AVON PARK, Fla.–Oct. 16, 2015–A Landscape architect, sculptor, photographer, and artists of other genres all came home last week to South Florida State College to exhibit their work and talk about their careers in art.

In all, eight SFSC alumni gathered at an evening program on the college’s Highlands Campus to launch the exhibition and talk about art education and the success they have found in doing art.

The exhibition, “Coming Home 2015,” marks SFSC’s third showing of works produced by artists who finished the two-year program before embarking on art careers and is part of SFSC’s 50th anniversary celebration. The exhibition opened Oct. 7 and runs through Dec. 2.

With the job market coming under increasing pressure from global competition, many college students glance over careers in art, focusing instead a technical or professional path to a job.

Max Gooding, a 2009 graduate of SFSC’s fine arts program, showed that a career in art pays. While at SFSC he studied drawing, watercolor painting, and illustration.

“I always wanted to know where my next meal was coming from,” said Gooding, 27, a red-head with matching beard who attended Lake Placid High School. “So, making money from my art was always a priority for me.”

Using his grounding in drawing and painting at SFSC as a springboard, Gooding went on to the University of Florida, where he studied landscape architecture. He now owns his own consulting company in Naples, Fla, where he combines the illustrative drawing and painting he learned at SFSC with landscape architecture, earning a clientele that includes builders of luxury homes and real estate developers.

“My company gives me financially security so now I can experiment with my own drawing when I am not collaborating with my clients on their projects,” Gooding said.

Artists need not only strike out on their own for success. Museums, higher education, and the nonprofit sector offer career opportunities for artists.

Whitney Broadaway, a Sebring High School graduate, completed her first two years of college at SFSC in 2007. She studied under veteran art professor Cathy Futral and Mollie Doctrow, the curator of college’s Museum of Florida Art and Culture, who also teaches illustration.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of Central Florida, Broadaway took a job at the university’s library restoring books, a skill she developed learning how to bind books for art projects. She recently landed the post of collections manager at the Orange County Regional History Center, where she serves the caretaker its artworks and exhibits.

Like Gooding, Broadaway relishes the opportunity to keep one foot in day-to-day artistic business while using her spare time to produce her own art. When not overseeing the center’s collection, Broadaway shows her own etchings at exhibitions and art festivals across central Florida.

“I hope there are current students here tonight,” Broadaway told the audience who had assembled for the program in SFSC’s University Center Auditorium. “Being an artist is really hard, but if you never stop making art, you can make it happen and succeed in your career.”

The alumni exhibition, which is on display at the Museum of Florida Art and Culture, features paintings, sculptures, digital media, and drawings. After the artists wrapped up their discussion, more than 100 visitors paced through MOFAC’s gallery to view the exhibits and meet the artists.

Students in SFSC art classes study pottery, drawing, painting, and art history. One recent SFSC graduate joined the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, others teach or work solo producing art for sale.

“What is most gratifying is to see these students coming back to SFSC and showing they built successful careers in art,” said Doctrow, who has overseen MOFAC’s collection since 2005.

“My hope is that our current students will learn from our alumni that they too can achieve success doing art,” said Doctrow.