Do Artists Make a Living at their art? The short answer is, not many of them. A new study is delving into how many do and how. You can participate and sign the pledge to support artists by going here.
How are artists compensated? Is it possible to live from making art? Are artists paid fairly?
The latest research into artist income, conducted by the artist information company, shows that more than 72% of visual artists earn less than £10,000 / $13,000 per year from their art practice. [this includes me]
The art market is changing
As all the major industry reports show, year on year the online art market continues to grow, while the market as a whole slows. According to the latest Hiscox report, in 2016 the online art market grew 15% percent to $3.75bn, making it an 8.4% share in the market as a whole. Comparatively, the art market as a whole grew just 1.7% in 2016 (Source: TEFAF).
But what does the online art market look like from the inside? A large proportion of it is dominated by the high end, by the so-called ‘bricks and clicks’ players finally embracing online.
However, that isn’t the whole picture. There is a new independent artist market emerging too, a market which gives independent artists a greater voice, and that voice will only be stronger if we speak together.
We’ve started by reporting on our own our own artist and buyer data to shine a light on the new ecosystem we’ve seen evolving over the last three years.
It’s nearly impossible to “make a living” as an artist unless you have students or teach or do workshops. The other way is to luck out and be represented by a gallery that does high sales and is devoted to you. For most people, that’s not attainable.
Most artists don’t teach because we are artists, not teachers. If I wanted to be a teacher I would have taken teaching classes. Instead I took art courses, which I never meant to commit me to a life of poverty. However, art lovers and art collectors can make a difference by doing one important thing to support real artists: Stop buying from galleries! Buy art directly from the artist.
Like health insurance companies. galleries are “middle men”. They suck profits from the artists, (usually around 50% of a painting price) so artists are forced to raise their prices substantially. That means art collectors pay the gallery for half the cost of a painting, and the artist gets the misery of splitting their profit for their work for a totally unnecessary intermediary.
What’s the point of that? Galleries do the promotion and give other benefits to the artist, including the wall to hang the art on. Art Shows do the same thing, but we don’t give art show organizers 50% of our profits. Usually it’s more like 20-30%. And with social media and websites, artists can often do a lot of their own promotion. The best deal for the artist and for the buyer is to view and buy the art online directly from the artist.
You can do this via this website, or that of any artist. You can also do that from my new art website opening in January 2018. Buying art directly from the artist benefits everyone involved the most. My new site, Fine Art South, is an online art gallery of my work that will enable you to buy directly from me, the artist. You can still donate to your favorite art organization if you want, but you don’t need to waste money on galleries and their exorbitant overhead costs anymore. Most artists have websites and I encourage everyone to contact artists directly through their web presence and buy art direct from the artist.