I have been thinking alot about my role as a professional artist versus just being an artist. Whether one is an artist or not is brought up on the QuiltArt list regularly. It seems many people get the "professional artist" mixed up with "the artist" parts. Let me explain from my point of view.
An artist is one who creates art. The artist may or may not sell and/or show their work.
A professional artist is one who creates art and is making it a business...meaning constantly seeking out show opportunities, sales opportunities and other ways to make money from their creative endeavors.
Well, let me tell you, there is a really big difference between the two of them!
An artist may decide to just wait for the muse to strike and then create at that time. An artist might decide to not create art for a while although they usually keep something going somewhere. An artist does not spend many hours on the computer seeking show opportunities.
A professional artist keeps a complete catalog of their work, which includes images, descriptions and information about shows and awards involving each piece of work. The professional keeps up a current artist statement. The resume is keep up to date. Calls for shows, galleries, museums are all searched twice weekly and considered for appropriateness. Shows are entered on a regular basis. Packets are sent out regularly to different galleries and museums which include a digital submission of images, a list of those images including pricing, size, etc., a cover letter, that up to date resume and anything else that might be appropriate.
A professional spends a lot of time (probably more that half of a workweek) doing the business part of being an artist. Maintaining accounts, banking, writing notes, contacting different places to arrange for teaching, writing lessons, writing articles, keeping bills straight, shipping and mailing, getting postcards and business cards printed, getting images taken, resizing images multiple times to fit various requirement (why can't everyone use the same size and resolution?), etc. etc., etc.
A professional artist does not work a 40 hour work week but more like 60 hours per week which factors in time to create, time to reflect, time to contemplate, time to renew, time to view others' work, time to read professional magazines....ugh...maybe that workweek is more like 80 hours per week...I do take Sundays off...well, sort of.
Want to become a professional artist? Be prepared to create even when you don't feel like it, doing the business even when you don't feel like, meeting deadlines, fusing with little details, hauling stuff around, cleaning the studio, going to the studio even when you are tired, teaching even when you are really sick, and making nice to people you don't really like.
Want more information about how to do it? Read Alyson Stanfield's new book "I'd rather be in the studio". Her book is filled with lists of things you need to do! Don't just think about it...do it!