I have been following a discussion on Linked In about the diifference between amateur artists and professionals. Thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.
To describe an artist as a professional or as an amateur is not necessarily making a judgement about the quality of their art.
By definition, a professional is a person engaged in a specified activity as their main paid occupation, rather than as a pastime. Professional artists are in the business of producing art to make an income.
Amateurs may sell work and derive income from their art, but that is not the primary motivation. For them art may be a passion, a hobby or a recreational pastime, but it does not matter if their work doesn’t sell. They are not in business.
Many professional artists began their careers as amateurs, and many amateurs are as skilled as professionals.
This is where confusion can arise, when the word professional is used to describe skill. To say someone has the skills appropriate to a professional indicates they work at a high standard, but it does not make them a professional.
If you are an artist the labels won't change the quality of the art you produce.
Wearing the label ‘professional’ may confer credibility with art buyers and seeing yourself as a professional will make a difference to how you approach the making and marketing of your art.
The amateur enjoys other privileges. They are in the wonderful position of being free to follow their passion or whims wherever they like, without concern for how the buying public will respond. They can develop their artistic skills to any level they choose. They are free to experiment with radical ideas, paint in different styles and produce work of inconsistent quality without fear of consequences.
Professional artists can of course do all this too, but the reality is these things have consequences for a business. They impact on how the work is perceived and received by collectors. If you are trying to build a career as a professional this is a real constraint.
Bottom line. If you are an amateur, don’t be offended by being described as such. Enjoy your freedom and be the best artist you can be. If you are a professional, I hope your business gives you a great income and that you never lose the joy and passion of creating art.
What do you think?