Majority of illustrators still don’t earn enough to live from - and it's affecting their mental health, new survey shows


Composite of images by Ben the Illustrator for the 2nd Annual Illustrator’s Survey

A majority of illustrators say they don’t earn a suitable salary to live 'sustainably' and it's causing anxiety according to a new survey conducted and published by Ben O’Brien, aka Ben the Illustrator.

More and more opportunities are booming for illustrators in the business - yet it seems that isn't paying off in terms of salary, according to the 2nd Annual Illustrator’s Survey.

Conducted by DA friend and vector artist in his own right Ben 'The Illustrator' O’Brien, this year's survey has found that over 70 percent of respondents don't earn enough to live sustainably, an increase on last year's results.

After getting in touch with 1,443 illustrators worldwide – with an almost even split between men and women, the latter in the majority at 51 percent  – Ben’s survey reveals that 73 percent of illustrators don't earn enough money to live sustainably from, with 41 percent earning under £10,000 per annum (although it should be noted that 52 percent of respondents aren't working as illustrators full time).

Some of the problems may stem from creatives not knowing their worth when dealing with clients, 57 percent in total saying they're not confident when estimating fees for them.

While the AOI may have pulled its pricing advice for members recently, that was only in the early months of this year, meaning illustrators seem to be unaware of resources that can aid them when researching a fair fee.


Ben the Illustrator

In the same way money problems haven't improved from last year, mental health issues remain a blight on the industry, with 54 percent of illustrators believing the community should discuss more about mental health support regarding their financial issues, while 74 percent say they have anxiety or confidence issues effecting their career. Clearly a link then between money and mental health.

We discussed these problems last year in great detail on Digital Arts, and are heartened to see a drop of five percent suffering from such anxiety. To decrease the numbers even further, a solution stares us in the face with 60 percent of those surveyed saying they would like to regularly meet up with other illustrators.

We all know the mental ailments that come with feeling alienated, so it's worth promoting regular meetup events like Yo Illo and Chillustrators where illustrators can interact and build more of a community. These events are't just in London, so do keep an eye out online for your nearest gathering.

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