In December 2022, I composed a brief, non-scientific survey to gain some data on American artists: who was working, who had left the field; who was making their primary living from the arts, who was gigging in different fields. My sincere thanks to those who took the time to complete the survey. (And big thanks to those who alerted me to confusing language and missing/misnamed demographic categories.)
I was curious to dig into artistic identity: whether being an artist was a bit of personal or professional identity, and whether one’s income or employment changed the way they self-identified.
141 people responded to my questions. Of those surveyed, 95.7% consider themselves artists, and listed disciplines from vocalist and instrumentalist to theatrical designers and culinary artists.
And when making introductions, 75.2% of respondents lead with their artistic discipline. When asked whether they felt “artist” was a personal or professional descriptor, 69.5% said that the term applied simultaneously to both.
46.1% of respondents are working simultaneously in an artistic and non-artistic field.
Prior to 2020, 68.8% of those surveyed made their primary income through their artistic discipline; that number fell 14 points to 54.6% at the end of 2022. But 84.4% of respondents are currently professionally involved in some way in their primary artistic discipline.
In asking how recent world events affected their professional identity, 23.7% of respondents replied that the events of the last few years affected them profoundly. (1= minimally: 10= profoundly)
Next up: some stats on those folks who left the field over the last few years, their reasons for doing so, and how they’re feeling about their decisions.