The Arts

As the population of the Jacksonville region expands, so do the occupations that support the growth of the area. Northeast Florida continues to grow its cultural attractions and none are more important than the arts. The Northeast Florida area offers a variety of arts jobs including Art Teacher, Music Teacher, Furniture Designer, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Videographer, Video Editor, 3D Artist, Animator, Interior Designer, Writer, Painter and Musician.

Industry Report

Arts jobs bring a distinct cultural flair, generate a sense of well-being, and inspire intellectual and personal reflection. The arts unite people by way of provoking their senses, reflecting times of cultural change, and capturing common stories that make us human. Arts jobs allow those in this Career Pathway to express their unique talents to engage their communities and provide tremendous added value to those within them.

In addition to art jobs with great companies in the Jacksonville area, there is a great opportunity to start your own business. The region provides a strong, supportive environment for artistic entrepreneurs and the community has an inviting culture for those looking to make their passion their profession. You can review the Arts Career Pathway to see what options are available and where you can take your career.

It is also important to recognize the career choices that are available for artists in the Jacksonville area school system. The need for the arts in school has never been lost on the educators in Northeast Florida and therefore provide a chance to serve future generations with teaching on painting, music, drama, dancing, drawing, writing and more. For those looking to fill those roles, please check with your local school districts.

Make sure to review the Arts Career Pathway to learn more about what you can do to prepare for a fulfilling career with the creative class. The Jacksonville region needs artists and wants you to be part of our community.

Art Companies in the Region

Leah Crawford

CTE Teacher - Commercial Art, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

Leah Crawford did not start her career teaching, but she always knew that’s what she wanted to do.

Crawford is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher - Commercial Art at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology, a public magnet career and college preparatory high school in Jacksonville.

A Jacksonville native, Crawford graduated from Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in 2011 and from Flagler College with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design in 2015. After graduation, she moved to Orlando for her first professional job but returned to Jacksonville after a year. Crawford spent more than five years working in the design industry in a variety of environments including agency and business settings. She began teaching at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology in September 2020.

“I always thought I would end up working in education although I didn’t think it would happen this early in my career – but I love it,” Crawford said.

Crawford teaches Commercial Art Technology in the Communications Academy, preparing students for careers in the creative industry after high school or college. The Communications Academy also offers programs in Television Production and Digital Information Technology/IT.

A self-described “art kid,” Crawford had a passion for art and knew early on she wanted to study design. Her transition to teaching occurred in part because she maintained relationships with many of her former teachers.

“I had many key educators – in elementary, high school and college,” Crawford said. “They all left an impression on me. I knew one day I would love to emulate that energy in a classroom setting.”

One of her mentors is Michael Fuller, now retired but who had been Crawford’s commercial art teacher at the Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology. Fuller contacted Crawford when a teaching vacancy became available.

“I wasn’t looking for a change, but when it was put in front of me, I knew I needed to jump at the opportunity,” Crawford said.

As an educator, Crawford draws on her professional design experience combined with her passion for creative problem solving. For the transition to teaching, Crawford earned her teaching certificate and Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop certifications. Crawford enjoys working with students.

“Being an educator isn’t just showing up to a classroom,” Crawford said. “I’m excited to help launch students into their careers.”

Students at the Academy earn industry certifications and regularly receive on-the-job training through internships. Crawford’s students work on a variety of real-world projects. In April, they will design marketing materials to promote the Healing Hearts Project’s fun run. This project also provides an opportunity for the academy to support a non-profit organization.

“Skills with Adobe products are guaranteed to give a leg up when pursuing a career at any point in time because of the early exposure that was provided,” said student Dante Pierre. “When you're exposed early to these kinds of professional programs, you develop a skillset that never truly becomes obsolete.”

Many of Crawford’s students value the Academy’s programs.

“I believe this Academy is helping my school life improve overall,” said student Danielle Wilson. “I'm learning things about websites, programs, editing and design, and I'm learning concepts that allow my school work to look nicer and my creativity to flow.”

Josué Cruz

Director of Development, Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville

Josué Cruz is an artist and Intercultural communicator whose passion is bridging the gap between creativity and performance.

The longtime artist and entertainer has worked in the arts for several years as a performer and a facilitator. Cruz is Owner and Managing Partner of LPT Salsa, LLC, a 10-piece salsa music orchestra, and the Director of Development for the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. which enriches the arts through its support to cultural organizations, individual artists and the Public Art Program. He also contributes to numerous publications as a freelance writer.

“I always had an attraction for the arts but I never thought it would be my career path until my later high school years,” said Cruz, who moved to Jacksonville from South Florida in 2011.

Cruz recognized his interest in creative writing after winning a poetry writing contest as a middle school student. His love for performing emerged as a teenager and continues today. Cruz is lead vocalist for LPT, a group that performs locally as well as across the globe. One of his most memorable performances took place in a small Australian town that didn’t offer many live music performances.

“It’s very rewarding to perform in places that are absent of art and experience how important art is to that community,” Cruz said.

He is a connoisseur of all fine art forms spanning from opera to rap, poetry, romantic landscapes and neo-classical imagery. Cruz’s enthusiasm for facilitating the growth and success of artists is equally strong. As Director of Development, Cruz is responsible for planning, organizing, directing, and facilitating the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s fundraising needs. These include individual, foundation, and corporate sponsorships, establishing major gifts and planned giving programs, and grant-writing.

“It all comes down to the impact you can have going forward,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s career began as a Language Arts/Creative Writing teacher and evolved with a wide variety of cultural, educational and leadership positions.

“I love learning about a project and helping people turn their dreams into realistic, attainable goals,” he said.

For success, artists must possess the skills of their craft, whether it is writing, music or the visual arts. Other skills come into play including perseverance, organization and communication skills. Cruz believes an artist’s success is a result of having adaptability and humility. Rather than follow a narrow path, be multi-dimensional and learn as much as you can about everything.

“You never know when a piece of knowledge is going to open a door,” Cruz said.

An entrepreneur at heart, Cruz says his enterprising spirit has helped him navigate a career in the arts.

“You have to understand the business of art in order to make a sustainable living and have a positive economic impact on your life,” Cruz said.

Grant funding though the Cultural Council and other organizations is available. Cruz said it is vital for artists to do their research before applying and be prepared to demonstrate their capabilities in the application and reports.

Most importantly, Cruz said understand what opportunities you are willing to pursue.

“Recognize that line you won’t cross,” Cruz said. “A successful artist knows his or her values.”

Andrea Barnwell Brownlee

CEO of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

As a youth growing up in Alexandria, Va., Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., describes the Smithsonian museums as her playground for exploration, discovery and fun. Those game changing experiences provided the initial spark that began her career pathway.

“It was a real privilege to have access to the ultimate field trip destination,” said Brownlee, the George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs director and chief executive officer of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. Brownlee leads a “phenomenal group of professionals” with a focus on the institution’s strategic vision, donor engagement and funding.
“My days are very rich and full, and I love every moment,” Brownlee said.

An art historian, curator, educator and writer, Brownlee is a graduate of Spelman College (B.A., English and Art History) and Duke University (Ph.D., Art History). While at Duke, she realized she would have to decide whether her career would lead to academia or institutions. While contemplating her future, she avoided limitations.
“One of the most impactful pieces of advice I received was to ‘cast a wide net,’” said Brownlee.

The recommendation came from Dr. Richard Powell, a mentor and her Art History professor/graduate school advisor at Duke.

“There were many opportunities and I was trying to determine what I wanted to do,” Brownlee said. “He encouraged me to apply for everything that might be of interest.”
Brownlee’s path led to The Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, where she flourished as a MacArthur Curatorial Fellow.

Prior to joining the Cummer Museum in 2020, Brownlee served as director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art for nearly 20 years. Her duties included engaging directly with artists and learning what drives them. At Spelman, she guided the Spelman College Curatorial Studies Program and expanded her efforts to educate the next generation of museum professionals by assuming a dual role as senior strategist for the Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective. During her tenure, she flourished as an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute and received numerous awards including the David C. Driskell Prize in African American Art and Art History.
“The responsibilities were vastly different but extraordinarily rewarding,” Brownlee said. “I discovered that I had multiple sparks and opportunities to combine them. The experience was so rich for me.”

Other accomplishments, which are detailed on her Wikipedia page, include writing four books on artists.

“I did not intend to be an author, yet one experience built upon another,” Brownlee said. “There were unbelievable, intoxicating opportunities that allowed me to evolve as a writer and editor.”

Brownlee’s work has historically focused on the promotion of female African-American artists. Mentors, including Dr. Powell, Dr. Driskell and her kindergarten teacher, Margarette Peterson, have guided her career.

Brownlee’s success reflects her spirit of collaboration and effective written and verbal communication skills. Critical thinking – being able to synthesize ideas and break them into manageable parts – is vital to achieve goals.

A self-described lifelong learner, taking an improvisational class is on Brownlee’s future wish list.

“In an improv class, you explore the skills to be effective, think outside of the typical box and deliver,” Brownlee said. “I would love to have those skills in my arsenal.”

Brownlee’s love of learning, unique talents and abilities, and her inclusive approach to teamwork have allowed her to create and enjoy a rewarding career pathway in the Arts.