Initial Results from Xanadu Gallery’s 2013 State of the Art Survey

Xanadu Gallery’s second annual State of the Art Survey has just closed and we have begun tabulating the result. We would like to thank all of the 1,155 artists who participated (almost a 10% increase over last year).  This year we can look at the responses to the questions, and we can compare them to last year’s results, which helps us begin to see long-term trends.

As always, it bears mention that our surveys are intended to be an informal check of the pulse of the art market for artists. The survey is not scientific – the survey group is voluntary,  not randomized, and we’re not statisticians – but we feel the data obtained gives a good general sense of the art market.



We had a broad, geographically diverse group of artists participate in this year’s survey. While most respondents were inside the U.S., we had international participants as well.

Pacific U.S. 18.3% 202
Mountain States U.S. 12.9% 142
Midwest U.S. 16.6% 183
East Coast U.S. 20.2% 222
Southern States U.S. 16.3% 179
New England U.S. 5.0% 55
Canada 7.8% 86
Mexico 0.0% 0
Central America 0.0% 0
South America 0.2% 2
Europe 2.2% 24
Australia 0.5% 6
Other 69


We also had artists from many media participate, though, once again, a majority of respondents were painters.

Professional Engagement

47 percent of our respondents listed themselves as part-time artists. 44 percent stated that they were full-time, but delving deeper into this number reveals that of those who listed themselves as full-time, 44.9% were producing fewer than 30 pieces per year and 38.7% were selling less than $10,000 worth of work per year. This would indicate that many self-reported full-time artists truly are “starving” or that they have a partner, spouse, or some other independent source of support. In a later post, we will look at this question from another perspective to see how many highly productive and high-selling artists are engaged full-time in their work.


Selling art isn’t easy, and our survey finds that most participants are struggling to gain traction with their sales. If you find yourself in this position, know that you are not alone, but also know that there are artists out there who have built a following for their work and are successfully selling.

 Sales Trends

This year, 43% of respondents reported that their sales were up over the previous year, and 28% indicated that sales held steady. 29% reported that sales were down. Comparing these results to last year’s responses when we found that 40% increased sales over the previous year, 26% held steady and 34% experienced a decrease, it would appear that the market is recovering and more artists are seeing sales growth. This reflects what we’ve seen in the gallery where our art sales (including online sales) were up by nearly a third year-over-year.




Marketing Efforts

This year we again asked where artists would be putting their marketing efforts in the coming year. This time around we permitted respondents to select all of the efforts they would be undertaking. Nearly 3/4 of the respondents reported that they would be participating in art shows and festivals, while 68% said they would pursue further gallery representation.

We also asked how much artists are investing in advertising.


Gallery Representation

As a gallery, we’re always interested to see how many artists are showing in galleries, and of those represented by galleries, how many galleries they are showing in. In a forthcoming post we’ll delve deeper into this question to tease out how successful gallery artists are.

Perception of the Market

Once again we asked about artists’ perception of the health of the general market, and while the results improved somewhat over last year (10% more respondents think the market is improving), there is still a fair amount of pessimism about the near-future of the art market.

2013 result

2012 result


Outlook for Personal Sales

Again we found that artists are generally more pessimistic about the broad market than they are about their own success. When asked whether their own sales would rise, hold steady or decline, 70% felt their own sales would increase in 2013. This is 5% better than last year.

In our Next Post

This post gave you a general overview of the responses we received to the survey. Our next post will start to parse the details further, looking at what successful artists are doing to generate success and how marketing impacts sales.


Share Your Thoughts

Did the results of the Xanadu Gallery’s State of the Art Survey surprise you in any way? Do you have thoughts or questions about the survey? Leave your comments below.

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of Dad was an Artist | A Survivor's Story and best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook


  1. What I have been finding out is there are lot of my friends and family who would like to buy my work, but it cost to much for them. I’m willing to make arrangements, but budgets are cut pretty close so there isn’t much room for luxuary items like art. I have been net working like crazy of Facebook and getting my name and work out in cyber space as much as possible. I’m hoping something will come if it. The journey continues.

  2. Very interesting survey! I’m happy to see that many artists share my optimism that 2013 will be a better year for us. I was also struck by how few artists are “making it” without a lot of gallery representation.
    Thanks for pulling this together!

  3. Because the market varies so much among various mediums, it is less useful to look at dollar amounts. As a potter, I may make as much in a successful weekend of sales as a painter does with a single transaction. Also, I noticed that there was not a category for pottery, even though many of us — including me — do art, not strictly functional crafts.

  4. As a Canadian I find the attitude towards fine arts is a little different than the American people. Don’t get me wrong ,they love art but don’t think its as important as a good paying job and that art should come second. I find when they decide to make a purchase its for a very good reason, not so much as an investment.

  5. Thanks for the survey results! It is nice to see that people are still optimistic overall. One thing that I noticed when completing the survey, was there really wasn’t a category for artists who do not have another job, but have retired from a former occupation and now create art full-time or part-time. They may not be making a real living from that, but have other sources of income outside of another job. It would be interesting to see how many artists fall into that category in next year’s survey.

  6. After attending your seminar last January in Tucson, I made a concerted effort to increase my inventory, and to participate more actively in the art sector. While my sales were dismal last year, my optimism remains high. I am trying to set my daily schedule not only for producing work but for marketing. Marketing is my downfall. Your webinars are invaluable to me. Hopefully, I will have more success in 2013. Thanks so much, Jason.

  7. Found this survey extremely informative. Very surprised how little money spent in advertisement and how few people pursue gallery representation. I, too, experienced a significant increase in sales in 2012. Doing galleries, studio openings, festivals, major art fairs, and commissions. If we work it like if we had a nine to five job 7 days a weeks there is for sure money to be had for all of us who put in the effort. No doubt. A business plan every year has help me get there.

  8. It was an excellent survey. I was a little embarrassed to find myself included in the more pessimistic side of the pie charts for sales last year and amount of art produced, and whether or not the market was improving. I live in the country in central Michigan. It shouldn’t make a difference where an artist lives, but considering the paucity of both gallery availability, and the (seeming) disinterest in art among the local population, it’s been frustrating the last few years. I have so wanted to support art in my local communities, and have done so, but I find little support of (we artists) among the community. I don’t wish to move, but I’m fighting a losing battle sometimes on how to reach, and how to improve the art awareness in the area. My market almost Must be online, for me to make sales. ((I’d like to hear more information about that sometime, if you would consider another webinar!) Thanks for all your work.

  9. Interesting. I agree that mixed media should have its own segment. I’m glad to see that Photography and Digital Art are included, as so many galleries purport that neither is not real art (read: that sells). It’s a matter of perception and galleries are the exemplars.

  10. Jason,
    Thanks again for posting the survey and sharing! 2011 was great with 2012 significantly better! Glad to see other folks are seeing this as well. Here is to a fantastic & artful 2013 already off to a great pace! (If things continue at this pace, I’ll be looking to add staff and continue to help the economy out!)

    John Harrison Photography
    Fine Art Nature and Landscape Images

  11. Thank you so much for doing this survey. It’s hard for artists to get an overall picture of how our market is doing because we are often isolated from each other in our professional practice and there is no overriding agency or organization looking after our common interests.
    The information provided in the last two year gives me encouragement that economic conditions are improving and that there is a fair chance we will all be improving sales. Again, thank you.

  12. Interesting results. Nice to see it… I’m a full time professional artist, most of my works I’m selling through local auction website,… I’m selling them cheap, but at the end of month they pay my bills, and I’m working and improving my skills.
    Thank you.

  13. It’s helpful to see a survey like this. At least I feel like I’m not alone. As a single, self-employed, senior citizen, artist – I find it difficult to balance my art work, teaching, family, home, finances, and still make time for the promotional aspects of selling my art. Any thoughts on this? Anyone?

  14. I have to admit I didn’t have time to fill out the survey, but I am finding the results interesting to read, and am also curious as to the wording of the questions. I very much appreciate your doing these surveys, and like to think I am doing well with my art, and I would also be interested in knowing things like “average price of paintings sold” and “who else lives in and supports your household” kinds of things…
    And I am also curious as to training and experience of our fellow artists-
    thank you!

  15. I found the survey interesting but I’m not one of those optimistic about 2013. I don’t think people are really knowledgeable how bad the economy is, the increase taxes, unemployment etc. that all influence the ability of people to spend money as freely as they would like. The news media for the most part are not reporting the real situation. No one wants to cut back spending including me but I can’t afford to spend more than I earn. I’ve cut back on entry fees, travel , etc. and find I’m already thinking about it this summer when signing up for art fairs, or entry fees for juried shows. I’ve had to cut back with my web site designer too. I hope I’m wrong but I don’t see much positive signs of recovery and see how the country is so split with “the one promising” to be transparent and bringing people together. I also agree somewhat with Chuck Staley as classifications. I’m an etcher/printmaker and not really a category I fit into.

  16. Thanks for the survey. It would be interesting to see a comparison with other retail categories, especially those targeting the 24 to 49 years age group,a demographic I am endeavouring to reach. Thanks, Dave Beckett

  17. an interesting question for the future might be………..
    has your direction insofar and materials utilized, subject matter or presentation changed in anyway over the last 12 months.
    if there has been a change have your results improved,..declined or about the same…?

  18. Glad to see that my situation is reflected in your results. I am starting to have my doubts about the value of social online media. Maybe not worth the effort. Going back to galleries and direct sales and contacts.
    Of course still have a website and blog.

  19. Jason, thank you for sharing the results with us. I’m optimistic that 2013 will be a better year for art sales, and plan to increase my marketing and presence to help make it so. I’ll be trying some new tactics this year, including more social media involvement, indoor art shows, teaching workshops, etc.

  20. The survey is interesting information to have. If there any way to go one step further and find out how much costs of marketing related to sales. I’d like to know how much it costs to “prime the pump” of just getting your work seen and known as well as creating sells. And I’d like to know how much artists invest in materials for the year, related to sales.

    My most effective sales tool has been interior designers. They stop by the studio and say “I’ll take this, this and this. I have a client these would fit right into her project”. I just wish I knew a lot more of them. For me, they have been a lot easier to reach than galleries. (I live in an area 100 miles from the nearest commercial gallery).

  21. I appreciate your helpful survey. It will be interesting to learn the return on investment regarding advertising dollars spent. It will also be interesting to learn which media were successful, both in terms of number of artworks produced and numbers sold.

  22. Hi,

    Your survey confirms my opinion that it is very difficult to get into galleries. Your chart shows that most artists are in none, one or two. It is very important not only to be in galleries for sales but also for exposure.

    Thanks for the info.

  23. It’s comforting to know we are not alone in our struggles. I really appreciate the work you do and the help you have provided for artists. I am still finding the majority of my sales result from my own efforts and from a person getting to know me, like a piece, and buy it because of the personal connection I have established with them. Learning how other artists go about selling and the community support of fellow artists has helped quite a bit. I find I need to be a computer expert, a marketing expert, a fantastic sales person, a carpenter (can’t afford frameshops), etc., etc., etc. Never mind producing the work…hopefully that continues to run smoothly. I continue to research what people do buy; what does the public want??? Oh, and the matter of pricing the work. I’m still not sure about that.

  24. This is good information. I iplan to keep this report and will be interested in doing a similar one next year. Not only to compare overall results but also to monitor my growth through the various categories.

  25. This is such useful information. I will be very interested to see the details regarding number of works produced vs sales, as well as, gallery representation vs sales and how the two are interrelated. These results will impact my strategies for improving my 2013 sales.

  26. I was surprised and delighted to see the results of your survey. I had such a negative attitude towards the entire art scene – not only in Canada, but world-wide. I have found that people – especially the younger crowd – will gladly spend $1000 on the latest electronic gadget, but wouldn’t consider even taking the time to go to a gallery. I used to have over 20 galleries selling my reproductions, but most have closed down in the last couple of years. The print market had definetly deteriorated. When I spend 600 hours on producing a painting, the only way I can make it as a professionl artist is to sell reproductions. My art cards seem to be still selling. Luckily I have since retired I can live on my pensions.

  27. Thank you for printing these results, as I was feeling a lack of progress in my own career. I did not fill out your survey, but the results were very interesting. I now feel much better as I am realize I am doing better than I thought! My sales nearly tripled in 2012 and I produced over a hundred pieces last year. My sales are through galleries and interior design firms, which I prefer as they do their own marketing. No, I am not yet supporting myself in the manner to which I am accustomed. . . but I will 🙂

  28. it’s a very interesting survey…altho , to me it seems almost impossible to survey this kind of thing…so many different aspects and variables to take into consideration. it’s like doing a survey with lawyers…there are just too many different areas within law. for example you have a full time artist, but if they have a spouse supporting them are they truly working as hard to make it as someone without financial support? you have a potter going to craft fairs comparing sales of a painter who has gallery representation. and i’m sure gallery representation in New York is different than gallery representation in New Mexico.

    ultimately, you have to assess your individual goals and expectations, and don’t compare you or your art against anyone else…you do not know what their situation is or what their goals are. everyone has their own definition of what success is…you just have to figure out yours and then work to achieve it. never mind anyone else…that’s just crazy making!!

  29. This is so fun. I’m thrilled to see that 10% (115 of the 1155 respondents) make over 50K. And a full 19% (219) make what I would call a decent living from their art at over 25K. I’m planning to be in that group by 2014!
    I’m eager to see how their success correlates with their productivity and with their gallery representation.

    I, too, think there’s a missing piece of data in the question, “How professionally engaged are you in your art?” I am a full-time professional artist and 73% of my income comes from sales of my art (I just figured that out). However, I also earn income from teaching workshops, judging shows, and winning awards. I consider these activities to be part of my professional art career–not “another job/career to help make ends meet.” So, while my art sales look like I may be starving or have outside sources of income, I consider it all a part of a beautifully working art career (albeit one I am working to improve!), one that has been supporting my whole family.

    Thank you for this fascinating and important effort, Jason!

  30. Thanks very much for conducting this survey. We participate annually and look at the results carefully.

    One request: could you have a Southwest U.S. region next year, please? This year it was unclear where artists in this region should indicate they reside.

    Meanwhile, again, many, many thanks for collecting and sharing this important information.

  31. Very insightful. For the past 2 years, I have been creating a collection of fine art to launch this year. I am switching from the decorative art market which I’ve been in for 14 years to fine art, and I’ve been collecting all the information I can. I’m determined to remain hopeful and positive in the face of the mixed data.

  32. Thank you for the survey Jason. I would be interested to know, of the artists who are supporting themselves completely through sales of their art, what type of art is it that is selling? What is the public buying i.e. Western art? Traditional art? Abstract? Mixed Media? Portraiture? Then, I would be interested to know what is the top selling medium i.e. Oil on canvas? Watercolor? etc. Next I then would be interested to see what genre is in the top ten sales ranking. I feel this information would be helpful to those of us who are not as successful, to maybe change course towards what is selling in order to become for successful. And lastly, what is the median price range the public is paying for art these days, which would be helpful to know in pricing our work. Thanks.

  33. Thank you, Jason, for all the effort you put into this annual survey. The data is useful and appreciated. As a professional artist my greater interest is inthe surveying of art buyers. Perhaps at some point you might consider developing a survey to deliver buyer data (demographics, what marketing efforts entice them to buy, what percent buy from galleries, online, shows, etc, how much do they spend per year on art for how many pieces, etc). Again thank you for conducting the artist survey. Much appreciated.

  34. Great survey! Thanks Jason for putting this together; it gives me perspective. One aspect of professional art career which I know a lot of other full timers use to complement gallery sales is an art/workshop teaching income. Might be interesting to know how that figures in to other artists’ incomes: it makes up about half of mine.

  35. It was an interesting selection of questions. I found the pie chart format very difficult to read – words were too small, and color contrast too dark. Pretty, though maybe an example of beauty chosen over functionality.

  36. I have to agree with Dana Feagin about categorizing artists who had another career first. After retiring from corporate America, I am now able to pursue my art full-time, but I certainly couldn’t do it if I hadn’t worked for the same company for 35 years. I couldn’t make a living with my art, but I still love doing it. My friends envy me.

  37. You’ve done a lot of work to provide this, and I appreciate it. Even though it’s not scientific methodology, it still offers an insight into basics of the art business, and that’s all anyone can reasonably ask for.

    It is well to keep in mind that people will only buy that which they like. No one can sell art. It is purchased. We must approach our efforts as putting our work in a position to be bought. Not to be sold. Big difference. One can do things to enhance a potential purchase as is done in the automobile business or real estate business, but in the end there are no sales, there are only purchases.

    Having been in Marketing and Advertising for more than 35 years, beginning as a commercial artist, as we were known back then, I would be keenly interested in the age demographics of the sales figures. Normally, although nothing is “normal” anymore, I would suspect that most buyers of art are over 35, maybe over 45, with the larger disposable incomes that usually accompany the maturing of one in a career.

    This is only generalizing, but I’m almost certain that young people trying to begin their lives and careers are the least likely to spend their money on the luxury of art. No matter how necessary we think art is to life, etc., collecting art is a luxury, and money is the determining factor. Therefore, based on experience in marketing, targeting the younger market is futile for the most part.

    Having a presence on the internet is absolutely necessary, even if most sales are made personally and one on one. Gallery representation is very important, but even so, a prospective buyer is only able to see a small portion of one’s work in a gallery. A website gives one the opportunity to have their whole body of work, their portfolio, available for their prospect to see. This generates respect and credibility for the artist.

    Using social websites like Face Book and so on, are good for exposure, but since most of the participants in social networking are in younger age groups, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be in my opinion. However, a portion of the social network users are over 45, and many of them have the disposable income to buy. So it’s a matter of numbers of exposures, just like advertising. With enough frequency of viewing, one can reach a target market.

    Marketing must occur on multiple fronts, and that requires time away from one’s work. Frustrating but a fact. Our only answer is exposure to lots and lots of prospective buyers. Keeping in mind that only a segment of those exposed can actually buy.

    It’s not easy. But, look on the bright side. If it were easy, then anyone could do it.

  38. I disagree with Douglas Kelly when he says nobody can sell art, it is purchased. Actually, I think a lot of art is “sold” all one has to do is look at art magazines to see this. People not only buy the art but they buy the artist. One of the most overlooked sales tools is selling oneself, I have sold a few paintings in the past that were so bad it’s embarrassing. Also I know of someone who produces world class paintings that sell relatively slow, because the artist is not outgoing or personable. I went to a presentation given by an art broker, several years ago, who sells 6 figure paintings with phone calls. He is one heck of a good salesman! He doesn’t even have a gallery!

  39. Thanks for putting this survey out there. I find it interesting that most of the artists surveyed are painters. That tells me that people in the painting career path are looking for support and information, more than anyone else. It has taken me a long time to accept it, but most people don’t NEED a painting (as reinforced by the comment above). The trick (and I am still learning) is to create a niche and community centered on your artwork. This is no small feat, but can certainly be made easier through advertising and marketing–which appears to be minimal in this group of data. It is not easy to toot your own horn, but if you want to do what you love, there is no other way. Toot Toot. Thanks Red Dot Blog.

  40. I have to agree with Dannine; create a community and a following for your work. During the local artists’ studio tour, one lady had sent out tons of emails (nicely done and easy to understand). She had a lot of people at her studio and sold work that day. I’m following her example of sending out notices on a monthly basis as to where my work is showing and what I’m doing. I’ve been told if I were in New York, I’d do well. Southwwest is often geared to typical western art for decorative purposes. I’m involved in educating the public. The average person is shocked to learn that the gallery takes 50%, or a lot more, of the sale. I’d be interested in knowing who buys, what they buy, and where they live. Color plays out as well. I notice reds, yellows selling and the red, yellow, blue thing always.

  41. The survey was interesting in that it was more upbeat than I’d expected. I look around me and see many people looking at art, then the price, and shaking their heads. Very few people can afford to pay a living wage to artists for their works.

    Having a stained and fused glass studio with about $50K in inventory of raw materials, and no hope of sales where I’ve moved, I decided to paint, since it took less time and cost less in materials to produce a painting. Still, I’ve sold ONE. In 4 yrs.

    Some of it is where I’ve relocated; Oregon has had a long time problem with low income and no employment. I’m committed to beginning a website and blog and joining an artist website to at least get exposure for my works. However, I’m glad my husband has a good job. (I’ve always worked, until 2002, when my health made retiring a good idea.) This extended ‘bad business climate’ is becoming the norm, unfortunately. At my age, it may be too late to be able to sell enough work to pay any bill, let alone a house payment, waiting for an burgeoning economy in which to sell any artworks.

    PS. For local sales, those that are photographic in quality, whether paintings or photos, make up the great majority of sales. (and this includes decals on pendants, mugs, and carry bags.)

  42. Loved looking at the numbers! I am a part-time artist but take it very serious! I was intrigued by the number of paintings the “full time” painters actually produced! I too would like to see a better breakdown of some statistics…maybe have similar surveys but separating the mediums…to get more real figures. One question I wondered was how many full time artists are making possibly half of their income by teaching workshops? Now that would be interesting to break down what the income categories are doing….
    As you have mentioned in your book, podcast and blog, we artists have to get more involved in the marketing. That whole end of things has changed with technology. We have to think outside the box. As a result, I have also been considering doing painting workshops. In my mind, this would still be part of my art income.
    I would love to learn more about the details on what the profitable painters are doing to get there. Like, are they doing self promoting? in a gallery? doing workshops?on line sales? age?
    Thanks for doing all the leg work Jason!

  43. Seeing this survey gave me insight as to what medium I should give more attention to. I am quite sad that stone sculpture
    does not seem to sell well. Jewelry does not seem to sell well unless it is very high end, or very low priced. This gives me
    quite a lot to think about.
    Thank you.

  44. I was glad to see the results of the poll. I have already produced more this year than I did at this time last year. I am no longer doing “ginormous” pieces. I am doing small pieces, too. Faster to make, and a smaller price tag. Oops. Accentuating the value, of course. I am going to be in a gallery show, and I have “rented” a whole wall in another gallery for the summer. Summer, being bad for business in Arizona, but in a good, upscale neighborhood. Then I had the opportunity to get into another Open Studio Tour next month. In 2012 my goal was production. This year my goal is marketing and exposure. I hope that when I take your poll for next year, I will be in the ranks of “More Successful”. Thanks, Jason.

  45. I would be interested in what sells, such as seascapes, still life, etc. What media is most often sold?
    Are there topics or subjectmatter that create more sales in galleries such as political, current popular personalities, etc.?

  46. Looks like good info, but I couldn’t read lettering inside your color pie charts. I suggest larger type and perhaps lighter colors to make black lettering easier to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *