Employment of craft and fine artists is projected to grow by 5 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.
Employment growth of artists depends in large part on the overall state of the economy, because purchases of art are usually optional. During good economic times, more people and businesses are interested in buying artwork; during economic downturns, they buy less.
Although there is always a demand for art by collectors and museums, the employment of artists is also impacted by the level of charitable giving to the arts—which has been decreasing in recent years.
In addition, job growth for craft artists may be limited by the sale of inexpensive, mass-produced items designed to look like handmade American crafts. However, consumers’ continued interest in locally-made products will likely offset some of these employment losses.
Demand for illustrators who work on a computer will increase as media companies use more detailed images and backgrounds in their designs. Illustrators and cartoonists who work in publishing may see job opportunities decline as traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms. However, new opportunities are expected to arise as the number of electronic magazines and Internet-based publications grows.
Competition for jobs as craft and fine artists is expected to be strong because there are more qualified candidates than available jobs. Only the most successful craft and fine artists receive major commissions for their work.
Despite the competition, studios, galleries, and individual clients are always on the lookout for artists who display outstanding talent, creativity, and style. Talented individuals who have developed a mastery of artistic techniques and skills will have the best job prospects.
Competition among artists for the privilege of being shown in galleries is expected to remain intense, as will competition for grants from funders such as private foundations, state and local arts councils, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Because of their reliance on grants, and because the demand for artwork is dependent on consumers having extra income to spend, many of these artists will find that their income changes with the overall economy.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition