The “starving artist” has long been a common figure of speech, but a new study about artists’ finances shows just how difficult it can be to make a living in the creative professions, especially in the midst of economic turmoil.
The study, conducted by Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC), a nonprofit that works to supports artists, states that more than 50 percent of artists have seen income drop in the last year with a staggering 18 percent of respondents reporting an income loss of more than 50 percent over that period.
Remarkably, though, 75 percent of the 5,200 artists surveyed said that it was an inspiring time to be an artist, and 89 percent felt that artists could play a special role in strengthening their communities during turbulent economic times.
Many of the results from the survey provided empirical evidence of facts that artists have long known exist: the majority of artists work a second job (and about 20 percent work a third job) to finance their art, musicians and architects make more than painters and writers, and the majority have college degrees, though they fail to benefit fully from the income that typically accompanies that achievement in other industries.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that two million Americans consider being an artist to be their primary profession. There was, at least, a bit of a silver lining in the report: Many respondents said that, with other avenues of making money suddenly closed, they were spending more time on their art.