How Much Artists Make in a $4 Billion Market with a Growth Rate of 21.5%

According to Deloitte and ArtTactic's 2014 Art and Finance Report, contemporary art sales have been growing by 21.5% annually, reaching $3.3 billion in the top 2 auction houses alone.

Sale of post-war and contemporary art by artists born after 1945 over the last 13 years. Please note: This count does not include sales from other auction houses, like Phillips, or private galleries and art dealers.

Sale of post-war and contemporary art by artists born after 1945 over the last 13 years. Please note: This count does not include sales from other auction houses, like Phillips, or private galleries and art dealers.

Nowadays, artists are reported to make a combined total of 1.5 billion euros (about 1.6 billion US dollars), 1.3 billion euros of which go to the top 500 in the world, according to ArtPrice.com. That means the remaining population of artists share about 200 million euros (or 216 US dollars)  in combined income.

Please note: amount recorded in euros and converted to USD using the January 2016 exchange rate of 1 Euro = 1.08 USD. Contemporary Artists' salary seem to have grown dramatically over the last 10 years, but half of the amount made goes to the top 50 artists in the world, 90% to the top 500 artists. 

Please note: amount recorded in euros and converted to USD using the January 2016 exchange rate of 1 Euro = 1.08 USD. Contemporary Artists' salary seem to have grown dramatically over the last 10 years, but half of the amount made goes to the top 50 artists in the world, 90% to the top 500 artists. 

So what does that leave for the rest of the artists in the world? Here's a sobering perspective from Don Thompson's book, The Supermodel and the Barillo Box:
• 80000+ artists in New York and London alone, not including the growing Chinese artists population.
• 400 (0.5%) might show in galleries and make 6-7 figures annually.
That' leaves 79600 (99.5%) part-time, budding, under-the-radar artists.

With these odds, it's no wonder that most artists are not doing it for the money, and are simply driven by passion and love of the craft. We applaud the 99.5% and aspire to increase the odds.