The Power of the Hobbyist
There is one of two ways that I hear the term ‘hobbyist’ being thrown around. The first is by ‘professional’ woodworkers and more times than not it has been in a disparaging tone. Like a hobbyist couldn’t possibly be a good, fast, talented as a pro. The other way I’ve heard it use is by the hobbyist themselves and is usually preceded by the words: I’m just a...
In either case, I don’t understand why this is.
Just because a person charges money for their woodworking doesn’t mean that they are any good at it. You’d be shocked at what non-woodworking patrons will not notice or care about. To my way of thinking, being a pro woodworker means that you are a slave to the grind. I’ve been there and it isn’t always pretty. It’s not often that you get to do the kind of work that you want and often times you are left begging to be paid for the work that you do complete. Not to mention having to do all of the other drudgery like book keeping, accounting, website upkeep and marketing. All of these tasks need doing and no one person is good at them all. When you’re a small shop, putting food on the table as a one-person operation can be difficult. The other thing to keep in mind that even the most successful furniture makers supplement their incomes with teaching and writing.
Turning furniture making into a hobby was the best thing I could have ever done. For a while there I was starting to dislike woodworking because of all the other stuff I mentioned earlier. Add more stress to the situation by having a young family and wanting to contribute to the household income. Getting a job outside of making allowed me the freedom to build what I wanted, when I wanted. I’ve stayed in the woodworking industry but what I make in my hobbyist shop simply brings in play money to help feed a healthy tool addiction.
So don’t be ashamed of your hobbyist designation. Hobbyists get to explore as many (or as few) aspects of the craft as they want. They don’t have the pressure of eating and making rent so they can do whatever they want. No rabbit holes are off limits for the hobbyist because in the end it’s just your personal time and some materials. So go ahead, be a proud hobbyist and hold your chest out with pride.
In order to understand, you must do. - V