How To Succeed With a Digital Art Degree in 2023

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Forget about the epithet of a “starving artist.” No, you can’t live in a cardboard box with a digital art degree.

With a little more passion and purpose, you’ll not merely scrape by, and you’ll thrive.

While you may struggle initially (Isn’t it the same everywhere else?), with enough experience and skills, you can earn upwards of $70,000 per year.

But first, what does a digital art degree entail?

Understanding a Digital Arts degree

Digital arts is simply a branch of art that involves creating computerized digital artistic images.

While many courses and skills that a degree in digital art entail, most digital art degree programs are general programs without any distinct career specializations.

digital art degree students

However, the following are some digital art university courses available to those majoring in digital art:

  • 3-D Graphics
  • Animation
  • Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Photography
  • Sound Production
  • Video Game Design
  • Photoshop
  • Digital Calligraphy

Several online art schools offer degrees in digital art as a unique program. Some provide digital art as a later concentration of a general arts degree.

Some of the popular universities renowned for their arts program include the Royal College of Arts based in London. Its location is significant. London is culturally immersed in art, arguably even the art capital of the world.

digital artwork and teaching on a schoolImage Source

But their program is exclusively for post-graduates.

Other famous art schools include the University of the Arts London, Parsons School of Design in the US, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Politecnico di Milano in Italy, Aalto University, Glasgow School of Art, and School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Why You May Need a Digital Arts Degree

A course considered natural talent is fueling a raging debate about the reputational allure of a digital art university degree.

While arguments on either side have some merit, you can’t dismiss the benefits of technical exposure, access to equipment, and networking—that going through a digital art program gives.

digital arts graduates

In addition to receiving some incredible teaching and mentoring from professors who have had a wealth of experience from such industry leaders as Disney, Nickelodeon, and Pixar(of course, if you’re fortunate).

Regardless, a degree is still just a degree. And success never miraculously falls on anyone’s laps.

That’s why we want to reveal to you some tips that—in addition to your digital art degree— you can use to ace the job market.

We’ll systematically go through each career path.

How To Earn $127,000 Annually Doing Animation and 3-D Graphics

While it’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness, a long face and money are strange bedfellows.

3d graphics of astronaut futuristic

With your degree in digital art and animation specifically—you may find yourself earning $10,000 per year.

You may also find yourself earning $127,000 per year.

Digital Animation Salary

Annual Salary

Monthly Pay

Top Earners



75th Percentile






25th Percentile



So what gives?

These tips may make all the difference.

Work on Your Paper; Work Harder on Your Portfolio

First, it’s important to know how to make an art portfolio. Even as you shuffle between lecture rooms and turn in assignments, remember to be building your portfolio.

Your portfolio will gain you admittance inside rooms in animation, whereas degrees will only bring you to the door.

online digital portfolio for artist

While you can acquire good animation skills on YouTube art channels or online courses like, a university is still a great place.

A strong portfolio is a must. However, a university environment gives you meaningful industry contacts, internship, and networking opportunities that eventually help you build a great portfolio.

Be Good With Animation Software

That aside, the university may not go deep enough on particular specific skill-sets or animation software.

Examples of essential, acceptable animation software are the Adobe Animate CC or Adobe After Effects. But Toon Boom is also a popular choice.


It’s possible, I daresay, to learn all of these programs privately.

And the icing is that you can get certifications for most of them and provide a lifesaving add-on to your degree at reasonable fees.

One individual exam for Storyboard Pro, for instance, costs $75.

You Need Pencil and Paper

To be good at animation and 3-D, you should be good at drawing. While you can manage to do 3-D without any fundamental drawing skills, a vital drawing skill will come in handy when creating better poses for your characters.

So if your 3-D classes do not involve drawing, consider taking a drawing class online to sharpen your drawing skills.

One more thing, drawing will help you understand weight and anatomy—and make your 3-D journey a breeze.

You need to be a master drawer by the fourth year if you want to succeed as an artist with your bachelor of digital arts degree

And if the animation and 3-D fields look like the Amazon forest, consider narrowing them down to a specific niche.

An example is animal movements or fight scenes.

Then when starting out, take whatever job you get and concentrate on building your portfolio.

These easy steps will put you in a pole position when it comes to achieving success in the field of digital arts.

How To Do Digital Illustration Like Maurice Sendak

Few illustrators will reach the level of expertise that Maurice Sendak got.

He is considered the most significant book artist of the 20th century, especially in the genre of children’s books.

maurice sendak image

Before we look at how he succeeded, what exactly is digital illustration?

An illustration is basically a drawing or a painting.

There’re technical drawings like the ones done by architects and civil engineers. However, the kind of drawing—or illustration—that we’ll talk about is the one that belongs in the sphere of fine arts.

But instead of pencil or paint,  clay or canvas, we now use technological tools.  A digital illustration represents an artistic image with the use of digital tools.

digital tools in digital art

Let’s now learn some tips to succeed as an illustrator from one who was among the best.

  • When you’re just starting, don’t fear to imitate. It can help you draw inspiration.
  • While getting a degree is good, don’t let it limit you. To be good at specific skills, enrol in short digital art classes. (Some sites like Artstation can both help you market your skills and learn simultaneously).
  • Don’t get discouraged by criticism.
  • Set a creative hour every day. During this time, you can decide to do a nature walk, listen to Beethoven, or read Maya Angelou. Do anything that can reignite your creativity.

If you’re confused between illustration and graphic design, here’s the difference.

Graphic design is drawing purely from an aesthetic, romantic sense. Illustration is drawing with an eye on the dollar.

But both loosely fall under digital art and design, and the line of demarcation is now almost completely obliterated.

graphic designer working on a clean table

Finally, you’ll need to hone your marketing skills. Have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

But wait a minute. There’s a better suggestion.

Combine your degree with digital marketing. You can even do a Marketing major and a digital art minor.

While you may ask yourself questions like, “What can I do with a digital art minor?” Your chances will significantly improve your likelihood of getting a job.

Digital artists fare better when they add marketing to their degrees. Without this, digital artists may not create art successfully. Hence to be a successful digital artist you’ll need both a fine art degree to succeed in the creative industries

How To Become The Best Producer

People rarely Google “What is the relationship between digital arts and media?” Or even a looser one like, “What is digital art and media?”

The reason for this should be apparent.

Digital arts include production, recording, mixing, editing, and dubbing, all related to media, especially sound media.

editor and producer

Digital artists who venture into elements of sound production are called foley artists. If you’ve loved any movie soundtrack, you should probably pay proper homage to the foley artist who accomplished that feat.

Succeeding in the digital arts field requires internships or apprenticeships, which are vital. If you become a member of IMDB Pro, you’ll have the contact details of some of the best foley artists on the globe.

imdb pro preview

But you can just as well promote yourself on online platforms.

Upload a video, work on the sound, put a “before” and “after” for people to compare and assess your skill.

You’ll also have to attend entertainment events and network regularly.

What Do You Do With a Video Game Digital Arts Degree?

A video game degree prepares you for a career in the video game industry.

But what’s the secret of success with this digital arts degree?

You must muster good drawing skills.

Creating video games requires creative artists to graduate with good animation skills. Color theory and digital media skills will also help when getting started in the film industry. You should master them

You can start at online drawing sites like But if you want to take your drawing to platinum levels, especially 3-D drawing, learn ZBrush.

It’s pricey but premium.

If you have your digital arts degree, a strong portfolio, and a ZBrush certification, you’ll be good to go.

But don’t stubbornly insist on working on AAA games. If you can’t, wash your hands and look out for Indie teams.

The experience you’ll get, and the portfolio you’ll build, are priceless.

How Can You Succeed With Photoshop and Calligraphy

Like most digital arts specializations, to succeed with photoshop or calligraphy, build a strong portfolio.

For career paths in photoshop, you’ll need to grasp elements of color theory and digital media skills. With these, you can work your way up to be a creative director

If you’re keen on photoshop, learn digital photography as well. The two skills go hand in hand. You can also create caricatures in photoshop (like for Bill Gates or Rihanna) then post them on Instagram, especially on ads.

Add photo manipulation to your set of skills. With it, TV studios can engage you on a freelance basis. You can even get a foothold in the VFX industry. Again, an excellent reason to upskill on digital photography.

You should also create a profile on sites like Dribble (for photoshop) or for calligraphy.

You may not scale the heights of a Maurice Sendak, but with these tips, you’ll be on a success trajectory.

Featured Image from: Pxhere

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