Bleg: What Makes Someone an Artist?
This is inspired by the Generation Exploiter Post by Rufus F.
I think that the problems with determining whether an artist gets paid or not is that we are really debating what makes someone an artist vs being a hobbyist. Is an artist someone who makes art or does it require making a substantial amount of your income from whatever that art is? My tendency is to think that an artist is someone who can derive all or a substantial part of their income from making and selling art but there are plenty of people who would disagree and see this as snide. At the very least, I am dismissing the people who constantly try and never succeed.
There is also a dedicated number of people who know that they will never pay the bills with their art and are willing to do it in their spare time. A friend of mine is a scientist and also a classically-trained singer. She is willing to sing when she can and for love rather than dollars. I know a lot of theatre artists who have serious training (and are better than community theatre) who realize that theatre will never pay the rent and have settled into something which can be roughly called professional-amateurism where they work and rehearse and produce plays in their downtime from bill-paying jobs. Almost every theatre person is a professional amateur and needs to take a normal job between projects but many always have a bill-paying job to go to, the lucky ones find an employer that gives them a lot of flex time or start their own businesses. The unlucky ones just rely on temping or having a 9-5 without much career advancement but steady pay.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting paid for doing what you love. There are plenty of people who love their STEM jobs and they get paid well. We would never tell a STEM person “If you love math so much, why do you want to get paid for doing it.” Yet many people feel perfectly cool saying this to artists and pointing to the example of the professional amateur without realizing that the TV they are watching could not be produced by unpaid amateurs, it probably required a lot of money.
So OT, what in your mind makes someone an artist? Is it the creation of art, getting paid to do so, a combination of the two? Why does art look like playing compared to other work? It is very hard to do art well, I say this a MFA holding former theatre director so I have a bit of experience. Producing art can be fun but there are also days when it is a drag, nothing goes right, and you just want to go home and collapse, just like every other job.
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