“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

Pablo Picasso, Artist

Pros and Cons of Working as an Artist

advantages and disadvantages of being an artist

You want to become an artist? Great!

For many people, working as an artist is indeed a dream job.

Yet, there are also some problems related to this profession and I therefore highly recommend that you check out all the pros and cons of being an artist in this article so that you can make a profound career choice that makes you happy in the long run.

Table of Contents

Artist Job Profile

Job DescriptionArtists draw paintings or do many other sorts of artwork. They sell their artwork and can also make money from some other channels.
Salary$52,000 per year on average, most artists make between $28,000 and $65,000 per year.
Job SecurityNo job security at all since most artists work self-employed.
Job SatisfactionGreat if you love painting and doing artwork and art is just your passion.
Work-Life BalanceGood since you will have plenty of leisure and are also flexible to take time off whenever you want.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Can be mentally and emotionally demanding.
Future OutlookRather poor since many artists will just no longer be needed and replaced by computers and robots.
RequirementsNo fancy educational requirements, even though a college degree in art can help to learn things faster.

Advantages of Being an Artist

  1. Working as an artist can be a passion
  2. You can work in many different fields
  3. Top artists can make really good money
  4. You may be able to become famous
  5. Artists mostly work indoors
  6. Being an artist is not that stressful
  7. You can work self-employed as an artist
  8. Many artists work from home
  9. Artists have good work-life balance
  10. High level of flexibility
  11. You can work whenever you want
  12. You can go on long vacations as an artist
  13. You can avoid hard physical work as an artist
  14. Artists can share their ideas via social media
  15. You can start a side hustle
  16. Artists may be able to travel the world
  17. You may be able to take part in exhibitions
  18. Artists can build a personal brand
  19. You can make many people happy
  20. You may not need a college degree
  21. Becoming an artist can also help you in your private life
  22. You can work with latest technologies
  23. You can reject jobs if you don’t like them
  24. Artists can take time off whenever they want
  25. You can feel fulfilled in life
  26. You can explore your inner self
  27. You can make the world a better place
  28. Artists can outsource some of the work

Working as an artist can be a passion

One advantage of being an artist is that working may not actually feel like work to you.

In fact, many artists would paint pictures and create other kinds of artwork even if they weren’t getting paid.

This is a huge advantage since most other people out there are just in their jobs for the money and don’t have any other motivation that drives them forward.

Thus, while many people just don’t like their work at all, you can go to work with a good feeling every day since you will just love what you are doing and you are not just in this niche for a purely financial purpose.

Consequently, if you love artwork and creating your own masterpieces, you can turn your hobby into a serious profession and can have real fun at work.

You can work in many different fields

Artists also do not only draw nice pictures, but they also create all sorts of other creative masterpieces.

While you might not be outstandingly good in painting, you may have a talent in another creative field and may be able to perform your artwork in this niche.

Opportunities are almost endless for artists and there is demand for almost everything as long as you are really good at what you are doing and have skills almost nobody else has to offer.

Top artists can make really good money

Another upside to working as an artist is that you can also earn really good money from what you are doing.

Sure, many artists don’t make that much money.

Yet, a small minority makes millions of dollars each year.

Hence, even though it may be unlikely to become rich as an artist, your chances may still be much higher compared to many other regular jobs out there.

You may be able to become famous

Apart from the money good artists can make, some of them have become really famous.

In fact, top artists will be renowned even long after they have already died.

Consequently, working as an artist also gives you the opportunity to make history and that your name will never be forgotten.

Of course, you should also stay realistic and realize that most artists will never get to this point.

However, if your dream is to become famous and you are willing to work hard on it, there is at least a small chance to get to this point through your artwork.

Artists mostly work indoors

Another benefit of becoming an artist is that you can also work indoors.

While you might take this for granted, many other people out there still have to work outdoors under extreme climatic conditions.

For instance, many construction workers and garbage collectors have to work during heavy snow, rain or heat.

It doesn’t matter, they will be out there for most of their workday while you will be able to work in a rather cozy environment as an artist.

Being an artist is not that stressful

Many artists also have a rather relaxed life.

Most often, you will have more than enough time to finish your paintings or other artwork for your clients.

You can also set realistic expectations for your customers right from the beginning so that they know how long they have to wait for your work to be finished.

In turn, you can really enjoy your work and will not have to suffer from serious stress most of the time.

You can work self-employed as an artist

Many artists also have the privilege to work self-employed.

While this might not be for everyone since it implies some additional paperwork and you also have to declare additional taxes and comply with legal requirements, working as an independent artist can be great for you if you have the necessary entrepreneurial spirit and working for someone else is just not what you want to do with your life.

Of course, you could also work as an employed artist.

Yet, most artists I know prefer to work on their own since they are just more independent and free to do what they want to do all day long.

Many artists work from home

Another advantage of working as an artist is that you will also be able to work from home.

In fact, especially if you are self-employed, you can avoid commuting to work and back every day.

This can save you lots of money and time since you will just not need money on fuel and will also not get stuck in traffic jams.

Instead, you can just get up in the morning in a good mood and use the time you saved for a nice breakfast before you actually start your workday.

Artists have good work-life balance

Many artists also report a pretty good work-life balance.

Since most of them work self-employed, they don’t have a boss who could tell them when they have to work.

Instead, they can just take weekends, holidays or even weekdays off and do other things apart from work.

Some artists also finish their workday pretty soon in the afternoon since they just don’t feel inspired anymore.

Thus, becoming an artist can also be great for you if you want to have plenty of leisure.

High level of flexibility

As an artist, you will also enjoy a great level of flexibility.

Especially if you work on your own, you can make every decision regarding your business yourself and don’t have to be considerate of anybody else. You can start your workday early in the morning if you are an early bird or rather late if you are an owl.

This gives you plenty of flexibility regarding how your workday should look like and also gives you plenty of opportunities regarding how you want to spend your time after work.

You can work whenever you want

In general, you can work whenever you want as an artist.

If you don’t feel like working is a good idea, you could just spend your time on other things you like more.

Sure, you will have to produce art to survive in the long run.

Yet, you may have periods where you just don’t feel inspired or motivated to really achieve things.

During those periods, it might be better to take some days off and to come back to your work after reloading your batteries.

You can go on long vacations as an artist

If you have enough money in your bank account, you may also be able to go on pretty long vacations as an artist.

You could just finish your existing jobs for your clients and then just don’t accept new clients for an extended period of time anymore.

Instead of working, you can just go on many nice trips or just enjoy your time at home with hobbies you like most.

You can avoid hard physical work as an artist

While painting can be exhausting sometimes, it is not as physically demanding as construction work or many other professions out there.

Thus, while many other people have to work in those physically demanding jobs, suffer from long-term health problems and are also at significant risks of accidents, you will have a rather comfortable life as an artist in this regard.

Artists can share their ideas via social media

Another upside to being an artist is that you can also share your ideas on various social media channels.

In fact, it has never been easier to become a famous artist than it is in our current state of the world since you can spread your ideas for free.

You just have to take some photos of your work and post them on social media.

If you are good enough and people really enjoy your work, they will often share it with their friends and some artists literally become famous overnight without having to spend any additional money on promoting their work.

You can start a side hustle

You can also start your artist career as a side hustle.

In fact, many people keep their regular jobs and draw paintings in their leisure.

This gives you an additional security net since you will still get the money from your day job while preparing the exit from your job at the same time.

After you are sure that you can make a living out of your artist career, you can then quit your job and work as an artist full-time.

Even if you work full-time as an artist, you might be able to start additional projects.

For instance, you could start an art blog or a YouTube channel on which you can teach people how to draw nice paintings, give them tips on how to do it and so on.

In fact, many artists make more money from those side hustles than from selling their work and you will therefore have the opportunity to make money from various different channels if you are able to put in the work.

Artists may be able to travel the world

If you are really good at what you are doing and achieve a certain level of fame, you may be invited to various different events in many different countries.

In turn, someone else will pay you for traveling the world.

Thus, becoming an artist can also be great if you love traveling and experiencing many different cultures.

You may be able to take part in exhibitions

You can also take part in various different exhibitions as an artist.

While it had been hard to do so in the past due to the limited space in those exhibitions, it is now pretty easy since some of those exhibitions also take part online.

Consequently, you will be able to share your work with many people from all over the world and can also discuss your ideas with them.

In turn, you may also be able to make really good friends and stay connected with them for a pretty long time.

Artists can build a personal brand

If you know what you are doing and are also willing to put in the work, you can also build your personal brand as an artist.

If you reach a certain level of fame, you can simply expand your business.

Apart from selling your paintings and other artwork, you may also be able to sell some merchandise and earn additional money from it.

You can make many people happy

If you are really good at what you are doing, you will get many different jobs and people will be really happy to get one of your masterpieces.

In fact, many artists are in the game to make people happy and making money out of their profession is just a thing that comes along with it.

You may not need a college degree

While some artists got a college degree, other famous artists have never seen any college building from the inside.

In fact, it is much more important that you are talented as an artist and formal education is not necessarily a requirement to succeed as an artist, even though it might help since you will learn many techniques faster.

Becoming an artist can also help you in your private life

Apart from work, you can also use your art knowledge in various parts of your private life.

In fact, being an artist also allows you to teach your kids how to draw nice paintings and you can spend plenty of quality time with your family with those things.

While there are indeed many advantages to a career as an artist, there are still many issues related to this career path which I want to discuss for you in the following chapter.

You can work with latest technologies

An artist career also gives you the opportunity to work with latest technologies.

Instead of just drawing your work on paper, you can also do lots of work on a computer and make your work even more exciting.

You can reject jobs if you don’t like them

As a self-employed artist, you will also be a free human being and can decide whether you want to accept a job or not solely dependent on your own preferences since you will be your own boss and don’t have to accept any opinion other than your own.

Artists can take time off whenever they want

Since you will not work for anybody else, you will also be free to take time off whenever you want.

For instance, if you feel stressed right now, you may not want to take on the next job but rather go for something more fun instead.

You can feel fulfilled in life

Working as an artist can also make you fulfilled in life.

Since you can do what you love all day long, you will be pretty relaxed at work and will never burn out since your work will just not feel like work to you.

You can explore your inner self

Being an artist is also great if you want to explore your inner self.

Quite often, artists express themselves through their work and can show the world their true nature.

You can make the world a better place

Since you can work on the projects that really matter to you, you can also make the world a better place since you don’t have to work in a profit-maximizing environment but can do what you feel is most important to society.

Artists can outsource some of the work

As an artist, you also don’t have to do all the work yourself.

Instead, you can outsource some minor work to fellow artists, at least if you have a certain standing in the artist industry and other artists are happy to work with you.

Disadvantages of Being an Artist

  1. Many artists don’t make much money
  2. Some artists even need a second job to pay their bills
  3. Clients can be demanding
  4. You will have difficult times as an artist
  5. Job security is almost non-existent for artists
  6. Questionable job prospects for the future
  7. Hard to earn money during economic downturns
  8. Your salary will greatly vary over the course of the year
  9. You may have problems getting loans or a mortgage
  10. Hard to switch fields
  11. Old-age poverty can be a serious problem for artists
  12. Constant insecurity can lead to mental problems
  13. Many people will fail as artists and try something else in the long run
  14. Many artists have to work long hours
  15. You have to care about bookkeeping and taxes
  16. Working from home can be tough
  17. Some artists suffer from social isolation
  18. You have to meet many different tastes
  19. You will not get paid when you are sick
  20. Artists have to spend lots of money on advertising

Many artists don’t make much money

One disadvantage of being an artist is that you will simply not make that much money from what you are doing.

While a minority of artists get wealthy or even rich, the vast majority of people really struggle to make a living from their artwork and constantly have to worry about their financial circumstances.

Some artists even need a second job to pay their bills

Some artists even need a second job to survive in the long run.

Especially if you live in a region with high living costs, rents may eat up too much of your artist income and you might have to work additional hours in the evening.

This can be really annoying and many people just get tired of this life sooner or later.

Clients can be demanding

Another problem with working as an artist is that also your clients can be pretty demanding.

Sure, most people will greatly appreciate your work if you are good at what you are doing.

Yet, some people just always find something to complain about and you may have to spend many extra hours to satisfy this small group of people.

This may not only be annoying, but it can also lead to serious financial difficulties since you might have to spend much more time on certain tasks than you had expected in the first place.

You will have difficult times as an artist

During your career as an artist, you will also not always be motivated and full of creativity.

Sometimes, you will just lack any ambition to draw paintings and may just sit there and don’t know what to do.

Those creative swings are quite common among artists and you need a certain level of emotional stability to overcome those days, weeks or even months in the creative desert.

Job security is almost non-existent for artists

Another downside to a career as an artist is that you will also have no job security at all.

If you work as self-employed artist, you will only make money if you get any jobs from your clients or if you make money in other ways.

If you work hard and are just not successful, nobody will pay you and you will always suffer from this significant insecurity as an artist.

Questionable job prospects for the future

It is also hard to say how the job market for artists will look like in the future.

While some artists may still be able to make really good money from what they are doing, many others may become obsolete due to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

In fact, chances are that computers may produce most of the art in a couple of years while independent artists may no longer be needed for many jobs.

Hard to earn money during economic downturns

Many artists have also suffered from economic downturns or financial crisis situations quite a lot.

During those times, most people just don’t want to spend significant amounts of money on art but rather let their money sit in their bank account or invest it in gold.

In turn, this means that many artists will no longer be able to make enough money during these crisis periods and may also struggle to find a different job since most companies will not employ people during those crisis times.

Your salary will greatly vary over the course of the year

In general, you should not expect a stable inflow of money as an artist.

While some months may be great, others may just be quite bad and you should also make sure that you save enough money in good times to have a financial buffer for bad times that will come for sure sooner or later.

You may have problems getting loans or a mortgage

Another disadvantage of becoming an artist is that you will experience significant difficulties when it comes to getting a loan or a mortgage from banks.

Banks will know that your job as an artist is not that safe and that you may lose your income sooner or later.

In turn, banks will also not be willing to grant you a mortgage for buying a home and while many of your friends may not have problems in this regard, you may just not be able to fulfill your dream of your own four walls as an artist.

Hard to switch fields

If you haven’t learned any additional skills, you will also have a pretty hard time switching fields as an artist.

In fact, many artists just get stuck and without many years of additional education, they will often be forced to work as an artist forever.

Old-age poverty can be a serious problem for artists

Since you will not make good money from your artist career most of the time, many artists are also at significant risk of old-age poverty.

Hence, while many of your friends may enjoy a good pension, you may still have to work in a job to pay your bills during retirement age.

Constant insecurity can lead to mental problems

While some artists are pretty good at dealing with all the insecurity that comes along with their jobs, others just can’t deal with this emotional pressure in a proper manner and suffer from serious mental problems like depression.

Many people will fail as artists and try something else in the long run

In general, a huge number of artists fail in the long run and decide to work in a different job instead sooner or later.

Thus, make sure that you have a high motivation to really achieve your dream of becoming an artist since you will give up pretty soon otherwise.

Many artists have to work long hours

Since most artists don’t make a good hourly wage, they often also have to work long hours to pay their bills and to provide for their families.

You have to care about bookkeeping and taxes

As an artist, you will not only have to do all the creative work, but you will also have to care about taxes and bookkeeping issues that come along with it.

This can be really annoying and can eat up additional time.

Working from home can be tough

While working from home gives you additional flexibility, it can also be pretty tough if you have kids at home since they will often distract you from work and you may just not get as much done as you wish.

Some artists suffer from social isolation

Many artists are also pretty special and have a hard time connecting to the outside world.

Hence, if you immerse yourself in artwork too much, you may just lose contact with your family and friends and may get socially isolated soon.

You have to meet many different tastes

Since you will have many different clients, you will also have to meet many different tastes.

Otherwise, chances are that you will not be able to make a living as an artist in the long run.

You will not get paid when you are sick

Sick pay is also not common in the artist industry. In fact, you will work self-employed most of the time and if you are sick, you can’t work and will therefore also not make any money.

Artists have to spend lots of money on advertising

If you want to become famous as an artist, you may also have to spend lots of money on advertising.

Otherwise, people will not know who you are and you may just end up as a mediocre artist nobody cares about.

Top 10 Being an Artist Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being an Artist ProsBeing an Artist Cons
You can follow your passion as an artistMost artists don’t make good money
Artists are quite flexibleSome artists even need a second job
You can work on many different thingsOld-age poverty can be a problem
Artists have a good work-life balanceSwings in income are common
Many artists really enjoy their workNo job security at all
You may become famous as an artistYou may get bored in the long run
You can take part in exhibitionsHard for artists to switch fields
You can share your work on social mediaArtists suffer from high levels of insecurity
Artists may be able to travel the worldYour clients can be demanding
You can avoid physical work as an artistCreative desert can be an issue

Should You Become an Artist?

Now that you know all the advantages and disadvantages of being an artist, it is on you to make the final decision of whether you still want to become an artist or rather go for different job options instead.

You should definitely take your time to make a profound decision in this regard since this decision will greatly determine how your life will look like for many years or even decades.

If you want to know even more about an artist career, also make sure to have a look at the salary, job prospects, educational requirements, working hours of artists and much more.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a photographer

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a designer

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a fundraiser

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271013.htm

https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-techniques/beginner-artist/beginning-artist-need-know/

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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