Wayne State University

Careers in the Arts

Careers in the Arts

The James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History is dedicated to the understanding, production, and presentation of works of art in all media. It seeks to explore and develop visual literacy as well as technical, critical and conceptual skills. The curriculum combines history, theory, practice, and technology with interdisciplinary learning that aims to nurture a balance between technical proficiency, experimentation with new ideas and studying the visual arts as a means of understanding the intellectual and cultural history of humanity.

By receiving a comprehensive training in the visual arts within the context of a liberal arts education, students are encouraged to master the various avenues of creative investigation and learning within the department as well as in other departments of the College and the University at large. Each student is given the tools of professionalization in a variety of different areas while immersed in the rich diversity of cultural and research opportunities offered by the University as a whole--thereby able to progress from fundamentals to creative and intellectual maturity.

Wayne State University has been training artists and designers for more than 90 years and art historians for more than 70. That's why the James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History's award-winning graduates are working today in a wide range of occupations related to the various areas of concentration.  

The mission of the college is the integration of theory and practice through the creation, discovery, preservation and transmission of knowledge in the fine, performing and communication arts. Students pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree can concentrate in any of the following areas. Following is a short narrative for each concentration in addition to a list of occupations related to that field that a student could potentially investigate and pursue.  

Fine Arts

2 Dimensional: Digital Arts, Drawing, Painting, Photography, Printmaking
3 Dimensional: Ceramics, Fibers, Metalsmithing, Sculpture 

Occupations: Arts Administrator, Commercial Printer, Digital Technician, Advertising, Comic Strip Artist, Court Artist,  Master Printer, Museum Staff, Poster Artist, Press Operator, Print Production Manager, Print Publisher, Print Technician, Printshop Assistant, Printshop Owner, Printing Craftsman, Printing Designer, Production Artist, Production Coordinator, Silkscreen Artist, Digital Print Technician, Typographical Artist, Muralist, Archivist, Art Director, Art Dealer, Advertising, Illustrator, Animation,  Art Direction, Character Design, Concept Artist, Exhibit Design, Design Management, Visual Specialist, Creative Technologist,  Arts and Culture Activity Leader, Retail Associate, Art Gallery Director, Art Gallery Co-Director, Art Appraiser, Art Critic, Art Handler/Installer, Artists' Agent, Color and Materials Designer, Gallery Owner or Director, Independent Artist, Medical Illustrator, Museum Preservationist, Book Artist, Makerspace Community Leader, Artist-in-Residence, Community Studio Owner, Studio Assistant and Studio Manager. 

3 Dimensional: Fabricator, 3D Modeler, 3D Renderer, Production Potter, Studio Assistant, Jeweler, Bench Assistant, Bench Jeweler, Metal Fabrication Artist, Sculptor, Exteriors Designer, Digital Sculptor, Ceramics Engineer, Art Instructor, Pottery Studio Associate, Stone Cutter,  Stage Design, Film Industry Fabricator, Set/Prop Designer, Fabrication Lab Owner, Faux Finisher, Materials technician, Metalsmith, Weaver, Woodworker and Public Artist/Sculptor.  


Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design

Fashion Design and Fashion Merchandising 

Curricula in this area provide a liberal education as well as the opportunity for a professional concentration in the fields of apparel design and fashion merchandising. 

Successful completion of the fashion design major enables students interested in creative and technological aspects of apparel to develop competencies needed for careers in fashion design and related fields.

The fashion merchandising major develops understanding and practical skills related to the planning, buying and selling of fashion merchandise. Students gain insights into the various aspects of the apparel industries including marketing, sales, styling, publicity, advertising, visual presentation, fashion coordination, merchandising and social media.

Occupations: Fashion Designer, Technical Designer, Product Developer, Colorist, Buyer, Manager, Visual Merchandiser, Brand Manager, Brand Ambassador, Social Media Manager, Style Engineer, Textile Technologist, Quality Assurance Manager, Entrepreneur, Design Specialist, Patternmaker, Stylist, Trim Specialist for Automotive Interiors, Film Costuming and Wardrobing, Alteration Tailor and Custom Tailor. 

Graphic Design

The Graphic Design Program at Wayne State University prepares students both practically and conceptually to enter a career working in the field of visual communication as junior designers or production designers, with the potential to work their way up to become art directors, creative directors, and/or studio owners, among other paths. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in typography, principles of graphic design and practical skills. Through electives, students have the option to explore information design, the design of typefaces and letterforms, user experience design, web design and illustration.

While enrolled at Wayne State, students in our program have completed internships at: Amazon, Career Now Brands, GE, Hour Detroit, Imagination, Middlecott Design, Plante Moran, PonyRide, Quicken Loans and Salt & Cedar, among others. Students have also held graphic design positions pn campus at the Dean of Students Office, Student Center Graphics, and the WSU Theatre program, among other places.

Graduates of our program have gone on to work as in-house graphic designers, art directors and creative directors in many companies throughout the Metro Detroit area and beyond, including: Altair Engineering, Amazon, Art Van, Campbell-Ewald, Commonwealth/McCann-Erickson, Detroit Athletic Club, DMC, Global Team Blue (formerly Team Detroit), Helm, Imagination, Metro Times, Organic, Plante Moran, Ricoh, Quicken Loans, and the Work Department, as well as various departments within Wayne State University. In addition, graduates have gone on to found companies of their own, including: Bare All Clothing, Former Co. and Octane Design. 

Occupations: Junior Designer, Senior Designer, Art Director, Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Junior Graphic Designer, UI/UX Designer, UX designer, Interactive Graphic Designer, Junior Art Director, Visual Designer, Digital Designer, Web Designer, Production Designer, Assistant Designer, Design Assistant, Design Technologist, Package Designer, 3D Modeler, Compositor, Environment  Artist and Lighting Artist.   

Industrial Design

Industrial design is a creative professional field encompassing the design of most consumer products, electronic devices, medical devices, transportation products, furniture, exhibits, toys, footwear, fashion accessories, package design, and display design. Industrial designers typically work alongside engineers, business professionals, market researchers and manufacturers to design and produce products that are functional, easy to use, aesthetically attractive, and commercially viable. Industrial design students learn a range of skills that allow them to generate and communicate new ideas through drawing, digital rendering, 3D modeling, prototyping, and testing. Students also learn qualitative consumer research techniques to help them develop products that solve for a broad range of human needs.  

Occupations: Consumer Product Design, Furniture Design, Medical Product Design , Footwear Design, Exhibit Design, Point-of-Purchase Design, Package Design, Design Research, 3D Modeling and Digital Sculpting.  

Interior Design

The Interior Design Program  at Wayne State University prepares professionals committed to improving the quality of life, increasing circulation, function, productivity and protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public in Interior environments.  The interior design major develops practical reality based skills and understanding related to the built environment, while gaining insights to the NCIDQ Exam requirements. The  curriculum provides a rigorous investigation into the conceptualization through the functional design of interior space with its accessories, finishes, furnishings, lighting and materials.  

Occupations: Intern, CAD Production, Assistant Designer, Head Designer, Material Librarian, Project Manager, Manufacturer's Representative, Retail Sales, Entrepreneur and Automotive Interiors, Exhibtion Designer, Environmental Designer

History of Art

Art History is a rich academic discipline. Students learn about past and present artistic traditions and practices that have shaped our world and gain the critical tools to interpret works of art, architecture, print media, photography, and all forms of visual culture. Art History demands analytical, creative thinking and develops a variety of communication and organizational skills, which are ideal preparation for a wide range of career options or further study in art history or the humanities.

In a career world that has become increasingly visual (most of the Internet, for example), an education in the history of art provides the essential educational preparation for the higher-level positions that require people who can analyze and reason from evidence, and understand how images work. 

Occupations: Currator, Museum Administrator/Director, Art Authenticator, Museum Reproductions/Retail Manager, Art Librarian/Visual Resource Curator, Art Publishing, Auctioneer, Art Exhibit Installer, Art Insurance Adjustor, Architectural Conservator, Antiques Dealer, Art Editor, Art Critic


Professional organizations offer information on a variety of relevant topics such as job postings, events and conferences, networking, exhibition and research opportunities, competitions, current content trends and benchmarking on national and international levels.    

WSU Career Services Office

There are many other career paths with a degree in the Arts.  For more information contact WSU Career Services

Career Services assists WSU students with resume writing, interviewing skills and internship assistance. We recommend for students to contact the office on the day they are planning to arrive to ensure that stop-in is available for that particular day (313/577-3390).