Wayne State University

Careers in Art

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 James Pearson Duffy Department as well as in other departments of the College and the University at large. Each student is thereby able to progress from fundamentals to creative and intellectual maturity and 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. 

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.  

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

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.  

2 Dimensional: Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Photography, and Interdisciplinary Electronic Arts 
3 Dimensional: Ceramics, Fibers, Metalsmithing, Sculpture 

Students can also pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Art, Art History, Communication Studies, Design and Merchandising, Film, Journalism and Media Arts and Studies.  

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 and 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. Possible careers include creative and technical designing, product development, and other related fields of the apparel industry. 

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. Possible careers include positions in management, buying, and fashion promotion and sales. 

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. They are encouraged to do an internship, if possible, when they are in upper-level classes. Students are also free and encouraged to take electives from the many fine art and other design disciplines in our department, such as printmaking, digital art, photography, or drawing, to name a few. 

Career options include jobs in advertising agencies, in-house marketing departments, working in smaller studios, or a career freelancing or starting one's own studio. Throughout the year we invite professionals into our department as guests during regular classes or as part of special workshops to meet with students, provide guidance, and offer advice on helping students transition into the professional sphere. 

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 (Seattle), 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. 

While they are still enrolled at Wayne State, students in our program have had internships at: Amazon, Career Now Brands, GE, Hour Detroit, Imagination, Middlecott Design, Plante Moran, PonyRide, Quicken Loans and Salt & Cedar, among other places. Many students gain experience working as graphic designers on campus during their time here. Students have held graphic design positions at the Dean of Students Office, Student Center Graphics and the WSU Theatre program, among other places. 

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

What is 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.  

Career options include commercial and residential design within the architectural and interior design profession, exhibitions and environmental graphic design and product representation and retail sales.  

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

History of Art

The study of the history of art is that part of a humanistic education that focuses specifically on the understanding and interpretation of visual images and material culture. A strength of the humanistic education is that it has a long record of successfully preparing students for diverse career paths. Study of the history of art prepares students in critical reading and analytical skills, and the ability to express effectively ideas orally and in writing.

The visual literacy and competencies of an education in the history of art are essential for all careers in public and private organizations that collect, organize, and exhibit works of art or other visual material. However, it is the versatile application of the humanistic education that has proven to be its strength. In a career world that has become increasingly visual (most of the Internet, for example), a humanistic 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. The skills practiced in the history of art are essential for any career path where analytical and communication skills combine with visual acuity, so that even students proceeding to a variety of professions have found the education their point of departure. 

Museum Studies

A degree program in Museum Studies is not currently offered but courses  addressing Museum Studies are available such as:

Museum Culture: Histories, Critiques, Practices (ACS 5650 – this is a seminar offered for upper-level undergraduate and graduate students and it's taught at the DIA in order to avail ourselves of the museum and its staff as seminar resources). 


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. Talk with the Undergraduate Advisor in Art and Art History about these exciting possibilities. For more information contact WSU Career Services

Career Services assists WSU students with resume writing, interviewing skills and internship assistance. Career Services offer "stop-in" counseling throughout the week (Mon. – Thurs.) whereby students looking for employment are able to have a counselor review their resume and provide consultation. 

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).