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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

Caption: Artist studio: Courtesy: Pxhere

Caption: Artist studio: Courtesy: Pxhere

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.

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