Art studio assistants typically work for established artists whose works are in high demand. Assistants handle the daily operations of a studio so artists can devote more time to art creation. Work duties vary depending on artists' needs and can range from general to highly specialized assistance.
In the best situations, the job is one of mentorship. 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.
Art Studio Assistant Duties & Responsibilities
This job generally requires the ability to do the following work:
- Schedule meetings and appointments.
- Answer phones.
- Run errands.
- Stretch canvases.
- Fabricate artworks.
- Assist with production and post-production of artworks.
- Manage websites and social media.
Art studio assistants may focus on administrative duties or may work as a skilled apprentice to an artist, depending on the needs of the employer. They may work in an artist's studio, an artist's home, or on-site at an exhibition installation.
Assistants focused on administrative tasks will spend most of their time handling duties similar to that of a receptionist or secretary. Those working as a skilled apprentice will have more of an opportunity to take a hands-on role in an artist's work.
Art Studio Assistant Salary
A 2019 search on Glassdoor.com shows hourly pay for art studio assistants ranging from about $11 per hour to $15 per hour. Pay can vary greatly, however, depending on the nature of the job. Location probably is the biggest factor because studios in large metropolitan areas will pay more. Permanent, full-time positions can pay as much as $30,000 to $40,000 annually.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track pay for art studio assistants. Pay for art and design workers is tracked, though, and art studio assistants should expect to earn pay closer to what the bottom 10% earns.
- Median Annual Salary: $101,400 ($48.75/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $48,960 ($23.54/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $22,020 ($10.58/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education, Training, & Certification
Art studio assistants often are fresh out of art school or still may be in art school. Working for an established artist helps assistants see how professional artists work with galleries and museums while still producing new work.
- Education: 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.
- Certification: Experience with design software — such as Adobe's Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign — also is valuable. Even artists who don't work in electronic media 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.
Art Studio Assistant Skills & Competencies
A background in art and knowledge of the art world is important, but there also are soft skills that will help an art studio assistant.
- People skills: Assistants often coordinate communication with representatives from galleries or others seeking to make contact with the artist.
- Organizational skills: Keeping a studio organized or an artist's schedule organized often is the primary purpose of an art studio assistant.
- Multitasking: Being a good assistant often involves being able to handle multiple projects at once.
- Computer skills: Many clerical tasks including monitoring and responding to emails and scheduling are handled through business software. As well, assistants often are responsible for updating websites or social media.
Job opportunities for artists and related workers are projected to increase by 5% for the decade ending in 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This trails the 7% job growth projected for all occupations. Jobs for art studio assistants are not tracked specifically, but opportunities in the art world typically are tied to the overall health of the economy since spending on art typically comes from disposable income.
Art studio assistants often are training or aspiring to establish their own art careers, so assistants often will work in environments where their own skills can be most useful. For example, skilled painters would work well in painters' studios, while skilled sculptors and technicians are of benefit in 3D artists' studios.
Art studio assistants' work varies greatly from job to job. It depends on whether or not the position is full-time or part-time, and the needs of the artist or studio also play a role. Nights and weekends are common, especially if assisting with formal gatherings or showings. Each situation is different, as is each artist. Studio assistants may work every day, once a week, once a month, or for specific exhibitions.
How to Get the Job
Inquire directly with art studios or artists about opportunities or review job boards such as Art Jobs.
Write a cover letter specifically geared toward a career in the arts.
Jobs often are found through word of mouth among people working in the arts. Connect with as many people as possible.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in working as an art studio assistant also might consider one of the following career paths, listed with median annual salaries:
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018