Craft Artists: Salary Overview
Craft artists create objects that are designed to be functional using a variety of materials and techniques.
They may create pottery, glassware, and textiles using techniques such as glassblowing, knitting, or weaving.
Most craft artists, especially independent artists, spend a lot of time and effort building a reputation and selling their artworks to potential clients.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for craft artists was $34,710 as of May 2019.
Wages for artists, in general, vary based on a wide range of factors, and, according to BLS, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,710 a year as of May 2019 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,960 per year.
Craft Artist Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, craft artists held about 4,640 jobs in 2019 and about 1,330 of them worked as independent artists.
The industry of nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing employed about 540 craft artists.
Around 300 craft artists were employed in the field of other miscellaneous manufacturing and 160 worked for sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores.
The highest paying industry for craft artists was the field of advertising, public relations, and related services where the mean annual salary was $65,800 in May 2019.
However, this field hired only about 50 craft artists in 2019.
Craft artists who worked in the motion picture and video industries earned an annual average wage of $50,470 in May 2019.
Independent craft artists earned around $38,470 a year as of May 2019 while those who worked for the nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing field earned a mean annual wage of $33,530.
The industry of other miscellaneous manufacturing offered a mean annual wage for craft artists of $38,520 while sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores paid craft artists an average annual wage of $33,770.
If you decide to be an independent artist your earnings are affected by the level of your skills but also by your marketing skills and can vary from year to year, region by region, or season by season.
For example, if you knit beanies, your earnings will be higher in the cold season than in the warm months.
Because their earnings fluctuate widely, many craft artists have to keep another job in order to support their craft career.
Craft Artist Salary by Compensation Structure
Most craft artists are self-employed and their earnings depend directly on the number of objects they sell and their reputation.
Entry-level self-employed artists charge a small fee until they gain experience and build a reputation and artists who already have a reputation and a client base may earn more than salaried artists.
Some craft artists are hired by a store or a manufacturer and may be paid on a salary base or by the hour.
Their earnings also vary depending on the compensation package they negotiate with the employer.
In some cases, employees receive a fixed salary plus commission on sales.
The level of commissions depends on the craft artist’s reputation and success and only the most successful artists receive major commissions for their work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of craft and fine artists is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.
Job prospects and wages for craft artists vary widely depending on the state of the economy and how many people can afford to spend money on craft art.
Typically people are more interested in buying more artwork during good times and less inclined to spend money on crafted objects during economic downturns.
Job opportunities and earnings also depend on the type of craft you specialize in, your style, creativity, and talent, and as a craft artist, you have to spend a lot of time honing your skills and building a client base.
* Based on information from the May 2019 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Craft Artists. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.