Research Outline

Creative Workers: Market Size & Analysis


Provide the market size and an analysis of photographers, Photoshop retouchers, digital artists, and/or creative independent contractors in the top 50 countries globally, or worldwide.
  • Determine the market size of photographers, Photoshop retouchers, digital artists, creative independent contractors, and/or persons that would like to become creative independent contractors.
  • Provide a breakdown of the market size by the top 50 countries globally.
  • If a breakdown of the market size by country is limited, provide the market size of photographers worldwide and determine how many identify as a full-time or part-time photographer.
  • Compile information surrounding the disposal income of the photographer/creative independent contractor demographic.
  • Identify how much income this demographic spends on managing their own business or website.
  • Provide information regarding the marketing budgets of this demographic, and/or how much they are willing to spend on their business to grow and manage their work.

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • The initial round of research indicates that data availability is adequate regarding the market size of photographers, digital/graphic artists, and creative independent contractors in the U.S. and globally.
  • Data is low surrounding the market size of Photoshop retouchers and persons who desire to be creative independent contractors.

Market Size: Photographer & Photography

Industry Report from ResearchandMarkets — Photographic Services Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Impact and Recovery to 2030
  • The 2021 Photographic Global Market Report from ResearchandMarkets estimates the global market size of this industry will grow from $32.92 billion in 2020 to $36.42 billion by the end of 2021. This will represent a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 10.6%.
  • By the year 2025, ResearchandMarkets expects the global market size of photographic services to grow to $44.07 billion at a CAGR of 5%.
  • According to this report, North America alone constitutes 41% of the 2020 global market size, followed by the Asia Pacific region with 29% of the market.
  • This report from ResearchandMarkets is located behind a paywall and is available for purchase starting at $4,000. This report includes an analysis of the industry for 48 countries worldwide in the APAC, Western Europe, North and South America, Middle East, and Africa regions of the world. The segments of the photography industry covered in the report include school photography services, personal photography services, wedding photography services, and other photography services.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • According the BLS, there are approximately 133,500 photographer jobs in the U.S. as of 2019. From 2019-2029, the BLS expects photographer employment to decline by 4%, losing approximately 4,800 jobs.
  • The 2020 median pay of photographers in the U.S. was $41,280 per year, or $19.85 per hour.
  • The BLS website offers a breakdown of employment and wage statistics for photographers in the U.S. on a state-by-state basis, as well as data on the various industries that most photographers in the U.S. are employed in.

Market Size: Creative Independent Contractors

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there is extreme difficulty by government organizations to count how many employees work as gig workers/independent contractors.
  • This is because, "Gig workers could be in contingent or alternative employment arrangements, or both, as measured by BLS...Gig workers may be included in counts of workers who are part-time, self-employed, or hold multiple jobs. But these counts also include workers who are not part of the gig workforce.

Industry Report from IBISWorld — Performers & Creative Artists Industry in the US
  • In the U.S. alone, IBISWorld estimates that there are 1,037,571 performer & creative artist businesses, employing 960,201 persons.
  • The analysis of the performer/creative artist industry from IBISWorld focuses on independent and freelance artists, writers, and performers, not including musical artists.
  • This report from IBISWorld is available for purchase starting at $925. It includes an industry outlook analysis for the U.S. market from 2021-2026, as well as industry trends, drivers, and outlooks.

Market Size: Digital/Graphic Artists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • The BLS estimates that there were 281,500 graphic designer jobs in the U.S. in 2019. Between 2019-2029, BLS expects employment in this industry to decline by 4%, losing approximately 10,700 jobs.
  • The 2020 median pay of graphic designers in the U.S. was $53,380 per year, or $25.66 per hour.

Industry Report from IBISWorld — 2021 Global Graphic Designers Industry
  • The 2021 Global Graphic Designers Industry Report from IBISWorld estimates that there are 391,328 graphic designer businesses globally, employing 507,690 persons worldwide. The report indicates that no single business has more than 5% of the total market.
  • Graphic designers in this report are defined as persons that provide printed/static design services, digital/interactive design services, brand/image/consulting services, and sonstige. The report also includes an analysis of both commercial and independent industry activities.
  • This report from IBISWorld is available for purchase starting at $925 and includes global data on businesses, employment, wages, advertising expenditure, drivers, and other relevant industry data.

Income, Employment, & Spending: Creative Independent Contractors

  • Between 2014-2018, the Urban Institute found that approximately 30% of arts workers in the U.S. were self-employed for their primary jobs, while 70% were employees of other arts businesses.

Desire for Independent Work

  • As of 2019, some 57 million or 35% of Americans have completed freelance work as part of their day job.
  • 63% of executives have reported that they would rather work as independent contractors than in their current positions.
  • In the U.S., 90% of fully-employed consumers report that they would be interested in joining the gig/freelance economy. This compares to 97% of employees in India and Mexico, 80% in France, 75% in Germany and the Netherlands, and 70% in Japan.


  • Within our first hour of research, we were able to identify an array of statistical data points that began to define the total global market sizes of photographers, creative independent contractors, and digital/graphic artists. While in-depth analyses that are broken down by country are primarily located within paid industry reports and thus not accessible from the public domain, many reports often present an overview of their data, offering at least a global market size of these employment industries. Furthermore, because these positions are popular freelance/contractor jobs, many other alternative sources do offer insights and data on these markets.
  • Information surrounding the market size of Photoshop retouchers was not available in the public domain. To be more specific, data was available regarding the market for photo editing software, but no indication was provided on employment or wage statistics in this industry. Early searches indicate that work as a "Photoshop retoucher" may be considered part of the graphic design industry.
  • We were also able to identify a few quantitative insights that define how prominent global consumer interest in general freelance/contract work. Although these data points were not specific to interest in being a creative freelancer, the data proves that demand for freelance work in general is strong on a global scale.
  • With respect to the income and spending habits of creative independent contractors in various fields, we were limited by time constraints to compile more data points. We were able to identify median U.S. salaries from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We also noted that some of the paid industry reports do include an analysis of advertising spend in these positions. It is possible that alternative sources may offer more specific values or insights, but additional research time would be required to determine how much artistic contractors spend make annually, and how much they spend to market their business.
  • Based on the data availability of these jobs and markets, we suggest that further research efforts pivot to analyze the market sizes and wage/spending on a global scale, perhaps broken down my major regions (Africa, Asia and the Pacific (including Australia), Europe and the Middle East, Latin America and North America/U.S.) as opposed to by the top 50 countries.