Fascinating and sobering, from Bureau of Labor Statistics on the Profession of Art. I especially love the definitions.
"Artists held about 221,900 jobs in 2008. About 60 percent were self-employed. Employment was distributed as follows:
Art directors 84,200
Multimedia artists and animators 79,000
Fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators 23,600
Craft artists 13,600
Artists and related workers, all other 21,500
For better or worse, artists are key culture producers. Noted: Lawyers held about 759,200 jobs in 2008. In other words, there are 33 attorneys for every fine artist.
Artists create art to communicate ideas, thoughts, or feelings. They use a variety of methods—painting, sculpting, or illustration—and an assortment of materials, including oils, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, pencils, pen and ink, plaster, clay, and computers. Artists' works may be realistic, stylized, or abstract and may depict objects, people, nature, or events.
Fine artists typically display their work in museums, commercial art galleries, corporate collections, and private homes. Some of their artwork may be commissioned (done on request from clients), but most is sold by the artist or through private art galleries or dealers. The gallery and the artist predetermine how much each will earn from the sale. Only the most successful fine artists are able to support themselves solely through the sale of their works. Most fine artists have at least one other job to support their art careers. Some work in museums or art galleries as fine-arts directors or as curators, planning and setting up art exhibits. A few artists work as art critics for newspapers or magazines or as consultants to foundations or institutional collectors. Other artists teach art classes or conduct workshops in schools or in their own studios. Some artists also hold full-time or part-time jobs unrelated to art and pursue fine art as a hobby or second career.
Usually, fine artists specialize in one or two art forms, such as painting, illustrating, sketching, sculpting, printmaking, and restoring. Painters, illustrators, cartoonists, and sketch artists work with two-dimensional art forms, using shading, perspective, and color to produce realistic scenes or abstractions.