Work and Life of Artists – Data Collection

Research project New Economies of Artistic Labour, University of Turku / Kone Foundation (2020-2024)

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Overview and aims

This survey aims at collecting data on the work and everyday life of artists. We are interested in artists’ own, free-format accounts regarding their work and everyday life. Especially, we are interested in different ways and terms in which artists themselves describe their work and income (or lack thereof) and the relation of these to the norms of working life, entrepreneurship, and grant funding, and to how unemployment or social benefits connect to artistic labour and such other jobs that artists may do alongside making art.

The data gathered aims to give a voice to the actual complex experiences of artists. Hence, our goals are different from mainly questionnaire-based previous research. More specifically, we are also interested in how artists’ different work projects and life situations overlap; the education and hobbies of artists; and the way they maintain and develop their professional skills. Based on the artists’ accounts and other research data gathered, we will formulate concrete policy recommendations etc. to improve artists’ position in employment and social security services.

Who can participate?

In this survey, artistic labour is defined broadly so that it covers everything from artistic professions (actor, orchestral musician, etc.) to traditional (painter, writer, etc.) and newer forms of art (media art, conceptual art, environmental art, community art, cartoonists etc.). Activities in different subcultures that create something new also count as forms of artistic labour. These range, for example, from punk to electronic art music, crafts and design, and from digital communities to different “street cultures”. Anyone who identifies as an artist and looks to earn a living either entirely or in part by making art is more than welcome to participate in the survey.

Our data collection follows the code of conduct of The Finnish National Board on Research Integrity (TENK). This code doesn’t allow research participants to be paid, as paying them would compromise the independence and anonymity of their answers.

What kind of data are we collecting?

We want to give artistic workers a chance to tell about their personal experiences in their own words. We are collecting broad, diverse, and multipurpose interview data and audio or written narratives produced by artists. All data will be converted into texts. The data will be anonymous so that the respondents cannot be identified. In addition to the texts, we will collect background information about the respondents. This will provide the researchers with general data on the respondents’ income level, education, and subsistence. If they wish, the respondents can choose to participate in future research interviews by providing their contact details.

How to submit your stories?

The story can be submitted as a text or a recording (more information about easily available recording tools: iPhone, Mac, Android, Windows). Your narrative can deal with your current situation or a specific stage of your artistic career. You can tell us about your career path as an artist or focus on a particular stage of your career. Please choose the style of your narrative and discuss as many of the themes related to our research as you see fit.

What will the data be used for?

The data will be used by the New Economies of Artistic Labour research project. It will be analysed by using a variety of qualitative methods, and the results of analysis will appear in scientific publications both in Finland and internationally. These publications will be used to formulate policy recommendations on artistic work for politicians and labour market administrators in Finland. The results will also be reported in the media, for example through interviews, and by the science communicators of the research project.

All digital data are stored in secure platforms provided by the IT-services of the University of Turku. Researchers can later access the data through the Finnish Social Science Data Archive. Granting permission for the storage of the data in this archive is optional.

About the research project

New Economies of Artistic Labour – from Entrepreneurship to Sustainable Collectives is a multidisciplinary research project that maps and analyses the changing forms of artists’ work in contemporary Finland. We are especially interested in the often unusual role of artists in the labour market; artistic entrepreneurship; and the various collective ways of working and living as an artist. The project is hosted by the University of Turku and funded by the Kone Foundation (2020–2024). The project is led by Katve-Kaisa Kontturi and Milla Tiainen. The data collection is led by  Mikko Jakonen. For more information, please visit:

Submit your narrative here