About 600,000 students taking art classes to earn a college degree
Hart calculated this estimate from Artists & Art Materials USA 2009 artist survey data, as follows: 2,714 active artists responded to the survey. 14% indicated they were taking art classes at a college or university to earn a degree. Hart estimated there were 4.4 million active artists in the USA in 2008. (See page 9.) 14% of 4.4 million is about 616,000. This number is similar to the number of students enrolled in visual and performing arts. (See below.)
Comparison: 664,000 students enrolled in visual and performing arts (NCES)
The National Center on Education Statistics (NCES) indicated there were 664,000 students enrolled in postsecondary schools in the field of visual and performing arts in 2003–2004. At the 1% growth rate for college enrollment in general, this would be about 700,000 in 2008–2009. Note this includes many majors other than fine art. This is the college group, however, that would be most likely to enroll in art classes. (Source: http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/ tables/dt07_222.asp)
Core group: 122,000 students pursuing degrees in art (NCES)
In the field of fine art in particular, Hart calculated there were 122,000 students pursuing associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees in art in 2008–2009, based on the NCES Digest of Education Statistics. (See page 12 for fields of study included for art.) Hart calculated the 122,000 total by taking the number of degrees conferred within the discipline of art for bachelor’s degrees (25,756), master’s degrees (2,954), doctorate degrees (20), and associate’s degrees (1,758) in 2006–2007. The total for each type of degree was multiplied by the typical number of years taken to obtain it. The number of art students increased by 4% per year in 2000–2006, so the totals were then multiplied by 1.08 to determine the 2008–2009 total.
Artist population growth 1% or more per year
The NEA 1992 and 2002 Surveys of Public Participation in the Arts determined that a steady 9% of adults were involved with creating art. In that same period the Census Bureau reports the U.S. population was 255 million in 1992, 288 million in 2002, and 304 million in 2008. Population growth in the U.S. has therefore been about 1.2% per year over the past 16 years. With the percentage of the population involved in creating art steady, any growth has to come from population growth (about 1% per year). As an additional data point, the Census Bureau Occupational Information Network said there were 30,000 fine artists in 2006 and forecasted that to increase by about 10% from 2006–2016, or about 1% per year. That said, given the recent growth in the number of art students (4% per year), the overall artist population could grow at more than 1%.
Comparison: National Artist Survey data showed 0 growth, 1988–1997
The Artist’s Magazine sponsored the National Artist Survey (NAS) every three years from 1985 to 1997. These were national household surveys conducted by NFO. The NAS estimated there were about 12 million people over the age of 15 who purchased art materials in 1997, about the same as they reported in 1988. So the NAS data showed no growth in the number of artists (art materials purchasers) 1988–1997.
Both the NAS and NEA data include both active and occasional artists. This report, in contrast, focuses on active artists, the core market for art materials suppliers and retailers.
This is the population of people for whom creating art is a significant part of their lives. As noted in “Definition of an Active Artist” (p.6), they created 10 or more artworks per year, read artist magazines and Web sites, and shopped at art materials stores. The total was estimated as follows.
Total active artist spending on art materials in 2008 was $1.25 billion. (See page 14 for market size calculations.) Active artist median spending was about $285 on art materials.
The $285 was calculated as a weighted average percentage of the artists in the survey sample: 14% were professionals, median spending $400; 72% were recreational artists, median spending $260; and 14% were students, median spending $300. So $1.25 billion divided by $285 is 4.4 million.
This total does not include occasional artists, those who may do one or two artworks a year and do not view art as a major part of their lives. These occasional artists are not the core market for art supply stores or fine art materials, so they are not part of this report.
About 600,000 artists that sold most of their work
Hart calculated this estimate from the Artists & Art Materials artist survey data, as follows: 2,714 artists responded to the survey, all of them active artists. 14% sold most of their artwork. Hart estimated there were 4.4 million active artists in the USA in 2008. (see page 9.) 14% of 4.4 million is about 616,000. As a comparison datapoint, Etsy.com, a site for selling handmade items (including 412,000 artworks in August 2009), had more than 200,000 sellers as of January 2009.
Comparison: 30,000 officially declared professional fine artists (BLS, 2006)
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides employment data for all occupations, including professional artists. The BLS noted 2006 total employment was 30,000 for fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators. This includes salary, wage, and self-employed workers, and full- and part-time workers. 63% were self-employed. (Source: Occupational Employment, Training, and Earnings database at http://data.bls.gov/oep/noeted/empoptd.jsp) This data is based upon employer reports and BLS occupational surveys; these likely undercount the self-employed and part-time professionals.