UK Artists Getting Poorer As 82% Earn Less Than £10,000 PA

RCA Grad Show 2017

A new report out today shows that UK emerging, mid-career and senior artists are getting poorer: 82% now earn less than £10,000 a year. Artfinder who produced the study shows an increase in the percentage of artists earning less than £10,000 a year, up from 72% in 2013 to 82%. It’s also worse for women – with 83.6% earning under £10,000 (from 98% of respondents who stated gender). This is further proof that the art market continues to be dominated by the elite 5% of commercially successful artists, with a 13% margin of artists scraping by above the £10k mark.

‘Artist income as a whole is falling’ – Jonas Almgren

The Independent Art Market report, compiled by Artfinder and partner organisations including Artrooms art fair, Vango Art and art education business Be Smart about Art, aims to lift the lid on an emerging ‘independent artist market’ – that is artists who are selling their work directly to consumers either as well as or instead of through galleries.

Jonas Almgren, CEO of Artfinder comments: “The online art market grew 15% in 2016 to $3.75bn, making it an 8.4% share of the market as a whole. A large proportion of it is dominated by the high end, by the so-called ‘bricks and clicks’ players finally embracing online. “However, that isn’t the whole picture. There is a new independent artist market emerging too. There are now thousands of independent artists selling their art online, as well as the new demographic of buyers who don’t see themselves as traditional ‘art collectors.’ The fact that artist income as a whole is falling is something that should worry us all.”

Artist Fintan Whelan comments: “Compared to 20 years ago, it’s not necessarily easier to be an artist, but it has changed a lot. There are more opportunities to get exposure, more ways to sell your work through online platforms, artist fairs and more show venues but also more distractions to take an artist away from the studio. The local artist who had a solo show and maybe two group shows a year has now become a global artist travelling between events and setting new goals while marketing their “brand”.” This is the first year Artfinder has published this report, which will become an annual report on the growth of the independent artist sector.

Photo: RCA Graduate Show 2017 © P C Robinson Artlyst

To read the full report, please visit


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