There are approximately 280 million people in the US today. Of these 2 million are said tobe artists. This means that there is one artist for every 140 people.There are 5400 galleries, give or take a few, in the US. This means that there are 38,000artists per gallery.
Poetry magazine receives 80,000 submissions a year. A commercial gallery in Florida--one of the 8% that accept unsolicited submissions--receives 500 a month, or 6,000 a year.The average size of a gallery roster can range from ten--unusually small, to fifty orsixty. If the average roster is 25, that means that 135,000 artists are represented commercially; it does not necessarily follow that they can sustain themselves as a consequence,
as there are any number of degrees of commercial success and critical validation from hobby to cult status to big bucks.
The number of artists who are able to sustain a career for more than a decade?Unknown
The number of artists who are entirely deluded as to their talent?A matter of opinion.
The number of artists who have more than one idea? Fewer than the number who are shown.
The ratio of the talented to the commercially aggressive? Impossible to ascertain.
The degree to which the world loses when an artist gives up?Impossible to reckon; not every suicide is Van Gogh.
A number of younger artists brought their work to me when I was at the studio. They wanted my opinion. No, they wanted my validation, and I didn't see a blessed one who did not seem to me prey to delusion. However, this is by no means a final judgment,nor did I make it so. If someone brings their work to you then the obligation is to help them take the next step insofar as you can perceive it, not to tell them to stop,though that might be a temptation. Would I have recognized Cezanne in 1870? I doubt it.
From OF BEING NUMEROUS by George Oppen:
So that I will exist, find my navel
So that it will exist, find my nipples
So that they will exist, find every hair
Of my belly, I am good (or I am bad),
'...he who will not work shall not eat,
and only he who is troubled shall find rest,
and only he who descends into the nether world shall
rescue his beloved,
and only he who unsheathes his knife shall be given
Isaac again. He who will not work shall not eat...
but he who will work shall give birth to his own father.'