As an artist I often take offense when someone refers to my artwork as a “hobby”. A hobby is defined as an activity done in one’s leisure time for relaxation. An activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.
True, I do not derive a substantial amount of my income from the sale of my artwork (at this time… but perhaps my relatives will someday), and I do tend to spend 6-8 hours a day “relaxing” according to the definition. The “activity” they refer to for me is more a passion than a mere interest for pleasure. An interest for pleasure sounds to me like an interest one has in cooking, gardening, or knitting – done entirely for pleasure, and how often they chose to do it. Sure I derive great pleasure creating and it is a very calming zone to be in when I am working, but trust me not all the time is pleasure, there are many days that do not go according to how I envisioned and are frustratingly brutal.
I believe the difference between a so called “hobbyist artist” and “ true artist” lies in the fact that a true artist is not creating for the audience, he creates from a driving passion to relate his inner most feelings through his art. The act of creating is an emotional release; it centers one, giving an inner peace which allows one to reflect not only on who we are, but how we think and feel.
An artist is not overly concerned with meeting the public’s needs; more as to how he can fulfill his own inner spirit.
Trust me it is always good for the ego to receive accolades for ones work, but I do not lose sleep when a friend posts a piece of kitsch they have created, and receive far more “likes” than I. I realize that the public likes art they can understand, and art that is pretty. A sculptor who portrays the human figure in all it amorous attributes is readily applauded. Those, such as myself, who portray the inequities of our society on other human’s leaves many viewers confused and emotionally off balance.
I have met many a hobbyist artist, who skillfully paints or sculpts beautiful scenery, figures, cats or dogs. They depict life precisely as one view it and they suck the air and life right out of these images; there is no inner reflection, nor creativity.
Defining what an artist is has just as many rifts for there is truly some bad art that sells for millions. As I always said “the artist is laughing himself right to the bank.” Art is so subjective that I guess if one has to define artist or define a hobby and thus neatly place it in a box then one needs to shout out “I am an artist” - But never ask me if my artwork is a hobby!