Landing an international art job might seem daunting, but a fine arts job abroad might be closer than you think! There are many positions in the art and fine arts communities abroad, so it may be easier to land in international job than in your own community. Adding an international job to your artist resume will set you up for success in future applications and interviews.
Cities such as London, Tokyo, and Barcelona are well-known for their contributions to the modern art community and the business of fine arts. However, these cities can also be expensive and extremely competitive. The list below outlines a few other options beyond these famous hubs that are perfect for up-and-coming artists.
São Paulo, Brazil is famous for beaches and parties, but there are several areas of the city that breed creativity in emerging and exciting mediums. Outside of the bright, politically-relevant street art that covers São Paulo, artists are dabbling in neon and concept art. The city is supportive of young talent and the art community is welcoming of newcomers.
Jakarta, Indonesia is the place to be if you specialize in digital art. Indonesia is exploding with all things technology and internet related, and the artists here are no exception. If you have a good mind for business and are considering an art-related start-up, this is the place to be for both funding and support. Jakarta is the spot where creativity meets business.
Macau, People’s Republic of China might at first seem like an unexpected choice for an emerging artist. It’s also possible you’ve never heard of it before - as a playground for the wealthy it might not be on your radar quite yet. Under the glitzy surface, Macau has some neighborhoods and organizations that are incredibly supportive of artists. Due to the resources in the city, artists can run with their ideas and might even be able to get funding for it.
Berlin, Germany is a little different than the other cities on this list because it probably comes as no surprise that it’s still at the center of the art world. Photography, design, fashion, and fine art are all thriving in this metropolis. What might be surprising is the affordability of living and working in Berlin - a studio apartment is about $800 per month and public transportation and food are affordable. If you can find a way to live in Berlin, you should.
Depending on your specific medium or specialization, you might consider another location that’s not on this list. For example artists who specialize in art restoration would want to consider Florence, while those who want to work in fashion or design should think about Paris or Milan.
Art Jobs Abroad
There’s no secret formula on how to get an art job abroad or what type of position will end up fitting with an applicant’s skills and interests. The benefit to being an artist is that technically artists can take their work anywhere and find inspiration along the way. New experiences, cultures, and ways of living can give a artists different perspective and lead to deeper and more connected pieces.
However, everyone needs to earn a paycheck. There are two different mindsets for being a working artist abroad. One option is to move to a top choice destination, take an unrelated job, and produce and show work on the side. This allows artists to make a name for themselves and build connections with galleries and other exhibition spaces. The second strategy is to accept any art-related position offered, regardless of the location, in order to boost your resume and gain experience.
Fine arts jobs abroad to consider include jobs as art teachers, assistant curators (usually for lesser known galleries), assisting with art publications, photographers, and graphic designers. Another excellent avenue is to consider administration roles in art and fine arts. Art schools, museums, and organizations need people to run them, and these positions give artists excellent insight into the international art world while allowing them to build their networks for future jobs or exhibitions.
Learning the local language will be helpful in being more marketable and competitive for potential positions and will also give artists a bigger pool of jobs to draw from. However, in many locations in Europe as well as big cities throughout the world, this might not be a consideration especially if artist can solidify a position with an English-speaking organization.
Benefits & Challenges
Getting paid as a working artist while living abroad is a challenge. Consider what sort of external funding you can get for your work before you nail down the destination. Many countries offer artist grants for specific mediums, festivals, public art, or that are exclusively designed for new or emerging artists. Western Europe has historically been the leader of these types of grants, which can support artists through free studio space, connection with other established artists, materials, and a commission for the completed piece. Grants are competitive and require a lot of work, but if you have a good body of work in your portfolio you should consider researching and applying for a few that fit your style and motivation.
Freelancing is another option for artists, depending on your medium. Graphic design, photography, film, and other computer-based mediums lend themselves perfectly to working internationally. You can set your own rates based on the cost of living in your chosen country while becoming involved in local art events in your own community. Regardless of where you choose to live and work abroad, it’s important to build a few connections before you move. This will help with culture shock as well as give you a good idea of daily life in the new country before you go. It’s also vital to maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date website so you have an online portfolio that is accessible from anywhere.
For entry level artists or recent art school graduates, art jobs abroad allow you to get an idea of how other countries value and approach fine art, since this can be quite different from the U.S., which has historically not placed a high emphasis on funding the arts. By showing your work internationally, your artist resume will stand out and could help you land future exhibitions.
Working as an international artist is a dream for many people, however it’s important to remember that very few people actually get to the point of being a recognized international artist. Before beginning a search for an international art job, be reasonable about expectations of what this position will actually look like and outline how it will bring you closer towards your artistic and career goals.