Career Profile of Art Studio Assistant

6th June 1928: Sculptor W B Fagan supervises his assistants as they work on a pair of ornamental fireplaces in his studio.
••• 6th June 1928: Sculptor W B Fagan supervises his assistants as they work on a pair of ornamental fireplaces in his studio. Sasha/Getty Images

Art studio assistants typically work for established artists whose works are in high demand. Assistants handle daily operations of a studio so the artists can devote more time to art creation. Work duties vary depending on artists' needs and can range from general to highly specialized assistance.

Being a studio assistant could include secretarial work, bookkeeping, picking up dry-cleaning, stretching canvases, fabricating major artworks, and working on production and post-production of artworks. Assistants may work as an administrative assistant or as a skilled apprentice to an artist. They may work in an artist's studio, an artist's home, or on-site at an exhibition installation.

As each artist is different, as is each situation. Studio assistants may work every day, once a week, once a month, or for specific exhibitions. In the best situations, the job is one of mentorship.

Education and Skills

Art studio assistants often are fresh out of art school or may still be in art school. Working for an established artist helps assistants to see how professional artists work with galleries and museums while still producing new work.

Going to art school is not a requirement to become a studio assistant. However, it is one of the best ways to make connections with both aspiring and established artists, possibly leading to a job with an artist.

Skilled painters would work well in a painters' studios, while skilled sculptors and technicians are of benefit in 3D artists' studios.

Experience with design software, such as Adobe's Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, also is valuable. Even artists who don't work in electronic media still typically have websites or otherwise need to represent their work digitally, and it is valuable to have an assistant who can provide that kind of support.

Good people skills or customer service skills also might be necessary for some positions. Because artists will want to devote more of their time to their work, assistants often need to coordinate communication with representatives from galleries or others seeking to make contact with the artist.

How to Find a Position

These jobs often are found via word of mouth by people working in the arts. They mainly are available in cities such as New York that have big art centers. Sometimes these jobs are advertised in job listings and art school bulletin boards.

Most studio assistants are young artists looking to establish their own careers. So in most cases, the position of studio assistant is a stepping stone. However, some studio assistants may develop long-term relationships with artists and work for them for decades.

Income

Pay varies widely for art studio assistant positions, but because these are often are apprenticeships or entry-level positions, don't expect to earn much more than $10–$12 per hour, based on a 2018 search on Glassdoor.com. Location probably is the biggest factor that will influence the rate of pay, as studios in large metropolitan areas will pay more. That typically comes with a higher cost of living, though.

Whether or not a position is full-time or part-time also will be a factor. If you are an established assistant in a long-term position, you may earn as much as $30,000–$40,000 annually.