Australia (55%) and the United Kingdom (51%) had the highest number of full-time illustrators, while North and South America had the lowest percentage. Asia (37%) had the most part-time illustrators who held another full-time creative job.
Just over 43% of respondents saw an increase in their income in 2019. This is fewer than in 2018, where 51.7% saw an increase in their income over the previous year. On the plus side, an additional 3.5% saw no change in 2019 over 2018 which potentially shows some stability, indicating more respondents had a regular income.
For comparison, we’ve removed tabletop games, corporate and other from 2019 by default as these were only added this year. To see how these change things, click on the greyed out categories.
This year we added an “other” option to the question that asked what type of promotions do our respondents engaged in. 2.3% (just over half of the “other” respondents) told us they promote themselves via conventions. So we’ve included it as part of the self-promotion bar in the chart above. Europe (excluding the UK) had the highest percentage who engaged with social media as a form of promotion, while North America was the most reliant on referrals. Overall this year, repeat and regular clients was the clear winner as far as engagement for the sake of promotion was concerned.
We asked our respondents if they’d ever been asked how many Instagram followers they had as part of a quote on a job. This was the highest in Australia at 6.9%, closely followed by Europe (excluding the UK).
Out of all our respondents, 12.7% said they had lost out on jobs because they didn’t have a big enough social following, with this happening to 7.6% on more than one occasion.
75% of our respondents’ clients were based on the same continents as each other. This was highest in North American at 89%, which may be down to language barriers as only about 25% of US citizens can converse in another language. In continental Europe, multilingualism is generally more common, being closer to 54%, with Luxembourg at 84% according to the 2012 Eurobarometer survey.
A total of 41% of South Americans worked with clients outside of their continent, closely followed by Europe (excluding the UK) at 37%. Most of our respondents’ clients are still based in the United States, but this has dropped 15% since 2018.
The highest rate of agent representation was in Australia and New Zealand at 18% followed by the UK at 14%. South America was the lowest at 7%.
We asked our respondents whether they ever started a job before a contract was agreed. The responses showed 65.8% tended to start on a job before the terms had been formally agreed with 3% always starting the job before signing on the dotted line. Only 34.4% refused to begin a job without an agreement in writing.
We also asked if they include a byline or credit requirement in their contracts when appropriate. Only 45% include this type of clause in their contracts. South America was the most likely to include it, while Africa was the least likely. Along with copyright law, the right to attribution varies from country to country.
Working for free
We didn’t explicitly ask whether respondents had worked on speculative contests or an unpaid test for a potential commission. However excluding charity work and non-commercial work for friends or family, 31% said they had worked for free and would never do it again. 21% said it was a waste of time, but for 15% of our respondents it paid off. Only 23% overall had never worked for free.
We asked the respondents whether they would like to see more courses on business, pricing, licensing and contracts. Most wanted to see more courses on those subjects, but less than half of them would be willing to pay to attend them.
Tools of the trade
With regards to respondents experimenting in a medium outside of their normal skill set, 86% have done so with another 10% just waiting for the opportunity to arise. This gives a strong indication that an overwhelming majority of our respondents are happy too (or are actively looking to) try out new tools given the chance. We’re an adventurous bunch!
Of this year’s 45% who selected “mostly digital” as how they create their work, 9% didn’t consider the cost of software and hardware an acceptable business expense, with an additional 13% being unsure. Out of all our 3564 respondents, 27% had considered using pirated software in the last year with the highest percentages within a continent being 74% and 48% in South America and Asia respectively.
The following chart shows the percentage of respondents who had been pushed into creating digital work rather than using traditional media to speed up their workflow. Overall the most pressure seemed to be on North American respondents to switch to digital creation tools due to losing out or the risk of losing out, on commissions. Europe (excluding the UK) had the highest percentage of artists switching back to traditional methods with no ill effects.
In addition we also asked our respondents if they’d ever been asked to work in a style borrowed from another illustrator. 65% had faced this question at some point from a client or potential client and 25% (884) agreed to work in a borrowed style.
Illustration © 2019 Pete Underhill