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Painter or Printmaker

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

  • Avg. Salary $51,755.00
  • Avg. Wage $27.52
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 1,900
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Artisan, Artist, Graphic Artist, Printmaker

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Painter or Printmaker is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 5136.1

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

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 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 More

Updated Mar 15, 2016

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

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

  • paint with a variety of media (for example, water colours, acrylics, oils, tempera, gouache, encaustic)
  • create drawings using a variety of media (for example, charcoal, chalk, graphite, coloured pencils, inks, pastels)
  • glue or laminate various materials to a surface to create an image
  • specialize in particular types of media or mixed media.

Printmakers create surfaces which are then used to print a limited number of the same image on other materials (for example, paper, fabric). A variety of methods may be used to create images and transfer them to other surfaces including:

  • 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 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 uses screens, a work support and hand held squeegees
  • monotype - single images are created on a printing surface by hand painting and printed on a press or by hand rubbing
  • electronic or digital - computer paint and photo programs, and photocopying or computer printing.

Objective (realistic) painters may:

  • travel to paint specific subjects (for example, people, landscapes, buildings, wildlife)
  • work from photographs
  • work with models, still life, animals or flowers.

Nonobjective (abstract) painters create their own subjects and designs.

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

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 15, 2016

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 chemicals.

Studios may be clean and well ventilated, or they may have less than ideal working conditions. Many artists work at home; others rent space in artist-run centres, warehouses or store-fronts in low rent districts.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 15, 2016

Painters and printmakers need the following characteristics:

  • the motivation, self-discipline and determination required to work productively alone 
  • self-promotion and marketing skills
  • artistic talent and creativity
  • technical ability.

They should enjoy working independently.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 15, 2016

Although there are no formal education requirements for painters and printmakers, many galleries prefer to feature artists who have a Bachelor's or Masters 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, composition and balance, painters and printmakers need technical knowledge about materials. They must be knowledgeable about printing, solvents, acids and inks. Knowledge of safety issues is critical, as is training in the 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.

There are a number of college and university programs that offer training in fine art and visual communications. Prospective students should look for the schools that have the best blend of technical and creative course materials for their particular interests.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grant MacEwan University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 15, 2016

Few painters can support themselves from commissions on their art work alone. Many also work full time or part time in related occupations such as illustrator, designer, teacher (art classes), 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 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.

Painters and printmakers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5136: Painters, Sculptors and Other Visual Artists. In Alberta, 76% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 15, 2016

Art prices vary considerably depending on the artist's reputation, size of the piece and availability of the artist's work. 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.

Painters, sculptors and other visual artists
NOC code: 5136

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $0.00 $0.00 $24.63 $25.96
Overall $0.00 $0.00 $27.52 $29.20
Top $0.00 $0.00 $32.72 $35.47

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

D: Lowest Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lowest Reliability, represents a CV of more than 33.00% and/or if fewer than 10 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 25% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
    • Visual Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Design Studies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Fine Arts and Performing Arts
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 15, 2016

Alberta Foundation for the Arts website:

Alberta Society of Artists website:

Calgary Sketch Club website:

Canada Council for the Arts website:

Canadian Artist's Representation/Le Front des Artistes Canadiens website:

Federation of Canadian Artists website:

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

Visual Arts Alberta Association website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 24, 2015. 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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