An Artists Wage

An Artists Wage

Destynee Haskins

Many young artists around the world get discouraged from becoming professional artists later on in life after finding out how much artists make. On average, in the U.S., artists or illustrators make a little over minimum wage, and sometimes minimum wage, just by selling their art. Being an artist is very hard to become successful because most of the time, artists do not get recognized until they have passed or later on in their career. 

As an artist, not only do you have to be able to afford the basic necessities, such as food, water, and rent, but artists have to also buy art supplies when they run out, paint brushes when they get too old to use, new paints when the old ones are no longer usable, and primer and canvases. 

Supplies may not seem like they cost much but a set of 48 two fluid ounce bottles of high quality acrylic paint is $103.65. That may sound like a lot, but two fluid ounces is one sixth of a regular can of soda. A cheap canvas is always at least $1 a canvas, but most of the time, artists have to use more high quality canvas for more high quality work. Sometimes, artists use other mediums, such as clay, watercolor, oil paint, and others. Acrylic is only the cheapest kind of paint to get in high quality and quantity. 

To be able to make ends meet, an artist most likely needs to spend all day painting with only food breaks. This would turn rather quickly from a fun hobby you decided to pursue as a career to a heavy workload, which can often stress you out and lower the quality of the work. The lower quality work means the less money it is sold for. That is only in the U.S. In other countries that do not have a minimum wage, artists make much less. An example of this is anime artists in Japan. Anime artists make about ¥200 per drawing; this roughly converts to less than two U.S. dollars. These drawings can take several hours to do. While the drawings are mostly drawn digitally, this amount of money is hardly enough money for a nice dinner at the end of a long day. Assuming that the artist can make high quality drawings in one hour, which is very unlikely, an artist can make ¥4800, roughly $48 a day; this is without eating or sleeping. With no eating or sleeping, a person working a minimum wage can make $226.80 a day in Michigan. That is a big difference. Do you think you could live off of a max of $48 a day? If someone works a job that they do not enjoy and are uninterested in, the quality of the work they do overall is worse. So many artists around the world struggle with keeping a roof over their head, getting daily meals, and even having enough art supplies to keep working. Not only is this a problem in Japan, but the average yearly earning for an artist in Europe is €30,000, which is roughly $36,285; this is less than what an artist here would get on average. Trying to pursue being an artist is incredibly hard. You have to live up to the artist standards and stereotypes, get a degree in art, and be “good enough” for someone willing to hire you.