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Author Topic: Are You a Professional Artist?  (Read 1742 times)


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on: July 12, 2010, 07:33:24 AM
The difference between Professional and Amateur - Part 1
It would seem that for many years there have been "discussions" or "arguments" about what constitutes a professional and/or an amateur.

I have, for a long time, keenly followed letters by readers of The Artist( a U.K. magazine), in their "You write" column where readers express their views and opinions., especially the arguments about what constitutes a professional and amateur. There have been those who know exactly what the difference is between the two, but too many just bandy the words professional and amateur around without having the foggiest what they really mean!

What is a Professional?

According to the New Century Dictionary:

I. a. Professional, Pertaining to, connected with, or appropriate to a profession or calling.......also engaged in one of the learned or skilled professions, following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain (as, a professional soldier);.........also, undertaken or engaged in as a means of livelihood or for gain, or by professionals rather than amateurs.
II. n. Professional, One belonging to one of the learned or skilled professions; also, one who makes a profession or business of an occupation, etc.,esp. Of an art or sport in which amateurs are accustomed to engage for amusement or recreation.

What is an Amateur?

According to the New Century Dictionary:

I. n. Amateur, One who cultivates any art or pursuit for the love or enjoyment of it, instead of professionally or for gain: often implying desultory action or crude results.
II. a. Amateurish Like or suggestive of an amateur, as in crudeness or other faults.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 11:00:30 PM by nolan »
You are what you THINK about - Napoleon Hill


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Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 07:33:59 AM
The difference between Professional and Amateur - Part 2
I would like to state right now that, in regard to the definitions in part 1, there are amateurs who deliver "professional" quality work, and, vice versa, there are "professional" artists who deliver very amateurish, atrocious and very poor quality work! In saying this I qualify these statements by stating that this has nothing to do with subject matter, whether fine art on one side or abstract on the other.

A professional is a person who:
1) Makes a living (earns his/her keep) painting and selling their work in order to provide for themselves and their family. Painting, for them, is NOT a hobby or leisure activity.
2) Prides him/herself on the quality and technical proficiency of their work. Hence the term "professional", as in professional quality paint, professional quality paper, etc.
3) Acknowledges that there is always a need to improve. They never stop studying as there is always more to learn.
4) is expected to (and should) be skilled in his/her "craft".

An amateur is a person who:
1) Does not make a living out of art, even thought they may sell their paintings. Just the plain act of selling does not mean one is a professional per se. It is only making one's hobby pay for itself!
2) Paints only for pleasure and as a hobby for recreational purposes.

Does a degree or diploma make you a professional?

Emphatically NO! The certificate on its own certainly does not.

My experience is that many degrees and diplomas are not worth the ink on the paper. Why do I say so? Firstly, I have had school teachers in my classes who gave art at school as a subject and who did not even know the basics of teaching art, let alone the basics of art itself. All of them have admitted, in class, that they have learned more at our studio in one month than in two years at college. Secondly I have, at present, a student with a three year Diploma (Degree) from one of our Technikons and I am surprised at what they have taught her; or rather what they did not teach her. For example, she has very little idea about colour-mixing or proper perspective. She has only been at our studio for a few months now and the improvement in her work is so dramatic that she can hardly contain her excitement. What a waste of three years!

We have students, with absolutely no previous experience, who turn out professional quality work after only three or four months training. There are amateurs and amateurs - the good and the bad! Similarly there are professionals and professionals - the good and the bad!

The degree or diploma on its own really means nothing. What really counts is what you do AFTER you have received it(them). Most stop right there. They think that they have been taught everything that there is to be taught, and now they know everything. Remember, there is nobody who knows everything about art in general. The subject is far too big and complicated. It is a "House with many mansions". Professionals do not know everything!

Cezanne once remarked; that after devoting his whole life to mastering his "craft" he was still making "slow progress" each day. (Artist's and Illustrators, Mar 2001 p34)
What a lesson in humility and humbleness!

Why is it that there are some professionals who look down on amateurs?

Is it because they pride themselves on their degrees and/or diplomas, which most amateurs do not have? Is it because they have the mistaken belief that they are better artists than amateurs? Is it also because they think they are more technically proficient than amateurs?

The truth of the matter is that professionals are also prone to making mistakes, even if they do not want to admit it.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 11:00:39 PM by nolan »
You are what you THINK about - Napoleon Hill


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