Why Are Artists Underpaid – The 4 Core Markets


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Key Takeaways

  • There are three core human needs.
    • Psychological needs.
    • Safety needs.
    • Social needs.
  • Within safety needs are personal safety, financial security, and health and wellness.
  • The four core markets are money, health, relationship, and culture (art, dance, music, etc.).
  • Inside human’s basic needs, culture is not the top priority.

The Need For Art

When it comes to human needs, humans have three core needs that work in priority order.

  • Physiological needs: These are the most basic needs that humans require for survival and include:
    • Water: Humans must consume water regularly to stay hydrated and maintain bodily function.
    • Food: Humans require a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals to stay healthy and maintain their bodily functions.
    • Shelter: Humans require a safe and secure place to live, which protects them from the elements and provides a sense of privacy and security.
    • Sleep: Humans require adequate sleep to function properly and maintain their physical and mental health.
  • Safety needs: Once the physiological needs are met, humans require safety and security, including:
    • Personal safety: Humans require protection from physical harm, violence, and abuse.
    • Financial security: Humans require a certain level of financial stability to meet their basic needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare.
    • Health and wellness: Humans require access to healthcare, medication, and other treatments to maintain their physical and mental well-being.
  • Social needs: Once the physiological and safety needs are met, humans require social connection and community, including:
    • Relationships: Humans require meaningful relationships with others, such as family, friends, and romantic partners.
    • Community: Humans require a sense of belonging and connection to a larger community, such as a cultural or religious group.
    • Purpose: Humans require a sense of purpose and meaning in life, such as through work, hobbies, or other meaningful pursuits.

When it comes to art, humans do not have that as a priority to survive. However, humans do need money to enjoy life. Thus, buying art comes after all three core needs are met.

The 4 Core Markets

The four core markets are money, health, relationship, and culture (art, dance, music, etc.). Culture, unfortunately, is the least paid area when it comes to making money worldwide. It all traces back to the need for art. Humans need financial security (job, investing, sales and marketing, etc.), health and wellness (fitness, weight lifting, etc.), and relationships (love, dating, etc.).

“If you look closely, you’ll find that almost all expert businesses are based on one of three core markets: health, wealth, or relationships.” “Inside these three core markets are multiple submarkets.”

Brunson (founder of Clickfunnels and One Funnel Away Challenge), Expert Secrets, 10
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It’s not that art isn’t valuable or culture isn’t appreciated. When it comes to achieving one of the three core needs, culture isn’t a priority. Buying art is about a person’s willingness and ability.

Putting A Price On Art

Artists are paid so little because it’s very difficult to put value on art. We cannot objectively say art is worth a specific amount of money. Often people paying for artwork or an artist’s services neglect to realize just how much time goes into creating art. Because of this oversight, artists aren’t paid the amount they should be.

Often artists are paid by the project and not by the hour. As artists, it’s difficult to separate your passion for art and the fact that this is your job, so you’ll spend more time on a project than it’s worth when looking at it from a strictly financial perspective.

Art Is A Passion

Artists spend so much time on their passion projects because they want to send work out into the world that isn’t just great but as close to perfect as they can possibly make it.

The problem is, creating something of truly outstanding quality takes time. Artists who are paid by the project, and not by the hour, will soon realize that the time they’ve spent on a project has probably resulted in them earning a fairly poor amount of money when they look at how much they have earned per hour.

People coming into this field with dreams of becoming a millionaire are unrealistic. Art isn’t about earning lots of money, although it should be about earning more money than you are earning right now because your time and your skills are valuable.

Still, never underestimate your worth as an artist. Just because it is a passion doesn’t mean you should settle for terrible pay.

Besides, art is a passion for both the artist and the buyer, so make sure they’re paying a reasonable rate for receiving something they’ll love too.

Ikigai And Art

In Japanese culture, there is a concept that is known as Ikigai. Translated to English, this means “a reason for being.”

Essentially, Ikigai is all about finding your reason for living, the very thing that gives you purpose and makes you feel you are spending your time in a worthwhile way. One of the best ways to meet the concept of Ikigai is through art.

In order to address the concept of Ikigai, you must satisfy these four criteria:

  • Something you love
  • Something you can be paid for
  • Something the world needs
  • Something you’re good at

If you imagine those four things overlapping, in the center is Ikigai. The problem is that Ikigai is all about what gives your life purpose, not necessarily what earns you the most money.

Art provides you with wealth in other areas besides money, though, and the point of Ikigai is that these areas of wealth are far more important than money anyway.

Art feeds the creative soul. It gives your life meaning, and it makes you feel fulfilled. The fact that you’re making any money, even small amounts, is wonderful when you look at everything else art gives you too!

When thinking about Ikigai and the concepts of something you can be paid for and something the world needs, you can quickly see that art isn’t there. 

While the world needs art, the world needs more health. While you can be paid for art, think about how much you can be paid by giving stock investing advice to people wanting to invest in stocks. 

You will notice how art is there, but not in the same sense as people wanting to get healthier or wealthier. Thus art is not as valued in the world as health, relationships, and money.

Art Is Not Monetarily Valued

Leading on from the reason you do art, there’s also the issue that art is not monetarily valued. Let’s take investing, for example. If you were a real estate investor, you could forecast how much you could earn from a project by the time you renovated it and sold it.

It might not always be 100% accurate, but there would be a general trend you would know, so you could offer a pretty close estimate. 

Art isn’t something you can objectively look at and say how much it will be worth in a year, five years, or ten. From the buyer’s point of view, they are purchasing something with no way to tell how much they might sell it for in the future.

Of course, there’s an argument to be had about art is a passion, so they should surely want to keep it, but from a strictly financial perspective, you can understand why buyers are more hesitant to part with their cash for artwork.

It isn’t fair, we can all agree on that, but it is just how it works.



Digital Artist

I’m a digital artist who is passionate about anime and manga art. My true artist journey pretty much started with CTRL+Z. When I experienced that and the limitless color choices and the number of tools I could use with art software, I was sold. Drawing digital anime art is the thing that makes me happy among eating cheeseburgers in between veggie meals.

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