Multimedia Artists and Animators

Summary

multimedia artists and animators image
Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other media.
Quick Facts: Multimedia Artists and Animators
2012 Median Pay $61,370 per year
$29.50 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 68,900
Job Outlook, 2012-22 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 4,300

What Multimedia Artists and Animators Do

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Work Environment

Multimedia artists and animators held about 68,900 jobs in 2012. In 2012, about 57 percent of workers were self-employed.

How to Become a Multimedia Artist or Animator

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

Pay

The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $61,370 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of multimedia artists and animators with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about multimedia artists and animators by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Multimedia Artists and Animators Do About this section

Multimedia artists and animators
Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific form of media, such as animated movies, video games, or visual effects.

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

Duties

Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:

  • Create graphics and animation using computer programs and illustrations
  • 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 timelines

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, which are then animated 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 all the animators put the pieces 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.

Work Environment About this section

Multimedia artists and animators
Multimedia artists and animators frequently work in offices.

Multimedia artists and animators held about 68,900 jobs in 2012. In 2012, about 57 percent of workers were self-employed. Artists and animators, not just those who are self-employed, often work from home. Some work for motion picture or video game studios and frequently work in offices.

The industries that employed the most multimedia artists and animators in 2012 were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries13%
Computer systems design and related services6
Software publishers5
Advertising, public relations, and related services4

Work Schedules

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular work schedule, although it is not unusual for them to work 50-hour weeks. When deadlines are approaching, they may work nights and weekends.

How to Become a Multimedia Artist or Animator About this section

Multimedia artists and animators
Employers look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills.

Most multimedia artists and animators need a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, art, or a related field to develop a strong portfolio of work and learn 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, such as programming, and in graphics.

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.

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. Those with artistic talent, however, may be able to find work that does not require strong computer skills.

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 are long, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able manage their time when a deadline approaches.

Training

Some animation studios have their own software and computer applications that they use to create films. They give workers on-the-job training to use this software. Animators may be hired for a probationary period while they prove that they have the skills and talent to become a permanent employee.

Pay About this section

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Median annual wages, May 2012

Multimedia artists and animators

$61,370

Art and design workers

$42,250

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators was $61,370 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,860, and the top 10 percent earned more than $113,470.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for multimedia artists and animators in the top four industries in which these artists and animators worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries$72,680
Software publishers62,310
Advertising, public relations, and related services60,220
Computer systems design and related services58,950

Most multimedia artists and animators work a regular work schedule, although it is not unusual for them to work 50-hour weeks. When deadlines are approaching, they may work nights and weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Multimedia artists and animators

6%

Art and design workers

5%

 

Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than 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 will be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios often 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. They will also demand newer computer hardware, which adds to the complexity of the games themselves. Video game studios will require additional multimedia artists and animators to meet this increased demand. Some of the additional work may be sent overseas.

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

Job Prospects

Despite modest job growth, there will be competition for job openings because many recent graduates are interested in entering the occupation. Opportunities should be best for those who have a wide range of skills or who specialize in a highly specific type of animation or effect.

Employment projections data for multimedia artists and animators, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Multimedia artists and animators

27-1014 68,900 73,200 6 4,300 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of multimedia artists and animators.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Art directors

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.

Bachelor’s degree $80,880
Computer programmers

Computer Programmers

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

Bachelor’s degree $74,280
Craft and fine artists

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 or 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.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,380
Graphic designers

Graphic Designers

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

Bachelor’s degree $44,150
Web developers

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 performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. They also may create content for the site.

Associate’s degree $62,500
computer network architects image

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from a small connection between two offices to a multinational series of globally distributed communications systems.

Bachelor’s degree $91,000
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Multimedia Artists and Animators,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/multimedia-artists-and-animators.htm (visited July 30, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014