Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

You can send an email to [email protected] if you have questions about how to use this forum.

How much money can you make as a painter?

How much money can you make as a painter? I know this is a broad question but I would love to know what experiences people have had with making money as a painter.


  • edited August 2017
    Generally,very little. Especially when you are just starting out. :# 
  • If you're a self taught artist but serious about taking painting as a career then get a seperate job to pay for the expenses of materials, marketing and exhibition costs. Very few self-taught can get money.
  • Painter8929

    In 2007-08, the median total income of an artist was estimated by Throsby and Zednik to be around $35,900 and the median creative income was $7,000. However, 17 percent of artists worked full time on their creative practice (more than 38 hours per week) and the median income increased to $22,500. Of those artists working full time, the average time spent on their creative practice was 51 hours per week.[1]

    Figure 18 - Median creative incomes (2007-08) and average time spent on creative work by art form

    AllTime spent > 38 hrs
    Median incomeAvg time (hrs)Median incomeAvg time (hrs)
    All artists$7,00022$22,50051
    CACD practitioners$14,60022$60,00047
    Craft practitioners$10,00027$13,00051
    Visual artists$4,50028$19,20053


    Summer[Deleted User]
  • ''Ηow much money can you give to paint?'' This is the question I'm currently trying to answer :)
  • Michalis

    Add any two phone numbers together for an approximation  :o

  • walkowalko -
    edited August 2017
    It all depends on what type of artist you are thinking about.  There are many types.

    There are career artist, they do art for work, they are the photographers, designers, illustrators, teachers, marketers, game developers, etc. They make up the majority of the art community.  They do well because of the steady income.  Illustrators and Photographers generally bring in the most income.  The many I know pull in from 50K to 100K USD a year.  The working class artists do better long term because of health care, 401K etc..

    Then you have, the mixed Fine/working artists.  They do "fine art" most of the time and supplement their income by teaching or doing other things (like selling paint ... no offense just a good example).  They do ok and get by short term, I know seven of these artists I don't think they bring in more than 40K to 50k a year.  Long term, well it depends, they do struggle a bit

    Then there are the artist who consider themselves "fine artists" who "do art for arts sake."  The odd thing about this group is that a majority of these artists are retired professionals or they are independently wealthy to start off with. They have some other income from other sources.  I know about three dozens of these people very few sell art for more than a few 100 USD each.  Excluding the other sources of income I doubt they clear 5K for their art a year if they are lucky.

    The other part of the "fine artists" group are the lifers. They have been painting all their life.  I know nine artists like this. They don't teach, they don't do odd jobs, they just paint. Most of them have found someone that supports them as they do their work, a good safety net in some cases.  I know one who has not sold a painting in years, but she keeps painting. It is not an easy life.  They do a lot of shows and have to do a lot of meet and greets to stay connected with potential buyers. Most of them when they do sell a painting it is the 5K range.  But they may sell only one painting a month and if it was in a gallery they only get half.  They don't make a lot of money, unless they can move up in the "Fine art market."  One artist was doing very well in the late 90s, he was selling in New York and was getting a lot of money.  Then the gallery dropped him. He does not come close to what he was getting.  Artists are at the whim of dealers who take half or even more on a sale of a painting.
  • I know three professional artists who paint for a living. They vary in terms of how much money they make.

    1) Spouse has full-time income:
    The first is a 'starving' artist who's wife is very involved with his work and she has a full-time job which essentially covers the basics. His work is primarily acrylics and anything from Impressionist to Abstract. He has been contracted by corporations for very large pieces and very wealthy benefactors. He's in his early 70s and has painting his whole life. He barely scrapes by with his earnings, although his larger works do sell for several thousand dollars. 

    2) Independent artist w/gallery; niche art; internet and gallery:
    She is in her early 50s and paints for a very specific niche. She has a gallery in a Victorian home she refurbished in an elite touristy town outside of one of the major metro areas. Her paintings are a very specific style which corresponds with a specific architectural genre. She mostly sells to individuals but she has contracted with corporate, most recently a specific, unique hotel.  
    However, she tells me she breaks even at her gallery and would not be able to support herself except that she sells her works online. In order to save on shipping, she often sends her painting on canvas unframed, rolls the canvas and mails it out to her customers. She has done well, but I would say she is within the $50-$100K annual income level.

    3) Painter, writer, professor, mentor, studio owner, business consultant, etc:
    This painter is 100% self-supporting. He started in academics as president of several art academies, he's published notable books, he's conducted seminars on particular studies, he offers individual and group workshops. He's very well accomplished and recognized. His works garner between $1,500-$14,000.

    In most cases, however, painting is an expensive but very enjoyable hobby. In my experience, most artists do not gain their livelihood through their art. 
  • I'm not sure I would want to be able to make enough money to do artwork full time though. The pressures might ruin my enjoyment of painting..
  • edited August 2017
    I am primarely self taught, when I used to render realism in chalk on sidewalks, 1st four years were great, lots of money but later that same 4th year, barely nothing and same for another 5 years, just enough to buy chalk and few pastels for next stint, nothing more, nothing less. I used to work full time in government agencies as general clerk during the day and work at art all night. When I used to work in advertising some of my work would bring in thousands for the company but not for me.
  • As regards full-time artists; the difference between a poor artist and a rich artist is the rich artist has learned how to market himself. I didn't make that up, a successful painter said that. I think it is true. It is the same with all people who are self-employed, before they can sell their product or service, they must first sell themselves.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    @painter8929 ; Celebrities, sports figures, Royalty, Presidents, people of notoriety, and those actively in the professions, as well as some retired professionals, who paint with oil, have a ready-made and eager audience to buy their paintings and therefore they can and do make a lot of money more easily than the rest of us chickens--haha.  I fit the chicken category.  I don't know which category you are a part of.  I think art professionals holding degrees spend a great deal more time, money, and energy for a future that is wrought with uncertainties and stay on their chosen path for the sheer love of the arts.  One artist who dropped out of my alma mater and became a business man, recently donated five million dollars to our school.  Life is weird!   Summer
Sign In or Register to comment.