What differences are there between an amateur and a professional artist
If your art hobby is your passion, could you make money by turning it into a viable artistic business and what are the differences should you be prepared for?
This article explores the differences that you would have to consider to change from being an amateur artist into a part-time or full-time professional business.
The COVID economic downturn is forcing many people to look for new ways to make money, boost their income and change their lifestyle.
If you have lost part or all of your income through the COVID crisis, using your existing artistic talent to make money could seem like a great idea.
Alternatively, the experience of the coronavirus lockdown may energise you to seek a new direction in life with a lifestyle business.
Now could be a perfect time for creative artists to make money by starting a business.
What is the difference between art and crafts?
While both art and crafts are creative artistic pursuits, art is a unique way of emotional expression through media.
In visual art, the media could be oil paints on canvas, watercolours on paper or perhaps an image on a screen.
Original art is a unique and innate expression from the artist through an artistic medium.
Crafts are also artistic; however, their finished form is a physical product.
Craft products can, therefore, be reproduced.
The definition of artist for this article is someone who produces:
Artists use a wide variety of techniques, tools, materials, and substrates to make their “creative products or service”.
Is printmaking an art?
Printmaking is the name given to creating artwork using a printing process. Printmaking uses a lithographic, an intaglio or a relief printing plate to transfer ink from the plate to a substrate. Mono-colour or multi-colour prints can be produced by mulit-pass printing.
The printmaking process encompasses a spectrum of printing machine designs and sizes. Multi-colour prints are made by passing the substrate through the machine multiple times with different printing plates.
Highly artistic printmaking is due to many variables such as the hand preparation of printing plates, the choice of inks, the hand-inking and substrate, which combine to generate a unique print.
Is sculpture an art?
Sculpture is a three-dimensional visual art form that creates shapes through carving or shaping, modelling, casting or combining a wide range of substrates.
Classical or contemporary sculpture are broad descriptions within the art.
What is the meaning of artist?
Amateur artists come from all walks of life, but they find their sense of purpose in creative expression. Artists and sculptors have a calling and passion to produce works that inspire or challenge others.
Artists may be innately gifted without any formal education. While some learn through colleges or university to pursue art careers or an artist residency, others study for personal gratification.
Art camps and one-off classes also provide a means for hobby artists to learn and try new skills and techniques.
Some hobby artists might be active in internet forums, Facebook Groups or have Instagram or Pinterest accounts themselves.
Artists may be members of art galleries or art societies and artist network groups who regularly attend opening nights at exhibitions.
In many cases, amateur enthusiasts do not have experience in running a business.
The home art studio and artist tools
As a hobbyist you may have a home studio space and you most likely have accumulated materials and artist tools such as:
- art paper
- acrylic paints
- oil paints
- pastels and crayons
- wood bonding adhesives, resins, lacquers and sealants
- art or artist textbooks for inspiration
Most likely you keep your tools and materials in a space in your house or perhaps a shed that is a semi-permanent studio space.
Perhaps you work from photos, drawings or sketches or imagine images in your head.
You probably do one project at a time because of limited time or space.
The advantage of a home studio is that you have accumulated tools and materials and have some confidence to expand on.
What are the differences between an amateur and a professional artist?
For your art to be a full-time business and generate the major part or all of your income, you will need to scale up your business and change your mindset.
Sometimes it is very difficult to achieve the change from amateur to professional. One way to go is via a part-time or semi-professional business so your income is not wholly dependent on your new business.
To achieve a regular income, you need some marketing and sales activities.
Building your past-time into a business will require some systems and disciplines.
Some differences that spring to mind are:
- What is it like running a business and would you like it?
- What are the tax implications for you?
- Would you accept paid commissions?
- Are there enough customers out there?
- How would you tell the world you exist and make sales?
- What prices would you charge and why?
- How would you work out your costs and gallery commissions to ensure you make enough money?
- Are they any local government licences or restrictions that you must meet?
- How would you get accepted into art galleries?
- How much money will you need to start your business and make from it?
- What would be the best legal structure for your business?
How do you get from being an amateur into a business owner?
- If you like the idea of owning your own business, the first question to answer is “Should I Own A Business?” The purpose of the Should I Own A Business Podcast, and our specially developed pathway is to help you answer this question.
- There is some personal preparation that you can take to increase your chances of success greatly.
- You must be confident, that there are enough customers who will buy your artwork, before you become a full-time artist.
- Owning a successful small business requires many things to work in harmony, and it is vital to have a good understanding before you leap in. That’s why our Podcast tag line is Listen Before You Leap!
- An episode that might help you is Your Attitude To Money.
What is it like turning your art passion into profit?
One of the main differences is that running your part-time or full-time artist studio will mean spending time managing and growing your business, not just creating your body of work portfolio.
Not only will you be the “artist in residence”, but you will need to be across the other Critical Business Functions.
Critical Business Functions are in all businesses, and they have to work harmoniously for the business to thrive. Part of your time will need to be spent on these Critical Business Functions for your business to be successful.
Episode 6 Critical Business Functions is a good place to hear what some of these are.
What differences to your studio and mindset might you need?
As a hobbyist or amateur artist, you might handle one project at a time which suits your studio floor area and your free time.
However, to scale your business up in size, and become a professional artist studio, you may need to review things like:
- upgrading to professional-grade materials, substrates and tools
- de-cluttering and re-organising the studio set-up to increase productivity and safety
- a more significant studio area to cope with multiple projects or storage space so that you can build a body of work for an exhibition
- a vehicle such as a van, pick-up truck, ute or trailer to move your body of work to art exhibitions or art galleries
- the amount of natural lighting
- dust or fume extraction
- a fire prevention and escape plan
- an organised storage area for materials such as paints, canvases, methylated spirits, turpentine or printing inks
- experimenting with new materials, substrates or techniques
Some practical things to be aware of:
- maintaining catalogues of your finished artworks
- writing an Artist Statement, Artist Bio, Artist resume or Artist CV.
- marketing yourself consistently
- estimating your costs accurately
- price setting and gallery commissions for each piece
- purchasing materials
- copyright terms and conditions
- invoicing and receipts
- working to deadlines
- work health and safety
- any local government regulations, licences or certificates you may need to run your business
- insurances for your studio, artworks and third parties
How do I know if this is a good business idea?
Owning a business does not suit everybody. We created The Should I Own A Business Podcast to help people who are thinking of starting a business find out what it’s like.
The Should I Own A Business “Pathway” covers the essential things you should consider and how to prepare yourself to be successful.
Other episodes such as You-360 and Understanding Your Motivation help you work out if owning a business is right for you.
Understand The Reality of Business Ownership
The Should I Own A Business Podcast explores the reality of being a business owner in plain language.
Here are some other resources you might find helpful:
Our free Business Readiness Test highlights areas you might need to prepare more before starting a business.
Episode 18 is Turning Your Hobby Into A Business which explains the “pressure of the customer”.
About the author: Brendan Barrow is a consultant and a mentor with extensive business experience, leading and managing businesses on 3 continents.
Brendan Barrow Co-Host
The Should I Own A Business Podcast-Listen Before You Leap.
Avoiding new business failures, one owner at a time.