Just One Third of an Artist’s Income Comes From Their Art, New Study Finds
Artists earn only £6,020 on average from their practice, with many working multiple additional jobs to supplement their income
Only one third of the income earned by visual artists is derived from their art, a new study has found. Figures from Arts Council England’s Livelihoods of Visual Artists data study have revealed that artists earn an average of GBP£16,150 each year, but only GBP£6,020 (36%) comes from their own art practice. Two thirds of artists earned less than GBP£5,000 from their art. Barriers to sustaining a financially successful career include lack of opportunities, cost of materials and studio space, and a lack of access to funding.
According to the research, 68% of artists are said to work additional jobs to financially sustain themselves, while 20% worked 3 or more jobs. Reasons for having additional jobs included supplementing their income, the benefits of formal employment, and professional development, with 43% of them working in an art-related job – the most frequent being in the educational sector, with lecturers, teachers and learning staff accounting for 62%.
The research also shows that there is a ‘significant’ gender pay gap. Women earn GBP£2,410 less than men from their practice, despite men making up only 28% of total visual artists. When identifying challenges, more women expressed a ‘lack of time for art practice due to other pressures and responsibilities.’
A report commissioned by the Freelands Foundation last year also highlighted a significant gender disparity, specifically in London’s art world, with female artists ‘still under-represented in the art world in 2017 despite outnumbering men studying in art school.’ The report also found that only 28% of artists represented by major art galleries were women. Both reports suggest that there are more challenges faced by both early-career and mid-career women artists than male artists to achieve ‘establishment’ and financial and professional stability.