All You Need To Know About Being An Artist

You think about becoming an artist but are not sure whether this career is the right way to go for you or not?

Great! Stick with me since I will show you all you need to know about being an artist in the following chapters.

Not only will I show you how much you can make as an artist, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, working hours, legal issues and much more.

Hence, after reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what working as an artist really looks like and can decide for yourself whether you still want to aspire to an artist career or if you want to do something else instead.

Enough talk, let’s get right into it! ūüėČ

Table of Contents

What does an Artist do?

There are many different types of artists out there. While many people who work as artists paint pictures, others make more abstract art. Some of them also produce virtual art.

Thus, your field of work can vary quite a bit depending on the type of artist you want to be.

Duties of an Artist

  • Painting pictures
  • Creation of virtual art
  • Use of our modern technologies to take art a step further
  • Sketching out ideas
  • Original ideas are key to succeed as an artist in the long run
  • Communication with clients
  • Improvement of knowledge and expertise
  • Organizing your time well
  • Estimation of timelines
  • Estimation of costs for clients
  • Acquisition of new clients
  • Building a personal brand
  • Advertise your work on social media and other digital channels
  • Selling your work
  • Meeting up with other artists in your field
  • Ordering equipment needed to perform art
  • Organizational and legal tasks if you work as a self-employed artist

What a Typical Day of an Artist looks like?

Artists are often quite exotic personalities. Hence, while some artists get up in the early morning at around 5 a.m., others will not get up before lunchtime.

Also the way artists structure their workday varies quite a bit. While some artists are pretty organized and want to structure their day at first, others just jump right into the actual work without having a look at their timetable at all.

However, what artists have in common is that they are pretty free regarding how they want to spend their workday.

Since most artists work self-employed, they will be free to do what they want to do without having to care about the commands of a boss as in many other jobs.

Consequently, your workday as an artist can be quite relaxed as long as you are able to acquire enough new jobs and your clients are also satisfied with your work.

In such a case, you will often not have to work many hours and can still make a decent living from what you are doing without having to deal with all the stress that comes along in classical office jobs.

Artist Salary 2021

Artist salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $95,000> $46.88
Top 25 %$73,000 – $84,000$36.19 – $41.59
Bottom 25 %$39,000 – $42,000$19.18 – $20.64
Bottom 10 %$18,000 – $27,000$8.43 – $13.18
Range$18,000 – $235,000$8.43 – $116.82
Average$53,000$26.21

Artist salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$18,000 – $23,000$8.43 – $11.32
Junior$27,000 – $43,000$13.31 – $21.42
Professional$38,000 – $56,000$18.62 – $27.81
Senior Professional$45,000 – $64,000$22.34 – $31.71
Expert$58,000 – $76,000$28.45 – $37.31
Top Expert$84,000 – $235,000$41.82 – $116.82

Artist salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$48,200$23.67
Alaska$46,400$22.94
Arizona$53,200$26.34
Arkansas$51,700$25.52
California$62,700$30.79
Colorado$57,100$28.19
Connecticut$49,800$24.49
Delaware$51,200$25.18
District of Columbia$59,300$29.42
Florida$61,700$30.28
Georgia$48,200$23.92
Guam$49,400$24.42
Hawaii$56,800$27.62
Idaho$47,600$23.41
Illinois$49,200$24.39
Indiana$51,900$25.29
Iowa$52,300$25.61
Kansas$48,800$24.02
Kentucky$47,900$23.61
Louisiana$49,200$24.39
Maine$51,100$25.34
Maryland$61,800$30.52
Massachusetts$62,400$30.86
Michigan$49,100$24.41
Minnesota$52,400$25.76
Mississippi$48,300$23.89
Missouri$47,700$23.41
Montana$49,200$24.39
Nebraska$41,700$20.48
Nevada$52,600$25.91
New Hampshire$48,400$24.02
New Jersey$51,700$25.21
New Mexico$48,100$23.81
New York$67,800$33.39
North Carolina$49,200$24.37
North Dakota$51,600$25.41
Ohio$51,800$25.63
Oklahoma$57,200$28.49
Oregon$52,400$26.03
Pennsylvania$56,700$28.21
Rhode Island$48,500$23.86
South Carolina$48,200$23.63
South Dakota$52,100$25.71
Tennessee$51,800$25.39
Texas$52,900$26.23
Utah$51,300$25.38
Vermont$47,600$23.51
Virginia$49,300$24.56
Washington$64,900$32.26
West Virginia$49,800$24.41
Wisconsin$51,200$25.43
Wyoming$48,800$24.08

Job Security for Artists

Since artists mostly work self-employed, they will have barely any job security at all.

In fact, most artists struggle to find enough jobs to make a living from what they are doing and in case you don’t find enough jobs to work on, chances are that you may need a second job to pay your bills.

Future Job Prospects for Artists

Job prospects for artists are rather poor, not only now but also in the future.

Due to artificial intelligence and machine learning, lots of work that is currently done by artists will be carried out by machines in the near future and you will only be able to succeed as an artist a few years from now if you are really able to build a personal brand that people want to support.

Working Hours of Artists

While some artists love their jobs and work all day (and sometimes night) long, others have a much more relaxed attitude towards their job.

Since you will mostly work self-employed as an artist, it is on you to decide how many hours you want to work.

However, if you want to make a living from what you are doing, you should be willing to work at least 40 hours per week.

Job Satisfaction of Artists

Many people who work in this field really love what they are doing. In fact, job satisfaction is pretty high among successful artists.

However, please note that many artists are still not able to make a full-time income and need a second job, which causes additional stress and may lower their overall job satisfaction quite a lot.

Promotion Opportunities of Artists

Since you will work self-employed, you will also have almost no promotion opportunities as an artist.

Instead, you can give yourself a raise in case you acquire well-paying jobs but you will not get promotions in an official manner as you do when working as an employee.

Career Levels of Artists

  • Artist intern
  • Junior artist
  • Senior artist
  • Artist who develops high-quality original work
  • Artist that shapes the way we think about art
  • Artist who has a big impact on society
  • Head of an artist organization

Fields and Types of Artists

  • Painting artist
  • Digital artist
  • Musician
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Printer
  • Graphic designer
  • Photographer
  • Illustrator
  • Hobby artists

Educational Requirements for Artists

There are no special educational requirements for artists. You don’t need a fancy degree or other forms of schooling, even though it may help to get some credibility in this field.

What’s much more important is your talent and your passion for art.

How to become an Artist

  1. Inform yourself whether you really want to become an artist
  2. Get an internship in this field
  3. Meet up with other artists
  4. Stay in touch with renowned artists
  5. Discuss your ideas and share your knowledge
  6. Develop a personal brand
  7. Start a digital channel
  8. Gain in popularity
  9. Speak at artist conferences
  10. Promote your work as best as possible
  11. Have a long breath and never give up

Character Traits you need for Working as an Artist

  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • You need a strong mental mindset
  • You have to deal with lots of insecurity
  • Willingness to work hard
  • You have to get out of your comfort zone
  • You need to become an outgoing person
  • Healthy level of self-criticism helps to become better in the long run
  • You should be open to new ideas
  • Passion for art is what keeps you in this game in the long run

Hard Skills for Being an Artist

  • Talent for the type of art you are doing
  • You have to track your results
  • Analyzing data becomes increasingly important
  • Recognizing trends in the art market
  • Figuring out what types of art will have a bright future
  • You always have to develop new skills to stay competitive in the long run
  • Digital skills are crucial to sell and promote your work
  • Credentials from renowned art schools may help
  • You always have to reinvent yourself

Soft Skills for Being an Artist

  • You have to stay cool under pressure
  • Dealing with a high level of insecurity is key to success
  • You need to develop excellent communication skills to deal with difficult clients
  • You have to listen to your clients closely
  • Good people skills let you succeed in the long run
  • Building a strong brand is key
  • You need to understand how to communicate to the world
  • You need to build a strong network of other artists
  • Contact to mentors can help you overcome difficult periods
  • You need to stay positive
  • You need passion and excitement for what you are doing

Exit Options for Artists

Artists have pretty poor exit options. Since they often don’t have a degree, it is pretty hard for artists to get out of this industry.

Hence, before becoming an artist, make sure that this is really what you want to do for the rest of your life to avoid any issues in this regard.

Artist – Similar Careers

  • Painter
  • Art teacher
  • Fashion designer
  • Graphic designer
  • Tattoo artist
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Musician
  • Textile designer
  • Animator
  • Illustrator
  • Interior designer
  • Art director
  • Drafter

Artist Career FAQs

Is working as an artist physically demanding?

A career as an artist is not physically demanding most of the time. While other people who work in construction or as welders will have to lift heavy things all day long, you will rather have a relaxed time in this regard since a pencil will be enough to carry out your work most of the time.

Is working as an artist mentally demanding?

Working as an artist can be mentally and emotionally demanding. Since you will always have to come up with new ideas, it can be quite exhausting to work as an artist, especially if you often suffer from a lack of creativity.

In such a case, a career as an artist may drive you mentally sick in the long run.

Is it dangerous to work as an artist?

It is not dangerous to work as an artist. Since you will do most of your work indoors, you will have a much lower risk at work compared to policemen, firefighters or other people who have to deal with serious trouble all day long.

How long do artists stay in their jobs?

Artists often work in this field for quite a long time. Not only do most artists like their jobs quite a lot, but they often also don’t have many other job options.

Consequently, once you decide for becoming an artist, chances are that you will work in this field for quite a long time and you should therefore really make sure that this is what you want to do before going this career path.

Is it easy for artists to find a new job?

While it is pretty hard for new artists to find jobs, it is much easier for artists how have already built some reputation.

In fact, the more recognized you are, the higher the chances that you will not actively have to advertise for finding jobs anymore since clients will recommend you in a natural manner.

Is it hard to switch from being an artist to another field of work?

It is pretty hard for artists to work in a different field since they often lack the skills to do so and also often don’t have a degree in the area they want to switch to.

Consequently, many artists will not be able to make this switch and may get stuck in the artist industry for quite a long time.

Do artists have a high social status?

Artists don’t have a high social status. In fact, many artists are belittled and even your family and your friends may not think that working as an artist can be a real job.

Hence, make sure that you are able to deal with snarky comments in this regard before you decide for a career in this field.

Can you help out your family and friends as an artist?

While you can make many nice pieces of art for your favorite people, you will still not be able to really support your family and friends in difficult situations of their lives.

For instance, if family members urgently need money, you will often not be able to financially support them since your own salary will be rather low.

Can artists work remotely?

It is possible for most artists to work remotely, at least for a few days per week. Thanks to our modern technologies, it is now possible to make video calls with your clients instead of having to see them in person and this can really save you lots of time and can also increase your overall level of flexibility.

Is it easy to find a partner as an artist?

Since artists don’t have a high social standing and also don’t make a lot of money most of the time, it is also pretty hard for artists to find a partner for a long-term relationship since people often just don’t trust you that you are able to provide for them.

Do artists have to work on weekends?

While artists don’t have to work on weekends, it can still help you to work Saturdays or even Sundays if you are still new in this industry and want to build a strong brand as soon as possible.

Consequently, whether you have to work on weekends or not depends on your ambition as an artist.

Do artists have to work on holidays?

Artists also don’t have to work on holidays. However, if you are willing to work during these times, you may be able to make additional money on the side that can be really helpful, especially if you struggle to find jobs and urgently need money to pay your bills.

Do I have to work at nighttime as an artist?

While painting artists often only work during the day, other types of artists may also have to work at nighttime.

Hence, if you don’t want to work at nighttime, make sure to choose an art niche in which working at night is not urgently necessary.

Do you have to travel as an artist?

While you will not have to travel as an artist while you are still new and unpopular in this field, this will change rather quickly once you reach a certain level of fame and reputation.

Once people know who you are, you will often be invited to conferences and other art events and this means that you will also be away from home quite often.

Are artist pensions good?

Since artists often work self-employed, they will not get a good pension at all. Moreover, due to the rather poor money most artists make, they will often also not be able to save and invest enough money for retirement age and old-age poverty is therefore pretty common among artists.

Are artist salaries going up?

Artist salaries have not gone up substantially over the past decade. While world-famous artists are able to increase the money they make from their jobs year-on-year, most other artists don’t have this luxury and barely find any jobs that pay good money.

Can you have a positive effect on society as an artist?

Since you can be quite creative regarding what you want to do for a living as an artist, you can also have a significant positive effect on society, at least if you don’t follow the mainstream but rather develop your own ideas what a brighter future for society could look like.

How long does it take to become an artist?

It will not take you a long time to become an artist. In fact, you will not need to get a degree or anything.

All you need for becoming an artist is talent, passion and motivation to push through difficult times if you finally want to succeed in the long run.

Is it difficult to become an artist?

Becoming an artist is not difficult at all. In fact, there are no formal requirements for working in this field. Hence, almost everyone will be able to enter this market.

However, while starting an artist career is pretty easy, staying in this field for a long time is hard and most artists quit in the long run since they are just not able to make enough money from what they are doing.

Do you need to be smart to work as an artist?

While you don’t need to be smart as an artist, you still need a high level of creativity to succeed in this game in the long run.

If you don’t have this creativity, your work will be quite boring and also your clients will not appreciate what you make for them that much.

Do artists have a good work-life balance?

Most artists don’t have a good work-life balance since they often have to work long hours to make enough money to survive.

Some artists even need a second job to pay their bills and in such a case, you will have a pretty poor work-life balance since all you will do is work to pay your bills.

How many hours do artists have to work?

While renowned artists who are already famous may have a rather relaxed workweek and may not have to put in many hours anymore, most other artists will have to work at least 40 hours per week.

Most of them have to work even more to be able to pay their basic expenses.

Do artists have to work many extra hours?

While artists don’t have to work many extra hours from an official standpoint since they often work self-employed and can decide how much they actually want to work in theory, many artists will still work many extra hours in practice since they just need the money.

How to maximize your chances of becoming an artist?

If you want to become a famous artist, you should get in touch with famous people in the artist industry soon.

You can do so by doing an internship or by working as a personal assistant of one of those artists to get a better impression of what makes those people that successful so that you can adopt some of those things as well.

Do artists work indoors or outdoors?

Artists work indoors most of the time. Hence, while many other people have to work outdoors in the cold or during times of extreme heat, you will be able to enjoy a coffee or a nice cool drink at your workplace as an artist.

What does the workplace of an artist look like?

As an artist, you will often work from home and can create your workplace as you want it to be according to your individual preferences.

What your workplace will look like in detail also greatly depends on the type of artwork you will specialize in.

Do you have to look good for working as an artist?

There is no need to look good as an artist. However, what you need is a personality and a style that people will recognize and associate with you if you want to stay successful in the art industry in the long run since this is what differentiates mediocre from great artists.

Is an artist career beneficial for your private life?

Since you will not make lots of money and also don’t have a high social standing, working as an artist may not be beneficial for your private life at all since it may be hard for you to find a partner and your partner may also leave you for a better deal in the long run.

Do you need a college degree for becoming an artist?

You don’t need a college degree for becoming an artist. Even though going to art school and learning your craft may help you get some reputation in this field, it is actually much more important to have talent and passion for what you are doing and that you also believe in yourself.

Do you need to be certified to work as an artist?

There are no certificates that you need to become a successful artist. You just need to have the motivation to improve yourself every day.

Moreover, you should also have some level of talent since you will not likely succeed in the art industry otherwise.

How much does it cost to become an artist?

Since you will not have to go to college for working as an artist, you can start your artist career at almost no cost. All you need to do is work hard on your skills.

You can also learn everything you need to start your artist career online and don’t have to spend lots of money on education in this field.

Is being an artist a good career?

While most artists who work in this field are really passionate about what they are doing, many artists still struggle to make a living from what they are doing and need a second job to survive.

Consequently, an artist career doesn’t really make sense from a monetary perspective, even though it may bring lots of joy into your life.

Is it easy to start your own business as an artist?

Most artists work self-employed. Consequently, it is pretty easy to start your own business in the artist industry.

You can do so by spending almost no money since you can create your pieces of art at home and sell it on your own website you can create for free.

Can you provide for your family by working as an artist?

Most artists are not able to make a full-time income from what they are doing. Thus, especially if you live in regions where living costs are quite high, you may not be able to provide for your family as an artist and if you have the ambition to have kids one day, chances are that you should go for a different career instead.

Will artists suffer from old-age poverty?

Since artists often don’t make good money and are not able to save and invest enough money for retirement, many artists suffer from old-age poverty and don’t know how they should pay for rent and other basic expenses once they get older and quit their active careers.

Can you get rich as an artist?

While a small group of artists get wealthy or even rich, most artists are barely able to make a living from what they are doing.

Hence, if you really want to become rich, you should rather become a doctor or investment banker instead.

Do you get continuous training as an artist?

Since you will work self-employed as an artist, you will not get any training at all. Thus, it is crucial that you develop your skills further every day and that you also watch videos and inform yourself about latest developments in the art industry to stay ahead of the game.

Are artists organized in unions?

Artists are mostly not organized in unions. This means that you will have to care for yourself regarding how much you want to charge your clients since nobody else will support you in this process.

Do you get paid when you are sick as an artist?

Since you will work self-employed, you will also not get sick pay as an artist. Consequently, if you are a person who is sick quite often, you may really struggle in this field since you will only get paid if you are productive.

Do artists have a high level of responsibility?

While artists have some social responsibility, they still don’t have the same high level of responsibility as doctors whose decisions may take away the lives of many people every day.

Consequently, you will also not be that important to society as an artist.

Can artists work abroad?

It is pretty easy for artists to work abroad. Since you will not need any formal education for working in this field, you can work from wherever you want, especially if you leverage digital channels and can become location-independent soon.

Is it stressful to work as an artist?

While working as an artist is not physically stressful, it can still be stressful from a mental and emotional perspective since you often have to deal with high levels of insecurity and will not know how to make money just a few weeks or even days from now.

Is it boring to work as an artist?

Since you can be pretty creative at work, an artist career will not get boring for you, at least if you are passionate about the type of art you are doing and chances are that you will stay motivated as an artist for quite a long time.

Is being an artist hard?

Working as an artist can be hard from a mental and emotional standpoint. You will often not know how to pay your bills in the near future and this constant level of insecurity can really make you sick in case you don’t have a stable mental mindset and are able to deal with pressure in a healthy manner.

Is there a dress code for artists?

You don’t have to follow a certain dress code as an artist. Instead, you can wear what you feel most comfortable in.

You can also dress in an exotic manner so that people will recognize you quickly and you can really build a personal brand around your exotic appearance which may make it easier for you to succeed in the art industry in the long run.

What kind of artists are paid the most?

Famous painters are usually the ones who are able to earn the most money in the artist industry.

However, you can still make good money in different fields of art as long as you are really good at what you are doing and are also willing to work hard on yourself.

What percentage of artists are women?

According to official studies, almost 48% of artists are women. Hence, there is a pretty healthy balance between men and women in this field and you don’t need to fear being discriminated against in this regard at all.

Do I need a mentor to succeed in the artist industry?

While you don’t necessarily need a mentor to succeed in the art industry, having a strong mentor can really help you get your first jobs.

This can be worth gold, especially if you are new in the art business and nobody knows you yet.

Do artists have a high life expectancy?

Artists have a rather low life expectancy. This is due to the high level of insecurity they experience in their jobs and the emotional pressure that comes along with it.

Moreover, many artists also have a pretty unhealthy lifestyle and all this adds up when it comes to your overall life expectancy.

Do artists suffer from sleeping problems?

Since artists often have to worry about their finances, many artists also suffer from serious sleeping problems since they just don’t know how they should pay their bills and this pressure can really prevent you from falling asleep at night.

What states are best for working as an artist?

States and regions that have pretty low living costs while still having an intact art scene are great for artists, especially in your first years when you will most likely not make that much money and rather have to build your reputation first.

Job alternatives to becoming an artist

If you no longer want to become an artist, you can also go for a career as a musician, art director, art teacher, illustrator, singer or designer instead.

What are the pros and cons of working as an artist?

If you want to get even more information about an artist career, you should also have a look at the pros and cons of working as an artist.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/topics/1119/art-market/

https://www.statista.com/topics/5254/global-online-art-market/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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