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Your art major might lead to a job after all, one graduate says

Students, faculty and community members attend the opening reception for the
student art exhibit Feb. 24 in the Tanner Atrium. (Cat Taylor)

Westminster College offers many art classes including painting, photography, art history and more. Students in-and-out of art majors can enjoy the benefits of taking these classes. 

For some students, art will become their sole focus. 

For Adam Tarr, a 2019 graduate from Westminster, art is an important part of his life. After graduating from Westminster with a focus in painting and drawing, Tarr now works on graphic design for multiple companies. 

Tarr’s biggest client is a CBD company based out of the midwest that focuses on making products for consumers and pets. 

Before graduating, Tarr was hired to do live art at concert venues around Salt Lake City. These venues include Soundwell, The Block and Club X.

These live paintings presented a unique opportunity for Tarr to make money while networking outside of Westminster before graduating. He has since been added to a list to be frequently contacted by venues to paint during performances. 

Tarr said taking on ethically-balanced and environmentally-conscious clients is important to his work. Tarr said he hopes to only work for companies that are engaging their communities in a positive way and don’t create a negative effect on the environment. 

Although this may limit the number of people he can work for, Tarr said he believes this is an important selling point in getting new clients. From his perspective, the companies he would want to work for are the ones that pay attention to his values. 

Tarr recommends that students thinking about graduation should start taking the steps to create a smooth transition into the world outside of school. He said this was really helpful in managing his stress levels nearing his graduation date and envisioning what the future would look like.

Tarr said he was surprised a liberal arts college like Westminster had no graphic design specific major. For communication students, they take graphic design classes but also spend time in other disciplines such as journalism, public relations and organizational communication. 

Tarr said he thinks students may miss out on the opportunity to spend the adequate amount of time in design to become a graphic design professional because of that. 

On the other side, he said those studying art at Westminster aren’t required to take digital art requirements. For Tarr, it only made sense that in a world becoming more technologically advanced, art would shift in that direction as well. 

The art major is stereotypically known as a major that doesn’t lead to high-paying jobs. However, Tarr said that’s not always the case. Just like every other major, art presents its own unique and promising career paths in many fields. 

The Forum sat down to ask Adam Tarr some questions about his career now and the unique opportunities he’s gotten within the art world. 

Answers have been slightly changed for clarity and conciseness. 

Q: How has life after school been for you so far?

A: Pretty much taking my drawing and painting I went straight to painting for live music events. So I started setting up a booth and having a painting that I worked on live while the artist played and that was kind of my first introduction into what art could be like as a business. 

That kind of fueled my desire to start doing graphic design and working from home, working for myself.

Q: How did you go about getting those gigs for the live art shows?

A: At first it was word of mouth and then after I did one or two of them I developed a good connection with the event promoter or the owner of the club or the venue, wherever it was going to be held.

Then I just got put on a list essentially so every time there was an event I would be asked to paint. 

Q: What artists have you done that for?

A: I’ve done that for, let’s see, a bunch of different ones. CharlesTheFirst, The Funk Hunters, Desert Dwellers, artists like that. Almost too many to name at this point. It’s always been a good time.

Q: What are the venues you’ve done that at in Salt Lake?

A: So that was at Soundwell, Club X, and then some smaller venues, like The Block and places like that. 

Q: For kids who are closer to graduation, especially kids with an art major, what kind of advice would you give to them prior to graduation?

A: Prior to graduation I would just say try to focus as much as you can on doing the things that will set you up to have a smooth transition. That’s essentially what I did right about when I had a half a year left. 

I wish I had started sooner but I ended up setting up direct studies that were going to correlate specifically to graphic design and that was probably the best thing I could have done. It gave me a portfolio to present and really set me up for a smooth transition.

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Riley Levine
Riley Levine is a fourth-year student at Westminster College majoring in communication with a minor in art. Riley is interested in the visual arts and hopes to find a career in film or graphic design. In his free time, Riley enjoys skiing, hiking and camping with friends and family.

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