Fine arts

Fine arts graduates can develop successful careers contributing to the cultural and creative wellbeing of our communities.

Career opportunities in a changing world

Globalisation and the explosion of digital connectivity has opened a whole new world of creative career opportunities for fine arts graduates.

As knowledge becomes more accessible, communities connect and barriers to business are lowered, it’s up to fine arts graduates to apply their wide-ranging approaches to contemporary challenges in new and meaningful ways.

The creative careers that our graduates pursue are at the heart of economic, social and cultural transformation. By undoing previous notions of work within a creative career, Elam graduates can find new and exciting opportunities where there previously were none.  

Sector outlook

A significant number of major global cities have centered their economic success, social wellbeing and cultural diversity around creativity. In Auckland, the creative and fine arts sector is a central platform of the Auckland Plan, a document that guides the city’s growth and development for the coming decades.

Fine Arts graduates tend to find work in three broad clusters:

  • Self-employed artists and entrepreneurial creatives
  • Creative roles in the public sector
  • Creative roles in the private sector

Self-employed artists

While the reality of being a full time artist in New Zealand is not without its challenges, Elam graduates are consistently at the forefront of major public exhibitions and events, and have respected and successful representation in dealer galleries here and overseas.

Income for these professions comes from the direct sales of work or from commissions, contract work or the monetizing of individual creative talent.

Creative roles in the public sector

This group of professions is often focused on social and cultural good, whether that be in public institutions, NGOs or in strong, respected professions such as teaching.

Salary structures tend to be more traditional though there are also a number of independent contractors working in these fields.

Elam graduates are among the leading educators in New Zealand and hold important positions that rely on the skills they acquired in their degrees in art galleries, local government and other public sector areas.

Creative roles in the private sector

Elam graduates thrive in the private sector, developing professions in film, graphic design, content creation and other industries where the successful marriage of creativity and commerce is a key advantage.

As with the public sector, income within the creative industries varies depending on the conditions of the field – from more traditional structures of offices or companies to high paying contract work for experts in the relevant fields.  

Tu’s story

The Bachelor of Fine Arts programme helped Tu Neill discover a passion for photography and find his calling as a filmmaker and editor.

Job options

Elam alumni are employed around the world. Some, such as Simon Denny and Luke Willis Thompson, have gained international attention for their work. Others are employed in diverse roles such as filmmaking, designers, educators, jewellery designers, advertisers, auction house directors and fashion houses.

Graduates can pursue a wide range of creative roles and industries, including:

  • Artist
  • Film and video maker
  • Cinematographer
  • Art auction specialist
  • Gallery manager
  • Artistic director
  • Graphic designer
  • Fashion designer
  • Curator
  • Teacher
  • Photographer
  • Journalist
  • Critic
  • Illustrator
  • Film set designer
  • Blogger
  • Community worker
  • Advertising account manager
  • Entrepreneurial creative