classified information

what is the difference between an amateur and a professional?  what are distinctions that the world uses to classify?  are they opposites?

two artists can be just as caring about their art, just as serious, just as hard working, the same in skill and taste.  they can be the same in all ways, and yet if one sells, he might be classified a professional, and if one does not sell, he is usually classified as an amateur.

both artist are making art, that is very much the same.  but, what about motive?  now, the one that sells as well as the one does not sell, can still both have the motive of doing art that they think is only worthwhile because it “could” sell.  or they could both be doing art with a motive that does not include the motive of worth being related to money.

if a person gets an idea that they like, and they don’t do it because they think it’s an idea that will not sell, they are passing up that idea because are deciding the worth on money.

my question is, does that make a  person a professional?  if someone gets an idea and does it because the worth is in the idea itself or in the doing, does that make a person an amateur?

if the person sells his work, no matter why it was done, does that make the person a professional?  if the person does not sell his work, no matter why it was done, does that make the person an amateur?

what if a person dedicates his life to God and the other dedicates his life to his art?  does that make a difference in the classification?

what if one person does his art three days a week and the other does it five days a week?  does that really make a difference in the classification?

if you saw art from two different people in the same place, if you did not think of it’s worth, or know if it was for sale or not, who did it, or why…  would you be able to classify that art, or the artist, as amateur or professional?

if not for money, would it matter?

what matters to you?

photograph “glass in pane”

13 thoughts on “classified information

  1. Melissa

    I'm with the camel (and everyone else) on this one… and Maureen's very good point on pricing. With art and writing, so much is about preference – personal taste varies so widely, and it's just very, umm, personal. There are 'amateur' works I love, and 'professional' ones that don't reach me at all. I see poems posted all the time, which to me are just as good as those by famous poets (including some of yours). Most of us don't actively promote our work, though. We simply share, and I think that's beautiful.

  2. nance marie

    stevei really enjoy what you say about the titanic and the ark.~bj i'm in total favor of your advice.~maureen,it is a struggle to sell one's work, i agree. i can see it with wine for instance. so many variables and hoops to jump through. it is truly best when people just come to the winery and buy the wine. and i think it would be the same for most artists. it is wonderful when artists allow studio visits. and the web has helped in this as well. it is so true that the materials are expensive for artists, the prices continue to go up. you should see how much we pay for barrels from france! it is good to know that the range of media has gotten far more open, as it was so selective before the 1960's. oil and canvas was the main thing, now many and mixed lends to more creativity.

  3. Maureen

    Just something to note about prices of artwork. Artists who are represented by galleries pay about 40% to 60% to their reps when a sale is made. This is the case whether or not the artist is unknown, emerging, or established. Good galleries earn their fees. I try whenever possible to purchase directly from an artist so that there is no middle person; however, I never ask an artist to lower a price, though because of my relationship with them, they may voluntarily do so. The mistake many artists make is to sell work out of their studios for much less than it brings in a gallery. As is true of anything that can be bought and sold, art prices are a function of many factors: whether a piece is one of a kind or part of an edition, the materials used (steel for example is extremely expensive), whether it's commissioned, supply and demand in the marketplace, and, yes, even how well the artist is known. Just as a known author with a best-seller is more likely to get a contract than a writer seeking a publisher, so visual artists struggle to get themselves and their work in the public arena. For some, the latter is not so important. They don't make art to make money. For others, it's certainly more than that but they have to remember, they have to live, too. They have bills like the rest of us.


    My dear girl, these questions are too many and too hard. Let's just make art. And let's just become – whatever we are, whatever will be. (okay, so I wasn't in the mood today to think too hard! These really are good questions…)

  5. B. Meandering

    I scrapbook and made a huge one about my father's time in a German POW camp and about my mother during that time period. I consider it a work of art as have others who have seen it. I have seen scrapbooks done by mothers of their children for the sake of saving the memories for posterity and have considered them awesome works of art.I don't get into amateur and professional. I've seen works done by 'professionals' that I just shake my head at, esp. when I see the price tag.Yet I'll see work done by high school students that I consider extraordinary.I often wonder how someone decides a price tag for art esp. when a piece by the artist at the beginning of his/her art is perhaps one-third the price of a similiar work done by the artist after becoming 'famous'. Was more time and effort put into it? I could kick myself for not buying artwork by a local artist years ago, when I worked for her. But my husband at the time would have considered it an extreme waste of money. Now her work is way beyond what I can afford to pay, because she is considered a professional artist known throughout the United States.Again, you've made me think–even on a Saturday!:)

  6. Steve Gravano

    Really I've never given it much thought, though I found Maureen's like very interesting. When someone asked me how to become a professional photographer my reply was that a professional made the bulk of their income from photography. But I also like to say that professionals built the Titanic and an amateur built the ark… go figure.

  7. Lorrie

    sometimes i think it's like heaven.. the least known may reap the greatest rewards. you always bless me and others and i think that has great value..

  8. nance marie

    maureen, thanks for the link. this is very interesting information. the meaning has sure made a jump in meaning from religious usage to secular usage. the information shows me that words and and their meaning change over time from going from one language to another and from usage by different is amazing that we can understand one another at all.

  9. Kathleen from Yesteryear Embroideries

    Just love your words on this. I have never paid attention to the words amatuer or professional. If I see something I like, I buy it for the work itself. Whether the artist is a professional or not…….I love to hear about themselves and their journey in the work they do. Although I try to sell my work, I have made much more as gifts. The things I have given away has brought me just as much happiness as those things that have sold. Love this post! Have a great weekend. blessings,Kathleen


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