A study on the financial state of visual artists today
For visual artists today, the path to financial stability is neither straight nor predictable. When faced with the question of whether to seek out gallery representation, attempt to sell art on their own, or keep a day job while hustling to make art on the side, many emerging visual artists have no firm guide posts to look to on their journey.
Because The Creative Independent's aim is to be a resource for creative people, we decided to try and create something that could openly document how today’s artists are managing to make a living. In summer of 2018, I led a project to survey visual artists on their financial status, business practices, and overall experiences working within the art world.
After collecting responses from 1,016 artists and cross-analyzing the data, we released a comprehensive report sharing key takeaways. The findings from the report are nuanced. For example, while about 60% of responding artists said they were earning less than half as much as the average American household, about half of respondents felt optimistic that they’d be able to become financially stable down the road. The data also demonstrates that for most artists, it’s not realistic to expect to make a significant amount of money through art sales (nearly two thirds of artists are supporting themselves through freelance work, while only 12% listed gallery sales as an important means of support). Additionally, three quarters of artists said they’d been learning to become financially stable through trial-and-error, compared to just 6% who’d taken a financial planning class or worked with a financial advisor. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Read a note introducing the project by artist Yumna Al-Arashi (who we collaborated with to release the survey) here.
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