What is a Commercial Artist?

A commercial artist creates visual artworks for commercial purposes, primarily to promote and sell products, services, or ideas. These artists possess a unique blend of creative skills and business acumen, enabling them to bridge the gap between artistic expression and marketing objectives. They work in various mediums, including illustration, graphic design, advertising, and multimedia, to create visually appealing and persuasive artwork that resonates with target audiences.

Commercial artists collaborate closely with clients, such as advertising agencies, corporations, publishers, or design firms, to understand their specific needs and goals. They apply their artistic expertise to translate these requirements into compelling visuals that effectively communicate the intended message. This may involve designing logos, packaging, brochures, posters, websites, or creating illustrations for books and magazines. Commercial artists often work within strict deadlines and are skilled in adapting their style and technique to align with the brand identity or campaign objectives of their clients. Their work plays an important role in attracting attention, engaging consumers, and ultimately driving sales or promoting brand awareness.

What does a Commercial Artist do?

Two commercial artists looking at a colour palette for design inspiration.

Commercial artists possess the skills to visually communicate messages effectively, enhancing the branding and marketing efforts of businesses and organizations. They create visually appealing and impactful content that captures the attention of the target audience and helps businesses stand out in a competitive market.

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of a commercial artist can vary depending on the specific industry and the scope of the project. However, here are some common tasks and responsibilities associated with the role:

  • Creative Conceptualization: Commercial artists collaborate with clients and marketing teams to develop creative concepts and visual strategies that align with the objectives of the project. They use their artistic skills to translate ideas into visually compelling and engaging designs.
  • Artwork Creation: Commercial artists are responsible for creating visual artwork using various mediums and tools such as illustration, graphic design software, photography, or multimedia applications. They may design logos, advertisements, packaging, brochures, websites, or other marketing materials.
  • Branding and Identity Development: Commercial artists often work on projects related to brand development and identity. They create visual elements such as logos, color schemes, typography, and imagery that effectively represent and convey the brand's personality and values.
  • Collaboration and Client Interaction: Commercial artists work closely with clients, marketing teams, and other stakeholders throughout the creative process. They actively participate in meetings, presentations, and discussions to understand client requirements, provide creative input, and make necessary revisions to artwork based on feedback.
  • Research and Trends: Staying updated with current design trends, industry standards, and emerging technologies is crucial for commercial artists. They conduct research and analysis to identify design trends, target audience preferences, and competitor strategies to ensure their artwork remains relevant and impactful.
  • Time and Project Management: Commercial artists often juggle multiple projects simultaneously, each with its own deadlines. They must effectively manage their time, prioritize tasks, and meet project milestones to ensure timely delivery of high-quality artwork.
  • Adaptability and Revision: Commercial artists need to be flexible and open to incorporating changes and revisions based on client feedback or evolving project requirements. They should be able to modify their artwork, adjust design elements, and accommodate client preferences while maintaining the integrity of the visual message.
  • Technical Skills: Proficiency in relevant software and tools such as Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), 3D modeling software, or video editing applications is essential for commercial artists. They should have a solid understanding of design principles, color theory, typography, and composition to create visually appealing and effective artwork.

Types of Commercial Artists
There are several types of commercial artists, each specializing in a specific area of commercial art. Here are some common types:

  • Graphic Designer: Graphic designers create visual designs using digital tools and software. They work on projects such as branding, logo design, packaging, advertising materials, websites, and social media graphics.
  • Illustrator: Illustrators specialize in creating hand-drawn or digital illustrations that accompany text or convey specific messages. They work in various industries, including publishing, advertising, editorial, and children's books.
  • Web Designer: Web designers create visually engaging and user-friendly designs for websites. They consider factors such as layout, navigation, typography, and color schemes to create a cohesive and visually appealing online presence for businesses.
  • Photographer: Photography is a form of visual art that involves capturing and creating images using a camera. When photographers engage in creating images for commercial purposes, such as advertising, marketing, product photography, or corporate branding, they fall into the category of commercial art.
  • Multimedia Animator: Multimedia animators create animated content using various multimedia tools and techniques. When they create animations for commercial purposes, such as advertising, marketing campaigns, video games, or promotional videos, they are working as commercial artists.
  • Art Director: While art directors may not directly create visual content themselves, they are deeply involved in the artistic direction and decision-making process. They collaborate with designers, photographers, illustrators, and other commercial artists to develop concepts, establish visual styles, and ensure that the final product effectively communicates the desired message to the target audience.
  • Packaging Designer: Packaging designers specialize in creating visually appealing and functional packaging designs for products. They consider factors such as branding, product information, and consumer appeal while designing packaging that stands out on shelves.
  • Concept Artist: Concept artists create visual concepts and designs for various industries, including video games, film, animation, and advertising. They often work on developing characters, environments, props, and visual storytelling elements.
  • Fashion Illustrator: Fashion illustrators specialize in creating illustrations that showcase clothing, accessories, and fashion designs. They often work with fashion designers, retailers, and magazines to visually communicate fashion concepts and trends.
  • Storyboard Artist: Storyboard artists create visual narratives in the form of sequential drawings or illustrations. They often work in film, television, animation, or advertising to visually plan and communicate the flow and composition of scenes.

Are you suited to be a commercial artist?

Commercial artists have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if commercial artist is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Commercial Artist like?

The workplace of a commercial artist can vary depending on factors such as their specialization, industry, and employment arrangement. Many commercial artists work in studio or office environments. These spaces are specifically designed to facilitate the creative process, providing artists with the necessary tools, software, and resources to create their artwork. They offer a dedicated and collaborative setting where artists can work on their projects, brainstorm ideas with colleagues, and have access to reference materials and technology.

However, with the rise of technology and remote work options, many commercial artists now have the flexibility to work remotely. This means they can work from the comfort of their own homes or any location with a reliable internet connection. Remote work offers numerous advantages, such as flexibility in managing their time, the ability to communicate with clients and collaborators through online platforms, and the convenience of delivering work digitally.

In some cases, commercial artists may find themselves working directly at the client's location. This could be at an advertising agency, the marketing department of a company, or a specific venue. Being on-site allows artists to have immediate access to client input and feedback, fostering a more interactive and iterative creative process. They can collaborate closely with clients, understand their vision and requirements, and make any necessary adjustments in real-time.

Additionally, certain types of commercial artists, such as photographers or illustrators working on location-specific projects, may have to travel for their work. They might visit client sites, attend photo shoots, gather reference materials, or capture specific scenes or landscapes. Traveling provides opportunities for artists to gather inspiration, experience different cultures, and gain unique perspectives that can enrich their artistic work.

It's important to note that the work environment for commercial artists can be diverse and dynamic, and many artists have a mix of work arrangements depending on their projects and clients. They may have a home studio for independent work, collaborate in a shared office space with fellow artists, and visit clients or locations as required. The digital nature of much commercial art allows for flexibility and versatility in terms of where and how artists can work.

Frequently Asked Questions