When can you call yourself a professional ?

toomuchglassFebruary 9, 2010

A question to ponder !

In your opinion , is there any actual "criteria" to be considered a professional ?

( in whatever craft you are good at ) I've been refered to as a "professional stained glass artist" ... and I sure don't consider myself that. On the other hand , I've seen handmade things on E Bay that say "professionally crafted" and some of the items look awful . Maybe there is no answer to this question ! What are your thoughts ?

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I doubt there is a true answer. I think if you are better than average you could consider yourself a professional. It's like art, you look at some of it & with no lessons you could smear paint around a canvas & call it art(even have elephant smear canvas with his foot & it sells). 1 person just took paint brush full of paint & slung it toward a chair, after she had done that about 50 times with several colors- the chair was a "masterpiece" I thought it looked like she had no talent- but the stuff sold & for a lot of money too. Just like some bakeries sell cakes with roses that barely resemble roses but maybe they taste good or are only bakery in town. A glass artist can do beautiful work or maybe person buying glass just knows it's better than she could do so she likes it. I decorated cakes for many years mostly for cost of ingredients for showers & weddings,etc.I got a lot of compliments about the cake & taste of cake but I mostly thought I could have done better, probably because when I made 1st cake for DS's 1st birthday it was really a sad mess. After lessons I improved so I think most of us are always looking to improve. I think that is what holds our interest! Jan

    Bookmark   February 9, 2010 at 11:39PM
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sure dont know the answer to this, I doult I could ever be called a professional at much of anything except my job when I was working LOL!, how lucky you are, I have seen some of your work and yes I would call you a professional! how about showing some photos dont think I have seen many of yours.
Happy Crafting

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 10:08AM
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Bill and I considered ourselves 'Professionals' because we did about 25 shows a year, made all our wood products and painted/stained them ourselves, and worked with professional promoters. They were juried shows, and had to pass certain criteria. We did that for 15 years.
All of the above posts apply in some cases however.
You can just do a few things and If you are really good at what you do you can be considered professional.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 11:03AM
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I'm not sure but I think you are! I think it might be used to refer to anyone who sells their wares.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 11:52AM
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I think if you have to buy a business license to operate a booth that technically makes you a professional. IMO, it's not necessarily dependent upon ability or experience.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 10:54AM
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When I used to go to numerous boutiques around the Valley I would see wreaths that were hanging with glue "threads", ribbon ends that someone forgot to trim neatly, glob of glue where you could see it(did a flower fall off?) sewn projects with threads hanging off, felt items with poor sewing so you could see the stuffing. These folks would often have lots of stuff & often be busy making more while customers were passing by or worse talking about something to another person sitting there & ignoring the customers. I just passed them by, I stayed & looked at the organized attractive display with lady looking "Christmasy" or like "spring" she cared enough to dress for what she was selling. She had made a stand-up board for her handmade jewelry, maybe handmade tags with cute stencil in corner, nice work, nothing unfinished & looking like she enjoyed the customers. Very unprofessional is the person trying to talk you into the yarn teacups years after the pattern came out & also selling towels to go over fridge handle made from cheapest towels there are, no matter how nicely done I want a quality towel not a flimsy thing. Oddie's items are very nice. I think it was too-much- class that had display she showed of her sale at a park(glass objects I think) or maybe someone else but very well put together. Someone had plants in old or antique or unique objects- wonderful. I imagine before these ladies sold things they gave them as gifts to family & friends & made each with love & care & receivers urged them to sell their wares! Kudzu does beautiful work & I know there are so many others. I guess the professional is person who looks professional, does lovely work & is interested in customers by having an easy to navigate booth or table & being ready to assist customers. I headed our boutique for number of yrs. We gave it up because of 1 person. She had lovely oak picture frames her son had made, unfortunately she really almost ran after customers insisting that they were perfect gifts. Many customers complained & I had talked to her & she just would not tone it down. So because of her & the huge loss of sales we quit. So for anyone going into this, don't be your own worse enemy & sabotage your own sales! Good Luck on all your spring sales. Jan

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 1:29PM
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The local city art center makes the simple distinction that you are 'professional' if you sell your "product/talent/time" as your livelihood, and I agree. It says nothing about the quality of the work.

It's odd (to me) that so many people comment that my baskets are "so professional". Hence, I think the general public associates the word 'professional' with the highest quality.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 7:37AM
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I've been in this business since 1980. I went full time in 1994 and that's when I started calling myself a "professional crafter". I make my livlihood from crafts. In my case, craft shows.

I can assure you, talent has nothing to do with it! If you make money from your work, you can consider yourself a professional.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 7:59AM
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In todays society anyone who associates the word "Professional" with "Quality" is sadly mistaken.

A professional is one who derives their livelihood from the endeavors of their chosen discipline. In so doing they are constantly weighing production costs against the market value of the end item. The fortunate few who have established their trade name can continue to produce high quality and demand a market price that still affords them a profit, however, far too often when people move beyond the bobby status and begin to actively market their product they soon learn that they have to cut costs and use mass production techniques, more often than not, at the expense of quality.

On the other hand, the advanced amateur generally has another source of income and they perform their creative work purely for the sake of the end item. Far too often the amateur will produce an extremely high quality product, using top shelf materials and painstaking labor intensive production techniques

When the item is done they compute the fair market value as a percentage of markup above their initial material cost, with little to no actual markup for labor or the overhead cost of their workshop and tool replacement costs.

Case in point, My 83 year old Mother has been hand knitting as a hobby since her early childhood.

Last year she knitted a large sampler quilt, which she had hoped to enter in competition at the county fair. When she attempted to enter it in the competition they declined her entry on the grounds that her skills were far and beyond those of an amateur and the contest was limited to amateurs.

Two months later she sold that quilt for $175, stating to me that she had only paid $55 for the yarn so she had a net profit of $120.

My argument was that she had worked on it an average of 4hrs per day for 93 days, or in simple terms 372 man hours of skilled work. If we then divide the man hours by the supposed profit we find that she had performed highly skilled work for an average of 33 cents per hour.

To add insult to injury we later found out that the woman to whom Mother sold that quilt turned around and sold it on Ebay for $953.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 10:41AM
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"...however, far too often when people move beyond the bobby status and begin to actively market their product they soon learn that they have to cut costs and use mass production techniques, more often than not, at the expense of quality..."

I disagree. I am a mass production crafter. And I don't "cut" costs, I "lower" my costs. There is a difference. I can buy steel from one source for a certain amount per pound, or I can shop and get the same material for a lower cost per pound. That's not cutting costs, that's lowering costs.

I buy other materials in bulk, thus lowering costs again.

I can shear the steel with a pair of snips, or buy a shear. I bought a shear.
I can drill with a brace and bit, or a drill press. I bought a drill press.
I can bend the steel in a vice using a hammer, or buy a brake. I bought a brake.
I can use a paint brush, or a spray gun. I bought a spray gun.

None of those tools lowers the quality of the product one bit. But they lower the overall cost of the product by lowering the time necessary to make it. Thus more shows, and more money for me.

And the tools paid for themselves in one year.

As far as your mother is concerned, she got what she wanted for the quilt. So she was happy. She obviously enjoyed making it. And today she knows she made something someone is enjoying. And sometimes that's worth a lot more than money.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2010 at 9:16AM
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