Multimedia Arts and Animation


 
Quick Facts: Multimedia Artists and Animators
2017 Median Pay $70,530 per year 
$33.91 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 73,700
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 6,200

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Multimedia Arts and Animation Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Multimedia Artists and Animators Do

Multimedia artists and animators create two- and three-dimensional models, animation, and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Multimedia Arts & Animation

Duties of multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Use computer programs and illustrations to create graphics and animation
  • Work with a team of animators and artists to create a movie, game, or visual effect
  • Research upcoming projects to help create realistic designs or animations
  • Develop storyboards that map out key scenes in animations
  • Edit animations and effects on the basis of feedback from directors, other animators, game designers, or clients
  • Meet with clients, other animators, games designers, directors, and other staff (which may include actors) to review deadlines and development time lines

Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Creating computer-generated images (known as CGI) may include taking images of an actor’s movements and then animating them into three-dimensional characters. Other animators design scenery or backgrounds for locations.

Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or in scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on level design: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.

Animators work in teams to develop a movie, a visual effect, or an electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then the pieces are put together to create one cohesive animation.

Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily by using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Video game designers also work in a wide variety of platforms, including mobile gaming and online social networks.

Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating the resulting images into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards or “animatics,” which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.

Many multimedia artists and animators put their creative work on the Internet. If the images become popular, these artists can gain more recognition, which can lead to future employment or freelance work.

Multimedia artists and animators held about 73,700 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of multimedia artists and animators were as follows:

Self-employed workers: 59%

Motion picture and video industries: 11%

Computer systems design and related services: 6%

Software publishers: 5%

Advertising, public relations, and related services: 4%

Many artists and animators work in offices; others work from home.

Work Schedules

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular work schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.


How to Become Multimedia Artists and Animators

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop both an impressive portfolio of work and the strong technical skills that many employers prefer.

Education

Employers typically require a bachelor’s degree, and they look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills. Multimedia artists and animators typically have a bachelor’s degree in fine art, computer graphics, animation, or a related field. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science in addition to art courses.

Bachelor’s degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often require classes in drawing, animation, and film. Many schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.

Advancement

Multimedia artists and animators who show strong teamwork and time-management skills can advance to supervisory positions, where they are responsible for one aspect of a visual effects team. Some artists might advance to leadership or directorial positions, such as an art director or a producer or director.

Other Experience

Skills in graphics and animation can be honed through self-study. Multimedia artists and animators can develop these skills to enhance their portfolios, which can make it easier to find job opportunities.  

Important Qualities

Artistic talent. Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of color, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for artistic shortcomings with better technical skills.

Communication skills. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a complex team and respond well to criticism and feedback.

Computer skills. Many multimedia artists and animators use computer programs or write programming code to do most of their work.

Creativity. Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make them come to life.

Time-management skills. The hours required by most studio and game design companies can be long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to manage their time effectively when a deadline approaches.


Salaries for Multimedia Artists and Animators

In May 2017, the median annual wages for multimedia artists and animators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

 

Software publishers: $80,850

Motion picture and video industries: $77,240

Computer systems design and related services: $72,820

Advertising, public relations, and related services: $67,700

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular full-time work schedule; however, when deadlines are approaching, they may need to work nights and weekends.

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. Job growth may be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios may save money on animation by using lower paid workers outside of the United States.

Consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies. This will create demand for newer computer hardware, which will enhance the complexity of animation and visual effects. Additional multimedia artists and animators will be required to meet this increased demand.

Further, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Multimedia artists will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.

Job Prospects

Despite positive job growth, there will be competition for job openings because many recent graduates will be interested in entering the occupation. In addition to having a robust portfolio, those who specialize in a specific type of animation or in a specific skill, such as drawing or computer programming, should have the best opportunities.

Employment projections data for Multimedia Artists and Animators, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 73,700

Projected Employment, 2026: 79,900

Change, 2016-2026: +8%, +6,200


Careers Related to multimedia artists and animators

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Craft and Fine Artists

Craft and fine artists use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition. Craft artists create handmade objects, such as pottery, glassware, textiles, and other objects that are designed to be functional. Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create original works of art for their aesthetic value, rather than for a functional one.

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports.

Producers and Directors

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Art DirectorsBachelor's degree$92,500
Computer ProgrammersBachelor's degree$82,240
Craft and Fine Artists$49,160
Film and Video Editors and Camera OperatorsBachelor's degree$58,210
Graphic DesignersBachelor's degree$48,700
Producers and DirectorsBachelor's degree$71,620
Web DevelopersAssociate's degree$67,990

Citation:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Multimedia Artists and Animators, 
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm