A recent survey shows that over half of graduates with an art degree are finding satisfying, well-paying jobs despite the misconceptions about life with an art degree.
The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) released a survey showing that 65 percent of arts graduates have found jobs in art-related fields and 52 percent are content with their income. SNAAP also stated that artists are some of the happiest employees. The survey suggests that the idea of a poor, out-of-work artist is more myth than fact.
According to Purdue, 10 percent of admitted undergraduate students enroll in the College of Liberal Arts. The College of Engineering holds the highest student enrollment at 26 percent of total undergraduates.
“Taking the arts is really important because it presents a different form of problem solving, “ said Charles Gick, a professor of fine arts. “(It) makes you think and look at the world differently.”
One of the main things that may deter students from pursuing the arts, according to Gick, is the perceived lack of a job market. Gick said there are “lots of jobs out there” for art students — they may just need to search more extensively to find one.
Last year, the median annual wage estimated for fine artists was $42,610, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While this figure is still lower than that of an engineer’s salary, some argue that the passion for the arts makes up for the difference between the figures.
Curtis Haase, a sophomore in the College of Health and Human Sciences, recently decided to change his major from applied mathematics to film and believes his devotion to the art will push him to work harder.
“Passion drove me,” Haase said. “(I’m) challenged in a different way.”
Haase said these challenges include thinking more deeply and theoretically. A technical major, he says, requires more “cold and defined” thinking.
The main difficulty Haase has faced is the perception of his major change from other students because Purdue is a very technologically-based school. “Going from something technical to something that’s in liberal arts, sometimes it’s looked down on ... almost like we’re using the school for wrong reasons,” Haase said.
Gick said such misconceptions of art come from the inability to see an artist’s passion while they are working. He said that if more visibility were brought to that experience, more people would realize the value of art education.
“(Art education is) a pivotal experience,” Gick said. “(It’s) an important element to any institution; a vital force that needs to be there.”