hobby or career?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The other day my 9-year old nephew asked if my art-making was a hobby. I was a little startled at first and then told him it was my career. He looked excited and then gazed around my studio and said "I want this to be my career, too". I told him that he could be anything he wants to be.

This exchange got me thinking about hobbies and careers, and what really separates the two.

-a hobby is something one does with less intensity

-a hobby is taken less seriously than a career

-a hobby is something one does when they retire (?!)

-a career is what pays the bills (not always!)

-art is a career, craft is hobby (oh boy, this is getting worse...)

-a hobby is something one does on the side, a career is one's life practice (hmmm...)

-one usually enjoys one's hobbies, but one doesn't necessarily enjoy one's career (!)

-a career is taken more seriously than a hobby

As I write these, I realize how silly many of them are and how the gap between career and hobby is not as wide as I may think. I guess my reason for calling my art-making a "career" is my desire to take myself seriously as an artist/craftsperson, in a society that doesn't give a lot of value to art and crafts. It's amazing how a 9-year old is already aware of this distinction.

In the end, I don't know how helpful it is to differentiate between hobbies and careers, and whether it really serves to be empowering for anyone. More than anything, how I label my practice says more about how I perceive the world and where I locate myself in it.