Craft and fine artists held about 48,200 jobs in 2020. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up craft and fine artists was distributed as follows:
- Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators - 25,900
- Artists and related workers, all other - 12,600
- Craft artists - 9,600
The largest employers of craft and fine artists were as follows:
- Self-employed workers - 54%
- Federal government, excluding postal service - 7%
- Independent artists, writers, and performers - 7%
- Motion picture and sound recording industries - 5%
- Personal care services - 3%
Many artists work in fine- or commercial-art studios located in office buildings, warehouses, or lofts. Others work in private studios in their homes. Some artists share studio space, where they also may exhibit their work.
Studios are usually well lit and ventilated. However, artists may be exposed to fumes from glue, paint, ink, and other materials. They may also have to deal with dust or other residue from filings, splattered paint, or spilled cleaning and other fluids. Artists often wear protective gear, such as breathing masks and goggles, in order to remain safe from exposure to harmful materials. Ceramic and glass artists must use caution in working with materials that may break into sharp pieces and in using equipment that can get very hot, such as kilns.
Injuries and Illnesses
Artists and related workers, all other have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. ("All other" titles represent occupations with a wide range of characteristics that do not fit into any of the other detailed occupations.)
Most craft and fine artists work full time, although part-time and variable schedules are also common. Many hold another job in addition to their work as an artist. During busy periods, artists may work additional hours to meet deadlines. Those who are self-employed usually determine their own schedules.
Overall employment of craft and fine artists is projected to grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.
About 5,900 openings for craft and fine artists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
Much of the projected employment growth in these occupations is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020 and is likely to occur early in the decade.
Employment growth for artists depends largely on the overall state of the economy and whether people are willing to spend money on art, because people usually buy art when they can afford to do so. During good economic times, people and businesses are interested in buying more artwork; during economic downturns, they generally buy less. However, there is always some demand for art by private collectors and museums.
Job growth for craft and fine artists may be limited by the sale of inexpensive, machine-produced items designed to look like handmade crafts. A continued interest in locally made products and crafted goods will likely offset some of these employment losses.
Because it is a small occupation, the fast growth for fine artists is expected to result in only about 4,500 new jobs over the decade. Employment of illustrators and cartoonists in publishing may decline as traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms. However, some new jobs are expected as the number of electronic magazines and other online-based publications continues to grow.
The median annual wage for craft and fine artists was $49,960 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,840, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $125,930.
Median annual wages for craft and fine artists in May 2021 were as follows:
- Artists and related workers, all other - $61,580
- Fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators - $60,820
- Craft artists - $35,930
In May 2021, the median annual wages for craft and fine artists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
- Personal care services - $125,930
- Federal government, excluding postal service - $95,910
- Motion picture and sound recording industries - $75,940
- Independent artists, writers, and performers - $38,490
Earnings for self-employed artists vary widely. Some charge only a nominal fee while they gain experience and build a reputation for their work. Artists who are well established may earn more than salaried artists.
Most craft and fine artists work full time, although part-time and variable schedules are also common. In addition to pursuing their work as an artist, many hold another job because it may be difficult to rely solely on income earned from selling paintings or other works of art. During busy periods, artists may have long workdays to meet deadlines.