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So, Is Your Art a Hobby or a Living?

Intersection of crosswalks

A hobby or a living? Is this the place where lines get crossed? Something that begins with fun, passively generates a little income, then results in a carefree career?

There at the interaction of education and compensation? My guess is for the majority of artists, art is a hobby, not a serious career. Is an actor living in New York City, who makes a living as a waiter, a career actor or a waiter? If asked, which would they say? We think we know where their true passion lies, but as an income generator, part of the passion in your passion must be business.

Money and creativity have always been a bit like conjoined twins from different families. They share organs, but they don’t look or act alike. One has a right hand, the other has the left. The right-hand shakes the hand of business, while the left hand’s forefinger is tapping its chin while looking up and thinking how cool it would be if the lighting was more dramatic. One neck has a tie, the other the rim of a tee shirt. One leg is in fine wool, the other is in denim. Together they are still a pair, but their minds are both savvy and creative. They are a team of one.

The successful artist needs to be this way, both savvy and creative. Analytical and resourceful, reserved and flamboyant, outward and inward. I personally would rather be an exceptional waiter, who enjoys acting as a hobby, than a poor, unhappy waiter who calls himself a professional actor. But if acting was my career passion, I would not only know how to memorize and deliver lines, I would know as much about the business of theater as there was to know. I would sweep the floors of it before delivering one sandwich to a customer. It’s a careful balance and I do not mean it as condescending in any way. It’s just my personal approach to a successful goal driven result.

If income from anything is your intention, intend to know the most about the business of your intentions. Have a passion for it too!

Live an artful life,


Read more about the business of art:

The Artist's Perspective - Professional Artist

The Artist's Perspective - Your Contact Info

What's Your Wheelhouse?