Artists: Where do they work? How much do they work? What do they earn?
The ArtSlant Team ran some analyses of these issues using the 2006-2008 PUMS microdata sample from the US Census 2006-2008 and 2005-2010 American Community Survey (ACS). These statistics apply only to conditions within the USA. While the results are not surprising, there are some interesting things to note.
ARTISTS LOCATION IN USA BY STATE
In terms of location, artists in the USA are congregating in the largest US centers of California (Los Angeles and San Francisco), New York (New York, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens), Texas (Dallas, Austin, Houston) and Florida (Miami). Secondary locations are Illinois (Chicago) and Pennsylvania (Pittsburg), followed closely by the states of Colorado, Georgia, Massachusettes, Michigan, New Jersey and Washington.
Obviously, factors such as employment opportunities and the standard of living in given areas contribute towards these stats. Also, the number and caliber of art schools, art institutions and galleries are determining these decisions. In terms of overall US demographics, the surprising location is Miami, which is ranking higher as a place for artists to live than national standards.
BREAKDOWN OF FULL AND PART-TIME EMPLOYMENT
In looking at the breakdown between male and female artists and designers, and the kind of employment each group is engaged with, it is obvious that males far outweigh females in terms of full-time employment.
TYPE OF EMPLOYMENT
This graph shows where artists are working. The categories are:
- Employees of private for-profit companies
- Employees of private not-for-profit companies
- Government employees
- Self-employed, not an incorporated business
- Self-employed, an incorporated business
- Working without pay in a family business
Long story short - artists are either working for themselves or they are working for private companies. By far, the majority are supporting themselves as freelancers, so the need for business acumen is great. We predict that the Internet will continue to provide greater and more varied opportunities for self-employment for artists, which will increase the the number of producers (artists) who are trying to support themselves, as well as the audience participating in the commercial side of the art world. The challenge, as always, will be to maximize time for making art while increasing business and marketing skills so as to grow a business.
BREAKDOWN OF EARNINGS
Artists in the USA are not making a lot of money. In terms of statistical reporting from 2006-2008, the vast majority report earnings under $60,000 per year and a huge percentage of that group are making less than $30,000 per year. In looking at the contributing factors for this, several possibilities come to mind: Perhaps there is very little market for art and the profit margin on the production of unique pieces is very low. Or it could be that the systems for selling art do not adequately compensate or support artists financially. Or maybe artists simply do not focus on making money so the low earnings actually reflect a lifestyle choice. Or, finally, could the fact that the majority of artists are self-employed contribute to these low earnings? Is it the case that the market could expand for financial compensation if artists became better at running their own businesses?
Each artist will have to address these questions themselves in their search for career development.