How Much Do Drawing Artists Make? Complete Overview

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the median salary (not average or weekly rates) income for drawing artists such as graphic designers and fine artists is around $49,960 per year ($24.02 per hour) to $50,710 per year ($24.38 per hour).

While special effects artists and animators can earn $78,790 per year ($37.88 per hour).

Illustrators, who I believe come close to the average definition of a drawing artist, will earn an average of $50,080 per year (according to Indeed Careers).

This does not mean you will walk into a $ 50k-a-year job straight out of school or that your earnings are capped at a certain level. You can definitely earn much more.

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Many factors can influence a drawing artist’s salary, including their educational background, experience level, and the industry in which they are employed.

Furthermore, with the ever-growing impact of social media and online platforms, drawing artists now have the ability to reach a broader audience, potentially leading to greater exposure and increased earnings.

Considering these variables is essential for aspirants seeking to develop a fulfilling and financially stable career in this area.

Working as a drawing artist can present a range of opportunities in unique fields, from freelancing to self-employment, and even finding success in the marketing and selling of one’s artwork.

Regardless of the chosen path, it is necessary for aspiring drawing artists to continuously hone their skills, network with other professionals, and maintain a proactive approach to their careers in order to maximize their chances of success.

How Much Do Drawing Artists Make – Key Callouts

  • Drawing artist salaries vary and depend on factors like location, experience, and industry.
  • Real data from the is only current as of 2021. Anyone stating later dates and statistic are extrapolating from this date or using job ad rates as a guide.
  • Drawing artists encompass many other drawing styles and jobs from graphic designers, freelance artists, police sketch artists and fine artists.
  • The rise of social media and online platforms offer new opportunities to expand exposure and earnings.
  • Location has a bearing on how much drawing artists make. Some cities just pay more for everything and some pay less. There are tradeoffs for each city and you can choose money over lifestyle or vice-versa.
  • Artists can pursue unique avenues like freelancing and self-employment while honing their skills to succeed in this field.

Overview of Drawing Artist Salaries

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When it comes to drawing artist salaries, there is a wide range to consider.

Across the United States, the average salary for a drawing artist is around $4,072 per month which can seem quite low but this includes the earnings from all drawing artist outside of the east coast and west coast high earning locations.

However, this number can vary greatly depending on factors such as experience, location, and specific industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for fine artists, which includes drawing artists, is around $50,710.

This means that half of the artists earn more than this amount, while the other half earn less. Here’s a quick look at some different drawing artist salaries based on experience:

  • Early career (0-1 years): $19.07 per hour
  • Mid-career (4-6 years): $40,764 per year
  • Late career (15+ years): $72,851 per year

These numbers give you an idea of the range in artist incomes. Keep in mind that these figures are just estimates, and individual incomes will always vary based on your specific circumstances.

Pursuing a career as a drawing artist can be rewarding both personally and financially. You can use your skills and creativity to create artwork, express your emotions, and build a fulfilling career.

Additionally, drawing artists have the opportunity to work in various industries, which can lead to different salary ranges.

Some industries where drawing artists are in demand include:

  • Advertising
  • Film and animation
  • Graphic design
  • Fashion
  • Video game development

Remember that improving your skills, building a strong portfolio, and networking can be key to landing well-paying drawing artist jobs and enjoying career growth in this field.

So, if you have the passion for art and are willing to put in the hard work, being a drawing artist might just be a worthwhile and lucrative career for you.

Factors Affecting the Earnings of Drawing Artists

Experience & Education for Drawing Artists

Years of experience and formal education can play a big role in your earnings as a drawing artist and the major factor starting out in your art careers and how much money you can start to earn.

The more experience you have and a solid background, the more opportunities and better pay you might get.

Yet, don’t worry if you’re just starting; even beginners can make decent income by practicing and honing their skills.

Speaking of skills, your skill level directly impacts your earning potential. High-quality work usually means better chances of getting noticed and attracting customers.

Focus on developing your abilities in various kinds of art to expand your market and increase your job opportunities.

Deciding whether you want to take a part-time job or work full-time as a drawing artist will influence your earnings.

Part-time positions may offer less stability and income, but they also allow for more flexibility in your schedule and the chance to pursue personal projects.

Specializing & Niches for Drawing Artists

Certain niches have been gaining popularity lately, like NFT artistsfurry artists, and craft artists.

These unique markets can offer exciting opportunities and great income potential for artists with the right skills and interests.

So, if you make the kind of art needed in one of these areas sparks your passion, give it a shot and you may even be able to command a higher price or better average hourly rate.

Being a cleanup artist is another option that can provide stable income. Working in animation studios or with individual professionals, this role involves polishing drawings and making them look perfect.

It might be less creative but necessary and can be a stepping stone to more lucrative positions.

When it comes to the world of drawing artists, numerous factors affect earnings. By focusing on your skills, exploring various markets, and considering how much time you want to devote to your career, you can maximize your potential and enjoy a rewarding job as a drawing artist.

Location Location Location for Drawing Artist Jobs

Apart from skills, qualifications and networking the other main factor that determines how much a drawing artist or any artist will earn is where the company works for is located.

Some locales just pay more for anything while others will offer better work life balances or offer more for your money (cheap rent etc).

The earnings for drawing artists can vary significantly depending on factors such as location, demand, cost of living, and industry concentration.

Generally, cities with a thriving arts and entertainment industry, as well as a strong presence of design firms, animation studios, or gaming companies, tend to offer higher salaries for drawing artists. 

Some cities known for their creative industries and potentially higher pay for drawing artists include:

Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles is a hub for the entertainment industry, including film, television, and gaming. It is home to many animation studios, game developers, and design firms, offering numerous opportunities for drawing artists.

New York City, New York: New York City has a vibrant art scene and is a center for advertising, fashion, and media. It offers a range of opportunities for drawing artists in areas such as illustration, publishing, advertising, and gallery exhibitions.

San Francisco, California: San Francisco is renowned for its technology and startup ecosystem. It has a thriving gaming and animation industry, as well as a concentration of design and creative agencies, making it an attractive city for drawing artists.

Seattle, Washington: Seattle is known for its strong presence in the gaming industry, with major game studios and technology companies located there. Drawing artists may find opportunities in game design, concept art, or animation.

Austin, Texas: Austin has a growing creative community and is home to a number of design studios, advertising agencies, and gaming companies. It offers a relatively lower cost of living compared to some other major cities.

It’s important to note that while these cities may generally offer higher salaries, individual circumstances, competition, and the specific industry within the art field can still influence earning potential.

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Types of Drawing Artists and Their Salaries

Fine Artists

Fine artists create artwork for galleries, collectors, and exhibitions. They work in various mediums, such as drawing, painting, or sculpture.

On average, fine artists can earn much less per hour as they tend to be freelancers or self employed and typically rely on art prizes or scholarships to get by. Fine artists are also employed in many other fields as described below.

Art Directors

Art directors work in advertising, publishing, or film production, overseeing the visual aspects of projects.

They manage a team of artists and ensure that the final product reflects the intended vision. Art directors typically have a higher salary than fine artists, with an average annual income around $55,000 to $150,000 depending on experience and industry.

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers (also known as a graphic artist) create visual concepts for advertisements, logos, websites, and more.

They use computer software to design layouts, images, and text that communicates a message or idea.

Graphic designers are sadly in a flooded market so earnings potential are based on your skills and what you bring to the table.

It doesn’t help that the market has been flooded with AI tools and off-shore talent that is working for pennies on the dollar.

Storyboard Artists

A storyboard artist will work in film, television, and video game production, creating visual representations of scripts and scenes.

They help directors and producers visualize the final product by drawing scenes, characters, and actions.

Storyboard artists can have varying salaries depending on experience and industry but tend to make a decent income.

Forensic Artists

Forensic artists assist law enforcement professionals by creating facial reconstructions, composite sketches of suspects, or crime scene diagrams.

They use their artistic skills to help solve crimes and provide investigators with necessary visual information.

Forensic artists’ salaries vary widely based on experience, location, and the size of the agency they work for. For many artists, being able to work and help victims in the criminal justice system is a reward in itself.

Video Game Artists

Video game artists create characters, environments, and animations for video games.

They work closely with programmers and designers to bring game concepts to life. Salaries for video game artists may range depending on factors such as company size, location, and experience level.

Remember, salary potential depends on your experience, education, and the industry you choose. Pursuing an art career does not only cater to passion but can also provide financial security when explored wisely.

Concept Artist

Concept artists seem to be all the rage if you take what is being said on the likes of Reddit and art forums as gospel.

A concept artist is a professional who specializes in creating visual representations and designs to convey the initial ideas and concepts for various forms of media, such as video games, films, animation, or advertisements.

They collaborate closely with directors, producers, and art teams to develop the visual style and aesthetic of a project. 

Concept artists use their artistic skills and imagination to produce detailed illustrations, sketches, or digital renderings that showcase characters, environments, objects, and key moments in a story. 

These visual concepts serve as a blueprint for the final production, helping to establish the overall look, feel, and visual direction of a project.

Concept artists often work closely with art directors and production teams to ensure their designs align with the creative vision and objectives of the project. 

They may also participate in brainstorming sessions and provide input on the narrative and storytelling elements, contributing to the overall development and success of a project.

Multimedia Artists

Multimedia artists are professionals who utilize various forms of digital media and technology to create visual content for a wide range of purposes.

They combine artistic skills with technological expertise to produce interactive and dynamic visuals. Multimedia artists often work in fields such as animation, video game development, advertising, film, and web design. 

They may create 2D or 3D graphics, animations, special effects, or user interfaces. Their work involves using software tools, computer programming, and digital design techniques to bring ideas to life.

Multimedia artists may collaborate with teams of professionals, including animators, designers, and programmers, to create cohesive and visually appealing multimedia experiences.

Drawing artists can get involved in multimedia art by expanding their skill set to incorporate digital tools and techniques. They can learn to use software programs such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or Autodesk to create digital illustrations, animations, or visual effects. 

Additionally, drawing artists can explore areas such as concept art for video games, where they contribute to the initial design and visualization of characters, environments, and objects.

They can also work on storyboarding and animatics, which are essential steps in the production of animation or film. 

By embracing digital tools and adapting their artistic abilities to multimedia, drawing artists can explore new career opportunities and expand their creative horizons.

Continuous learning, staying up-to-date with industry trends, and building a strong portfolio that showcases both traditional and digital artwork can help drawing artists succeed in the dynamic world of multimedia art.

Impact of Social Media and Online Platforms

Social media and online platforms offer many advantages for drawing artists. They provide a better option for showcasing artwork and connecting with a wider audience.

Jumping onto social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, or creating your own artist website has become a necessity for today’s visual artists.

For you, social media can be a game-changer. You’ll find it easier to present your work and engage with people who share similar interests.

Building a strong online presence helps expand your reach, connect with potential buyers, and even network with other artists. Online platforms make it possible to bypass traditional galleries and reach clients directly.

  • Benefits of social media:
    • Increase exposure
    • Connect with fellow artists
    • Reach potential buyers
  • Benefits of online platforms and artist websites:
    • Build your brand
    • Display a portfolio
    • Sell artwork directly

As social media usage grows, it has become vital to adapt and make use of these platforms for your artistic career.

By maintaining a strong online presence, you can capitalize on the opportunities they offer. You’ll gain access to a global community and benefit from direct feedback on your work.

Additionally, consistency on these platforms will likely lead to your art gaining more recognition.

Remember, maintaining an online presence doesn’t mean sacrificing quality – focus on creating engaging content that showcases your work and tells the story behind your art. Develop a clear message, and you’ll be successful in this digital age.

Impact of AI (artificial intelligence) on Drawing Artist Earnings

The impact of AI on drawing artist earnings can be both positive and negative, depending on various factors.

On one hand, AI technology has the potential to enhance the efficiency and productivity of drawing artists by providing tools and software that automate certain tasks, such as generating concepts, basic shapes, textures, or backgrounds.

This can save artists time and allow them to focus on more creative and intricate aspects of their work.

Additionally, AI-powered platforms and online marketplaces have created new opportunities for artists to showcase and sell their work to a global audience, potentially increasing their earning potential.

I have used AI to quickly put together some ideas and allowed me to either discard them quickly or develop them further if I like what I am seeing. I usually develop them further by hand or by digital means (like a tablet).

AI has a dark side for drawing artists

But! AI also poses challenges to drawing artists. As AI algorithms and machine learning techniques advance, there is the potential for AI-generated artwork to become more sophisticated and indistinguishable from human-created art.

This could lead to increased competition and a devaluation of traditional hand-drawn art. I am already seeing evidence from artists who have been let go by studios and replaced by so called ‘prompt engineers’ who basically describe art to a machine and it does all the heavy lifting.

The availability of AI-generated artwork and design templates may lead to a decrease in demand for original, commissioned artwork, impacting the earnings of traditional drawing artists.

But this can also mean that customers will start seeing more of the same from AI and will start going back to human generated art as we can be infinitely more original with ideas (for now).

Ultimately, the impact of AI on drawing artist earnings will depend on how artists adapt and leverage AI technology to enhance their skills, creativity, and marketability. This is no different to when drawing jobs were outsourced to low-income countries. 

Artists who embrace AI as a tool and combine it with their unique artistic abilities may find new opportunities and ways to increase their earnings.

It is important for artists to continuously develop their skills, nurture their artistic vision, and find ways to differentiate themselves in a rapidly evolving technological landscape.

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Educational Path and Art Classes

Pursuing a career as a drawing artist? Great! Let’s talk about educational paths and art classes that will be beneficial to you.

First things first, consider earning a bachelor’s degree. Many artists obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to develop their skills and gain access to various job opportunities. While completing this degree, you’ll likely focus on various art-related topics.

Art schools offer specialized programs tailored to the needs of aspiring artists like you. They provide a great opportunity for hands-on learning and structured practice. Some schools even have strong art majors dedicated just to drawing!

If a traditional art school seems out of reach, never fear. Online courses and community colleges are also fantastic options for acquiring vital art skills. Both offer a more flexible learning schedule and can be more affordable than traditional art schools.

Speaking of art classes, mastering color theory is essential for any drawing artist. Becoming well-versed in this area will help bring your artwork to life and create harmonious color schemes that captivate viewers.

While a high school diploma does not always guarantee career success, it is a necessary foundation for your educational journey. Artists in other fields—including graphic design, illustration, and teaching—will find that having an advanced degree is beneficial.

Always remember: Passion and practice go hand-in-hand with your educational path. So, explore various resources to build your skill set and be open to learning new techniques.

Whether you choose a bachelor’s degree, art school, online courses, or community college classes, you’re well on your way to becoming a successful drawing artist. Happy creating!

Freelancing and Self-Employment

When pursuing a career as a professional artist, freelancing and self-employment are common paths. You have the freedom to choose your projects, manage your own business, and make a living from your artistic talents. Let’s dive into what you can expect in terms of income and opportunities.

As a freelance artist, you might work on a variety of gigs such as:

  • Sculpting
  • Private photography
  • Logo design for companies
  • Illustrating children’s books

Your income can vary greatly, as it depends on the type of work, your skills, and the demand for your creations. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for freelance craft and fine artists is $49,960. Keep in mind that this data covers a wide range of artists, not only those in drawing disciplines.

Being self-employed means that you need to be diligent about finding work and clientele. Your earnings will fluctuate based on how successful you are at marketing your skills and services, and how busy you can stay with projects.

Some tips for managing your own business and maximizing your income include:

  • Building a strong portfolio: Showcase your best work and tailor it to the types of clients and industries you want to work with.
  • Networking: Establish connections within the art community, attend events, and engage with potential clients on social media platforms.
  • Setting realistic goals: Determine your desired annual income and divide it into smaller targets for daily, weekly, or monthly sales.

Freelance gigs often involve competing with other artists for a contract. This is where having a unique style or niche can give you an edge over others. Stay on top of industry trends and consider refining your skills or learning new ones to improve your chances of getting hired.

Remember that being a successful freelance or self-employed artist not only involves creating art but also managing and growing your business. From budgeting to marketing, you’ll need to wear many hats.

Stay organized, plan ahead, and always be on the lookout for new opportunities to expand your client base. With persistence, determination, and a great work ethic, you can turn your passion for drawing into a rewarding career!

Artistic Opportunities in Unique Fields

Law Enforcement Agencies

Did you know? Your drawing talent can even help catch criminals. Law enforcement agencies often need forensic sketch artists and forensic artists. They create sketches of suspects based on witness descriptions. Usually, artist salaries in this field can be quite rewarding if you’re looking for a unique career path.

Commercial Artists

Many businesses need skilled artists like you for marketing campaigns, product designs, and more. Lead artists in commercial fields create captivating illustrations that convey their message to the audience. This creative work can offer you financial stability, making it a worthwhile opportunity to explore.

Tattoo Artists

People often seek talented artists to design tattoos that are both personal and memorable. As an established tattoo artist, your income primarily depends on the number of clients and the uniqueness of your tattoo designs. So, honing your craft and building a strong portfolio can attract more customers and increase your earnings.

Public Spaces Artists

Public spaces, such as parks and murals, also provide opportunities for artists like you. Use your skills to create engaging pieces that resonate with the community. This work not only contributes to the beautification of public areas but can also bring you recognition and potential financial benefits.

To sum it up, your artistic abilities can open doors in various fields. Embrace these opportunities to put your drawing talents to good use and achieve both personal fulfillment and financial stability.

Marketing and Selling Artwork

Marketing your artwork effectively is necessary to achieve success in the competitive art world. Engaging with potential art lovers through various channels expands your reach and enhances the chances of selling your creations at a profitable price.

Art galleriesCollaborating with art galleries provides a professional touch to your work and increases its perceived value. Galleries present a great way to expose your art to collectors and other enthusiasts, which may lead to increased sales over time.

Original Artwork: Focus on selling original pieces, as they typically demand higher prices than reproductions. Producing high-quality, unique art establishes you as a skilled artist, which helps in attracting collectors and connoisseurs.

Great Place to Showcase: Art fairs are excellent venues for networking with fellow artists, curators, and collectors. This can help broaden your audience and generate further interest in your work. Participating in these events allows you to interact with your favorite artists and learn valuable insights from their experiences.

Young Artist Opportunities: If you’re a young artist, look for unique opportunities and platforms tailored to emerging talent. These platforms can offer guidance, exposure, and additional resources to help develop your skills and establish your presence in the art world.

Great Way to Connect with Buyers: Utilizing social media and e-commerce platforms lets you directly reach your audience and promotes your work on a global scale. Online sales may offer lower costs and broader access than traditional methods, giving your art a competitive edge.

By staying proactive and exploring these diverse methods for marketing and selling your artwork, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful, profitable career as a drawing artist. Remember, persistence and creativity are key!

Advice for Aspiring Drawing Artists

Ok, so you’re a talented artist, that’s great and you are considering embarking on a career in the visual arts, which is exciting. But let’s talk about some advice to help you on your journey to develop a particular style and secure a steady income.

First, consider finding a mentor or joining an art community. Surrounding yourself with other artists, whether they are family members or new friends, is a good idea. This support system can offer friendly critiques, share experiences, and open doors to new opportunities.

Practice makes perfect, so devote time to refining your craft. Experiment with different styles, techniques, and tools. This dedication helps you develop a unique and captivating style, showcasing your talent and creativity.

​Stay on top of trends and get to the front of them such as the latest illustration trends or find a niche that used to be popular but is now under-served. Become well-known for something, and don’t be a generalist.

Diversify your income streams as this is a good way to ensure a steady source of revenue. Think of selling art prints or original pieces, joining design firms, taking on commissions, or even teaching your skills to others.

Networking is extremely vital in expanding your reach and gaining a reputation as an up-and-coming artist. Attend events, engage in online art forums, and collaborate with other artists. It’s all about making connections and sharing your incredible work with the world.

I cannot stress enough how important networking is for an artist. You cannot do this alone. Be likeable and helpful and others will help you, trust me it is how I got ahead in life. Do not think you are too cool or better than everyone else (even if you are, be humble).

​And how they tell sales people to always be selling, for us artists its always be learning. Never stop, don’t fixate on finding the one thing and sticking with it, expand your skills, get out of your comfort zone, master something and then learn something new.

Remember, building a career in the arts takes time and persistence. Stay focused on your goals and take one step at a time. Keep honing your skills, and trust that your effort and dedication will pay off.

With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to forging your pathway to success as a drawing artist. Best of luck, and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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