In response to my last blog, Margaret Ryall raised an interesting point about making a distinction between the label "artist" and "professional artist." This is worth exploring, and the criteria she posted made me wonder how the term "professional artist" is defined in other countries. So, I found a website for the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, http://media.ifacca.org/files/DefinitionArtistAnalysis.pdf that provides an interesting analysis. If you don't want to read it, I'll share the highlights.
According to UNESCO (1980) " 'Artist' is taken to mean any person who creates or gives creative expression to, or re-creates works of art, who considers his [sic] artistic creation to be an essential part of his life, who contributes in this way to the development of art and culture and who is or asks to be recognized as an artist, whether or not he is bound by any relations of employment of association."
The UK establishes what makes an artist professional in principle:
"While there are several interpretations of what constitutes a professional 'artist' a broad interpretation is any arts practitioner working in the arts ... be they creative or interpretative, who either makes or endeavours to make a living from their work. A professional artist will also be defined through peer recognition."
Ther term "professional artist" is usually formally defined by countries for tax purposes and benefits. Therefore, the definition varies from country to country. However, there are identified five common approaches, which I'll briefly state (if you're interested in the fleshed-out defintions go to the website):
1. Definition through membership: a person is defined as an artist through membership of a recognized artist association (e.g. a society of professional artists).
2. Definition by committee: artistic status is determined by a committee, such as a committee of 'experts' or of artistic peers.
3. Definition by authority: the taxing authority determines eligibility.
4. Definition by association with artistic output: i.e. an artist is someone who produces art
5. Definition by the nature of arts activity: an artist is deemed professional if their arts work is undertaken in a 'businesslike' manner.
In the USA, our IRS defines nine criteria in its definition of a "professional artist." I'm certain that you're familiar with those if you file taxes in this country.