Field of Study: Commercial and Advertising Art
Programs in commercial and advertising art teach people how to convey ideas to businesses and consumers using graphic images. Students learn design principles and lay out text and graphics. They study techniques such as engraving, drawing, and cartooning.
Commercial artists create a moving record of society's moods and popular culture. This is because art, emotion, and business interests come together in advertising. Ads are at the center in all types of consumer spending. Because the public's spending habits can make or break products or companies, businesses invest a lot of money in ads they hope will amuse, delight, provoke, thrill, and attract viewers.
This is a very applied discipline, in that this type of art focuses less on computers and graphic design (see the "Graphic Design" program). Instead, this program teaches you how to apply fine art principles for advertising.
Commercial artists find themselves working for design houses, advertising agencies, and even TV and film studios. In some cases, commercial artists work as illustrators and animators while also creating original artwork they sell on their own. (This is especially true for photographers.) You can even get commissioned to illustrate a children's book!
In commercial and advertising art programs, you take courses in many areas. You take business courses that teach you marketing and advertising principles. You study basic art principles, including color theory, design, and drawing. You learn how to create lifelike animation, color-rich photos, and original graphic designs. In addition, you learn how to integrate pieces of art with advertising ideas. Overall, you learn how to create images that match what the advertisement is hoping to promote.
Several technical schools, colleges, and universities offer related programs. Depending on the school, they may offer certificate programs that take one or two years, associate degree programs that take two years, and bachelor's degree programs that take four years. In some cases, you can study commercial and advertising art as part of a larger graphic design program. In this case, you may learn how to use computer software. Two-year associate degrees in the field are quite common and most can be transferred to a four-year program. In addition, several independent art schools offer commercial and advertising art programs. These programs typically take two years to complete.
About 20 schools offer graduate degree programs in commercial art. These programs take from two to five years after you finish your bachelor's degree. Most people who get graduate degrees in commercial and advertising art become professors or highly specialized artists.