Monday, March 21, 2016

The Amateur vs the Professional

Last Thursday I headed to the UPS store to pack and ship off a quilt to be included in the Fantastic Fibers exhibit in Paducah for the next two months. I asked a bunch of questions and was assured that everything was ok;  the quilt would be protected, insured and they would include my necessary contract.  I was given a tracking number and they put my art on the table for packing and shipment. I looked back a few times to make sure that I had taken care of everything and to say a few good-byes.  "That's it?  I just leave now?" I left the store without the quilt but with a feeling that I can only compare to dropping my dogs off at the kennel before a long trip.

I thought about my attachment to the piece and what it all meant. I had placed a very high price on it in the off chance that someone would want to buy it.  But then I worried...maybe I should have said it was not for sale?  What if someone did buy it- was I ok with that?

The attachment is not limited to this particular piece. I usually have a very hard time parting with my art. I still think about a particular piece that sold to someone before I was ready to sell it.  I'm grateful that I at least have a picture of it.

One of my favorite books on art and process is "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield. As much as I enjoyed this book for its motivational qualities, I was surprised when reading it that the author took such an impersonal viewpoint to his work. He separates artists into two distinct categories: the amateur and the professional. One of the qualities he lists as being a professional is this, "We do not overidentify with our jobs. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyzes him...If we think of ourselves as a corporation, it gives us a healthy distance on ourselves.  We're less subjective."

I once had a very professional artist tell me that my problem was that I fall in love with my art. I can completely understand what he was trying to say and can even agree with it. I don't want to be a corporation. I do fall in love with it. I'm an amateur and I would have to say, I wouldn't have it any other way.