What is a Professional Artist?
In Canada, according to the Canada Council for The Arts, professional artist is defined as an artist who has specialized training in their artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions), is recognized as a professional by his or her peers, is committed to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially, and has a history of public presentation or publication. In legal terms a professional Artist is defined as an individual who has a history of paid work as an Artist. Being a professional artist also means you have the character traits and habits to persist in your aim, even in the face of challenge and lack of earnings.
Anyone can consider themselves a professional artist, but that doesn’t make it so.
I watched a child trip on a curb and skin her knee. Her mother stopped to put a bandaid on the wound. Does this make her a doctor? or a nurse? My aunt takes painting classes and paints for enjoyment now and then, does that make her an Artist? There are many hobbyists and amateurs in the world of Art. What sets the professionals apart is every detail from our dedicated process for developing new artworks, through to finishing, presentation and delivery of the work. When I was in London at the Royal College of Art painting and expanding my mind and abilities as a contemporary painter, I came to see that in Europe, I did not have to explain why my profession of Artist, is a legitimate profession. When I was in New York City exploring the galleries in Chelsea, I did not have to explain that Artist is a legitimate profession. I also didn’t have to preface it with, “I’m a full-time professional Artist”. It is not the same in Canada, except for perhaps in Montreal and Toronto. Even though I have been making Art since birth, have training, public and commercial gallery shows and representation, and have been earning a full-time living from making Art for over 17 years. I know that I still have to educate people I meet, about what the profession of Artist really means.