Artists and designers are now commanding six-figure salaries

But their earnings are highly dependent on what field they specialize in.
It pays to be into the metaverse.
It pays to be into the metaverse.
Photo: Sergio Flores (Getty Images)
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Here’s further evidence to challenge the myth of the starving artist: A new industry survey from the job matching platform Creatively suggests that designers working for American companies in 2022 are commanding an average wage of $88 per hour or $156,000 a year—around a 40% bump compared to last year’s rates.

“The creative economy continues to grow fast despite increased concerns about the overall economy,” said Jess Weber, Creatively’s chief talent and development officer. “Creatives are naming their price and getting it while dictating their terms of employment.”

Weber’s assessment is based on the firm’s survey of 500 hiring managers from the tech, fashion, media, and advertising industries.

Salary disparities within the creative sector

But there’s a crucial nuance to Creatively’s findings. Because the creative sector encompasses so many fields, the title “creative” is used very broadly—from actors, architects, copywriters, fashion designers, graphic designers, illustrators, make-up artists, videographers, social media producers—and income is highly dependent on one’s specialization.

Creatively's 2022 Hiring Survey
Graphic: Creatively

Web 3, metaverse designers

For instance, designers adept in emerging technologies such as Web 3 and metaverse are earning an average of $312,000 a year. Employers are competing for top talent adept in UX design, animation, digital visualization, programming, and blockchain technology, and are ready to pay them an average of $150 per hour. Video producers and directors, as well as actors, are earning comparable salaries, the research suggests.

On the other end of the salary spectrum, visual artists, singers, copywriters, graphic designers, and editorial directors earn the least, with some only able to bill $25 an hour.

The remote work effect

Prior to the pandemic, earnings also used to be heavily based on one’s location. A top creative director in New York City for instance, might earn $200,000, but holding the same job in Baltimore will only earn one $130,000, according to the the latest salary survey (pdf) by the creative placement agency Aquent. But Creatively’s findings suggest that the rise of work-from-anywhere arrangements is eroding this scale. A majority of companies surveyed have extended remote or hybrid work arrangements to their creative staff. Half of employers also say they’re more willing to hire workers in a fully remote capacity.

For more intel on remote work, check out Quartz’s 2022 Best Companies for Remote Workers list.