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Painter or Printmaker

Painters and printmakers express artistic ideas in original paintings, mixed-media drawings, etchings and other 2-dimensional artistic works.​

Also Known As

Artisan, Artist, Graphic Artist, Printmaker

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 5136.1: Painters

2006 NOC-S

  • F036: Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists

2011 NOC

  • 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2016 NOC

  • 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2021 NOC

  • 53122: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists

2023 OaSIS

  • 53122.01: Painters
Updated May 19, 2021

Contemporary 2-dimensional art can range in size from a postage stamp to a whole wall. Painters and printmakers generally produce 1 or a limited number of copies of each piece of work.

Painters use brushes, palette knives and specialized tools to artistically apply colour to a variety of surface grounds (for example, canvas, wood, metal, paper, paper-pulp board). In general, painters may:

  • Paint with a variety of media, such as watercolours, acrylics, oils, tempera, gouache or encaustic
  • Create preparatory drawings for the paintings using a variety of media, such as charcoal, chalk, graphite, coloured pencils, inks or pastels
  • Glue or laminate various materials to a surface to create an image (for example, collage or decoupage)
  • Specialize in particular types of media or mixed media

Printmakers prepare surfaces, which they then use to print a limited number of the same image onto other materials (for example, paper or fabric). They may use a variety of manual or chemical methods to carve, etch, expose, apply or emboss the original images and transfer them to other surfaces. Many of these transfer techniques result in a mirror image of the original. These may include:

  • Intaglio - Images on metal plates (produced by etching or engraving, for example) are transferred via a specialized press
  • Relief - Images from linocuts, wood cuts, wood engraving, stone prints and clay prints are transferred by press or hand rubbing
  • Lithography - Very heavy flat stones or metal plates are used as a printing surface and images are transferred via a specialized lithographic printing press
  • Stencil - Stencil prints involve dabbing or brushing ink or paint through cut stencils. Silkscreening is a type of stencil print that uses screens, a work support and hand-held squeegees
  • Monotype - Single images are hand-applied onto a printing surface and transferred using a press or by hand rubbing
  • Electronic or digital - Images from computer programs, photocopying, or computer printing)

Objective (realistic) painters may:

  • Travel to observe and paint specific subjects on location (such as people, landscapes, buildings, wildlife)
  • Work from photographs
  • Work with models, still life, animals or flowers
  • Work from memory

Non-objective (abstract) painters create their own subjects and designs.

Many painters and printmakers are constantly learning new techniques and experimenting with different materials and media. They need to keep up to date with what is going on in the art world by reading, attending exhibits at art galleries and residency programs, and talking to other artists.

Working Conditions
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Working conditions, such as hours of work, vary considerably for painters and printmakers. Printmaking and moving large paintings can be physically demanding. Some techniques involve working with hazardous pigments, chemicals or solvents.

Studios may be clean, spacious and well ventilated, or they may have less-than-ideal working conditions. Many painters or printmakers work at home, while others rent space in artist-run centres, warehouses or storefronts in low-rent districts.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing information to create visual representations of objects, pictures, scenes, abstract designs and similar original compositions; and in employing various media and techniques


Interest in precision working with pastels, water colours, charcoal, ink and other media


Interest in using established methods and techniques to develop creative expressions; and in finishing works of art with protective coatings

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated May 19, 2021

Painters and printmakers need:

  • Artistic talent and creativity
  • Motivation, self-discipline and determination
  • Self-promotion and marketing skills
  • Time management skills
  • Technical skills

They should enjoy working independently.

Educational Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Minimum Education Varies

Although there are no formal education requirements for painters and printmakers, many galleries prefer to feature artists who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in fine arts. They also must have a portfolio of work that includes samples or good quality representations of their best work.

In addition to artistic skills and knowledge of form, line, colour, composition and balance, painters and printmakers need technical knowledge about materials. They must know about painting or printing processes, and related use of solvents, acids and inks. Knowledge of safety issues is critical, as is training in the proper use of materials and equipment (for example, presses).

Increasingly, it is important for both painters and printmakers to have business skills, particularly marketing skills. Art conservation knowledge and photography, mounting and framing skills are definite assets. The ability to photograph and post online portfolios is a key component of working with and marketing to galleries and clients remotely.

Many colleges and universities offer training in fine arts and visual communication. Prospective students should look for the schools with a blend of technical and creative course materials for their particular interests.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 19, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 19, 2021

Few painters or printmakers can support themselves from sales commissions on their art work alone. Many also work full time or part time in related occupations, such as illustrator, designer, art teacher, gallery assistant, framer or arts administrator. For more information see the Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Art Instructor occupational profiles.

Painters and printmakers may display their art in:

  • Galleries and museums
  • Restaurants and clubs
  • Office buildings and public spaces
  • Parks, exhibit grounds and international expositions

They also may market their work electronically through television or the internet.

Artists’ works may be published as fine art poster prints. Publishers may pay a royalty per print sold or simply purchase the copyright for the work.

Emerging artists often join art clubs for support, networking and exhibition opportunities. They may enter art competitions or festivals, or arrange their own shows in homes or artist-run centres.

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts offer grants to promising artists to enable them to study and work for a few months or a year at a time. The Foundation buys the art of emerging and established artists with the intent of maintaining a diverse cross-section of Alberta art and the Canada Council purchases work for the Art Bank.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists occupational group, 82.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5136: Painters, sculptors and other visual artists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.7% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 48 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated May 19, 2021

Art prices vary considerably depending on the artist’s reputation, size of the piece and availability of the artist’s work (in the case of printmaking, the number of imprints made is also a factor). Most galleries charge a commission ranging from 40% to 75% of the price of a sale.

Many painters and printmakers earn a minimal income from their art. They work in other occupations to earn a living and practice their art in their free time.

Some painters receive commissions or fees paid in advance that allow them to buy materials and cover some living expenses while they finish a site-specific or major work. Well-established painters and printmakers may hire agents or work with exclusive dealers who handle marketing, bookkeeping and sales.

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 19, 2021

Alberta Foundation for the Arts website:

Alberta Society of Artists website:

Calgary Sketch Club website:

Canada Council for the Arts website:

Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens (CARFAC) website:

CARFAC Alberta website:

Federation of Canadian Artists website:

Society of Northern Alberta Print-Artists (SNAP) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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