charleston Southern University.
Before we discuss South Carolina’s best options for aspiring visual artists, the art and culture scene deserves a mention. Art and design can be found in most cities throughout the state (of course), but check out major cities such as Columbia, Charleston, and Mount Pleasant for the biggest attractions. Columbia Museum of Art and the Gibbs Museum of Art in Charleston are two of the state’s top art venues, while the North Charleston City Gallery attracts art lovers from across the region. Mount Pleasant galleries such as Treasure Nest Art Gallery (700 paintings) more than a dozen museums, while Greenville is home of the popular Greenville County Museum of Art.
Other art venues include The Center for the Arts and Gettys Art Center in Rock Hill and Culture & Heritage Museums. Located in York County, Culture & Heritage Museums is a collection of museums that includes Historic Brattonsville, the Museum of York County, Main Street Children's Museum in Old Town Rock Hill, and the McCelvey Center.
South Carolina Visual Arts Schools
According to the most recent report by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), South Carolina is home to 75 Title IV colleges and universities. More than 190,000 students are enrolled, with more than 500 enrolled in the state’s top art programs alone. Continue reading to learn more about South Carolina’s top schools for aspiring visual artists and what they have to offer.
Erskine College – Degrees Offered: B.A. Visual Arts with Concentration in Graphic Design
Francis Marion University - Degrees Offered: B. A. Visual Arts with Visual Communication Specialty
Lander University – Degrees Offered: B. S. Visual Arts with Graphic Design Emphasis
More South Carolina Visual Artist related programs to consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
Employment and Salary Trends for South Carolina Visual Artists
According to the most recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (March 27, 2012), the state of South Carolina is home to 15,130 salaried artists and designers. This large group includes visual artists, animators, filmmakers, set designers, illustrators, painters, photographers, graphic designers, and more. The population has increased since 2002, when the state was home to 14,680 salaried artists and designers. The average salary has increased as well from $34,240 in 2002, to $41,560 today.
It is important to note that salaries and employment growth vary depending on a variety of factors such as industry, location, company (size, type, etc.), job title, and more. For example, many visual artists eventually become art directors. These individuals have one of the highest average salaries in the industry, while craft artists have one of the lowest. But whether high or low, location still matters. Just think, California-based art directors average $108,430 per year, while South Carolina-based art directors average $58,060. Craft artists living in South Carolina average $28,000 per year, while California craft artists earn nearly double this amount.
Visual artists can find plenty of places to work throughout The Palmetto State. However, a good place to begin your search is a major city. South Carolina has quite a few. With a population of more than 130,000, Columbia is the state’s largest city, followed by Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Rock Hill, and Greenville. Although much smaller than the top six cities, Summerville, Sumter, Hilton Head Island, Florence, Spartanburg, and Goose Creek are also considered major cities—and they are well worth exploring.