Artist Salary Research

    Debate on the Future Economy of Art as the Median Wage for Artists is revealed to be only £10,000.


    DACS has released new figures which reveal that the national median wage for a fine artist in 2010 was only £10,000 - less than half of the average UK salary.

    The research on artist’s wages comes from a study conducted by the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University and funded by DACS illuminates the financial struggles faced by artists, designers, photographers and illustrators. The report can be accessed online.

    The research report provides a vital evidence base for policy-makers on how the digital environment is affecting copyright issues for visual artists. It draws on responses to a survey of 5800 participants and reveals a startling insight into the everyday difficulties of earning money through art.

    Issues in the report include the precarious financial nature of a career in visual arts, with typical earnings well below the UK national median wage of £21,320. In 2009/10, the typical photographer earned £15,000 (median); the typical illustrator earned £15,723 (median) while the typical fine artist earned only £10,000 (median).

    The research also explores how many artists are multi-tasking in order to make ends meet. Careers typically are sustained by a portfolio of other activities with 35% having a formal second job.

    Another emerging issue was that of moral rights: for example, the right to be named as author (attribution right), (ii) the right to protect the work against derogatory treatment. In 26% of illustrators and designers waived their moral rights in 2009-2010.

    Following on from DACS' debate 'What are we worth? Artists and the Economic Crisis', DACS' research is particularly relevant given that 1 January 2012 is the date of the final implementation of the Artist’s Resale Right.

    Stuart Semple and Gavin Turk are among the artists who have recently spoken out about the importance of the Resale Right in ensuring financial security for artists and their families. The online petition supporting the Artist’s Resale Right has been signed by almost 2,000 people.

    British artist Stuart Semple recently said of the various financial barriers faced by artists:

    ‘Art is one of the most difficult things to make a living from. When you’re starting out, it’s a real struggle because you’ve got to fork out for materials, studios and often people have to take on other jobs.’

    Meanwhile, Gavin Turk revealed his concerns about the state of financial security for artists and their families in a recent Youtube video.

    If you would like to find out more about any of these issues contact Tania Spriggens, Director of Communications at DACS -

    Photo: Jeremy Deller © Brian Benson 2013.

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