The Disadvantages of Artists

Talent and hard work can lead artists to established careers and a reliable source of income. However, artistic fields are often competitive and may not allow an artist to be self-supporting. There are both pros and cons of being an artist. Making a list of each can help you decide if a career in the arts is right for you.

Inconsistent Income

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median 2020 income of craft and fine artists was ​$49,120​ per year, or ​$23.62​ per hour. Median earnings represent the halfway point, meaning that 50 percent of the people in the occupation earned more, while 50 percent earned less. Musicians and singers earned a median of ​$31.40​ per hour, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. An hourly wage may be more accurate for work in the music business, since entertainers may work irregular hours and may not work 12 months a year.

Irregular Scheduling

Those attempting to make a living solely off the sale of their art have to put in a lot of time and effort to attract potential buyers and to build a reputation. They must work around showcases, presentations and openings in galleries, museums or other establishments they hope to display their work in. Multimedia artists who similarly work from home often endure 50-hour weeks to keep up with client demand and maintain their creative and dependable reputations.

Limited Opportunities

Artist employment is largely impacted by the amount of charity that goes toward the arts. The Philanthropy Network reported that 2020 was an unprecedented year for charitable giving, with a record ​$471.44​ billion donated to causes in a variety of categories, including the arts. Wealthier households may have felt the impact of the global pandemic less, prompting them to give more. The stock market also rebounded at the end of 2020 with news of a COVID-19 vaccine, another likely reason for an increase in giving. Because giving is tied to global events and the economy, artists cannot be sure that giving at 2020 levels will continue. Funding for the arts typically faces an uncertain future.

Additional Downsides

Some artists wear medical masks to protect their lungs while working.

Being a professional artist is not just about using natural talent to make money. As with any other career, artists are expected to grow and produce better results each time. Particularly for those selling their work for a living, constantly enhancing their creative skills is a necessity to stay in the competition. However, the consistent exposure to the materials required for the job may potentially have harmful impacts. Visual artists may be exposed to harmful chemicals, such as solvents and fumes. Performing artists may suffer physical effects; dancers may tear a ligament, singers can put too much strain on vocal chords. Inherent risks, however small, are associated with various types of careers in the arts.