Something that's been on my mind a lot lately is how the two differe and which is ultimately better. I know many people on DA would vote professionalism when it comes to art, aka it being your source of living, getting "paid" for the art you produce (be it traditional art, theater, dance, etc). However, I also believe that a lot of us have a glorified view of how being a professional artist would be, most on here being so young and inexperienced in the professional world. Some of the rant ahead was pulled from a conversation between friends on Facebook.
From a theater/acting/dance standpoint: hobbyists will work for free, which massively undercuts those who wouldn't.
The market value has decreased so massively that a small time artist simply can't survive on the $100 here $250 there that they receive. It breaks down to about .50¢ per hour. From a dancer standpoint, that one or two hundred doesnt even cover the cost of creating a costume, let alone living. When I was in Seattle I took every gig I could get into and most of them were unpaid or all of the performers split tips received through the evening (maybe $20 per performer).
Undercutting in burlesque and other exotic dances is extra concerning as not only does it make it hard for other artists to survive, but it also readjusts the value of a naked human body—which is problematic at a societal level.
The long and short is: if people were actually paid minimum wage for the hours that they put into their art, they could survive (which is actually required by law of the theaters who employ two or more people in their office fulltime). But the market doesn't allow it, and people skirt the law. Additionally the union keeps you from getting work in a market where talent has a decreased value.
The same arguments can be made for traditional and digital artists, not just performers. I know many have visions of getting scooped up by some big publishing company, but the truth of it is most artists (even comic artists and animators) are freelance. Being freelance is extremely hard work. Instead of having your set job to get up and commute to every day, you become your own marketor. You have to sell yourself and your art on top of creating your actual art. When your art becomes something you have to do to survive vs. what you want to do everyday when you get home it can drain your drive and creativity and the love you actually have for the field.
Would it ruin the magic? It is no longer because you want to make time to do your art, or are excited to get home to make it happen, but because you are forced to. You would not be looking at things with a fresh mind anymore when it in your main focus. The stresses of it could be to great and that you would lower your standards to accept more jobs to make the money. Work with people you didn't support, accept lower class shows, produce things other people would want, or things you think other people want to see and heard rather than what you feel.
I've been thinking about a lot of these things for a while because we all want to follow our passion. But how does one follow their passion and not break themselves in the process? The magical Cinderella story will not happen for all of us, so one always has to plan that it won't. And when you try to plan for making it all on your own, it is an incredibly daunting task. I wish it weren't, but it is holding me back so much. I know I have talent, but in today's day and age (especially in America for some reason) having talent isn't enough. Perhaps it is because the market has become so over saturated? I'm not entirely sure.
So what are your guys' thoughts on being a professional artist vs. hobbiest? Is the pushing yourself to the limit worth it? The burden (the term "starving artist" was coined for a reason)? Or is it better just to keep the art a magical world on the side? I could use a lot of help with this...