Are you really an Amateur?

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Kurt Sasso

Recently, I was interviewed by The Windsor Star about my 42 interviews in 42 Days challenge I set for myself this month of June. It was a resounding success with all 42 interviews being completed in a three week and one day span. I was mentally exhausted. But, it goes to show you that with hard work great things can pay off.

However, like anything on the internet, there will be people commenting with their thoughts, which is wonderful. In fact, I was pleased that the person below took the time to actually comment.

Dennis:
Mostly amateur artists were interviewed. Would have been cool to get insight from the professionals. Would have been interesting.

I replied:
Kurtis:
That depends on your definition of amateur. If you were looking for those that worked for DC or Marvel, then no those types were not interviewed. This was due to tight time constraints that they could not make it at the times I had available to schedule these interviews.
 
As for the artists that I did interview, If you look into their history, they have many years individually working towards their goals and are all successful. They getting paid for what they do. Does that still constitute them as amateurs?
 
If you had a chance to listen to all forty-two+ interviews I would love your take on them. Please feel free to e-mail me and we can have a dialogue.
 
This got me thinking. What constitutes an Amateur vs. Professional? Or, “Are you really an Amateur?
 
 
Let’s look at the definitions of these terms:
am·a·teur
ˈamətər,-ˌtər,-ˌCHo͝or,-CHər/noun
noun: amateur; plural noun: amateurs – a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.
 
pro·fes·sion·al
prəˈfeSHənl/adjective
adjective: professionalof, relating to, or connected with a profession.
“young professional people”

 

If you follow the above terminology, you wouldn’t go to an amateur Doctor or Dentist. Yet, when it comes to “The Arts”, anything can be construed as “amateur”. When I refer to “The Arts” I’m not referring to just “Visual Arts, Traditional Mediums of Drawing, Sculpture, Painting…”, etc. I’m referring to the Arts of those creative people that I interview. While Dennis’ comment was interesting, until he contacts me to clarify his position, I can only gather that he listened to a few creative people that he did not recognize in these 42 interviews. To be fair, unless I have interviewed them in the past, then they are all new to me. That is what makes all these interviews exciting because there’s the aspect of the unknown.

I decided to do more research into the interviews that are posted and scheduled to be posted. Here they are broken down by Genre according to my site:

  • Comics: 28
  • TV/Film: 7
  • Music: 1
  • Video Games: 2
  • Other: 6 (these are categorized as: Podcasts, Literary Authors, etc)

Of these five categories, the majority of my interviews were from either Traditional comics or Online comics. Out of all those interviews, what percentage would you consider them to be “Amateur Artists”?

  1. 25%
  2. 50%
  3. 75%
  4. 100%

The answer? 0%

On average all interviewees on this site for this particular challenge have on average between 5 to 10 years in their respective field of Comics. This is either through their own created works where they have maintained a website, created content for the site, and have or are currently in process of creating comic books through a print service. They are all successful business persons through hard work, gaining recognition for their skills, marketing their works and everything else that business people have to accomplish on a daily basis.

Are they working for Marvel or DC Comics? Out of the 28 interviews, only 3 have had that capability between the years of 1970 – 2010′s with contract work or other circumstances. The rest? Independent creators focused on the future through online content.

“But, that’s just comics. What about the other areas?”

Let’s look at the Entertainment Industry for TV and Films. Everyone loves these right? It doesn’t matter how you consume them in front of your TV, Netflix, or other Online methods. This is an area where you can consider that once you are on a show, you’re a pro.

Out of the 7 people interviewed… 2 are currently acting in the industry. 4 are Directors (3 of which have released multiple feature films, 1 is releasing a feature length pilot web-series) and 1 is a sound engineer for TV, Web and Film.

Moving onto Music. The person I interviewed is a passionate Musician who is also a Music Producer. Has purchased his own equipment, setup his own studio and is scheduling, signing clients and plays as well in a country band. He’s only in his early 20′s. Is that still an Amateur?

Video Games and Others (I will lump them together because it will make the next set of data easier to read): Literary Authors, Video Game Hosts, Podcasters and others are generating content for their sites, selling their published books have had to find the content, edit it, get it to a publisher, reviewed by an editor, shipped to books stores throughout the world to their target audiences. Hundreds of thousands of hours of gathering data, setting up a schedule, reviewing and checking facts before the article goes live and making money through various ad revenue generating sites, sponsorships, Patreon, etc.

While I understand that all of the information gathered above is just strictly about the 42 interviews in 42 days, then the real question remains: “What do you consider an Amateur Artist vs. A Professional Artist?” You might realize that you are more of a professional than you think. How to figure this out? Let’s ask the internet.

The Question was: “At what point do you stop being an “Amateur Artist” and are a Professional?”

On Facebook, there were a variety of responses. Here were just a few of them:

If you make money off what you do, you’re a professional.

If it becomes your profession.

To me it’s once you you any money. Sell a sketch for a nickel? You’re in.

In other realms of life, you lose your amateur status as soon as you make money from your skill. It’s a solid line to use as a marker. Once you start talking about frequency and amounts, it’s semantics.

Twitter also chimed in as well:

I’d say when you can make a steady living off it, you’re officially a professional.

payment = pro, right?

When you get paid for your art. It takes being paid once.

For the final thoughts on this topic, I’ll leave it with three people who have been in the industry and these are words to live by:

 
Dr. Carlo S. San Juan: You’re a professional once you declare yourself to be one, treat yourself like one, act like one, and conduct yourself to others like one. And yeah, making money off your profession too.
 
Krishna Sadasivam: When you act like one. Professionalism isn’t about money. It’s about work ethic, skill, and the ability to communicate your ideas.
 
Dawn Griffin: A professional is just someone who gets paid for their work. It doesn’t mean you have to be also famous, or doing only ONE job, or making millions.
But like Krishna Sadasivam says… it’s also an adjective. You can be a professional amateur, or an unprofessional pro. But I define the NOUN professional as someone who earns money from their service/talents.

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