At What Point are You No Longer an Amateur Jewelry Artist?

by Liz.

At What Point are You No Longer an Amateur Jewelry Artist?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journalquestion-mark-white-on-turquoise-500x500-png

At what point are you no longer an amateur? A beginner?

So many of us are self-taught – and it’s not like there are really “credentials” for this.

It’s a question I wrestle with every day lately since I am launching, but at the same time feel like a fraud… My personality wants to be dead honest, but saying I am basically a newbie isn’t going to instill a lot of confidence in my online visitors!

And there are at least three parts to becoming a successful jewelry artist. 1) The Surge. That innate creativity/artisty/inspiration/drive to create. 2) The Skill. Which just takes practice and learning and time to see how things hold up.. And then 3) The Sell. You have so many great resources for doing shows on your site, but I’m jumping straight to online. And suddenly also need to be an expert photographer, copywriter, website designer etc. Oh and let’s not forget 4) The Official Business Side! Taxes and insurance and licenses and accounting and and and and….

I am somewhat babbling at you now, but where in all that do you move from hobbyist to professional? The first purchase? The first year you make significant profits? Or just the day you define yourself as a legitimate jewelry designer?

Joy Wrapped Jewelry

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  • Judy Bjorkman says:

    Do you have a tax number (in order to collect sales tax and to deduct business expenses from your income tax)? I think if you operate at a loss for 3 consecutive years, you are considered a hobbyist and not a professional (and you may no longer deduct any expenses). I may not have this exactly correct,but it’s one way of measuring your “identity” as a jeweler!
    All the best,

  • To me, in addition to the paperwork mentioned by Judy, you start to become a professional when you sell your first piece to a stranger. Your friends and family will always buy to be nice, but there’s nothing like selling to somebody who buys simply because the piece is worth it to them.

  • Hello Liz,
    I want to speak to your personal level of when you are no longer a beginner or amateur. I believe those are two different levels and it sounds as if you are past the beginning level. I have been making jewelry for about 6 years and still consider myself in that “amateur” stage because there is so much to learn and I learn something new each day. Also, after 6 years I still cannot claim a niche because I want to make them all.
    Yes, the legal aspect is extremely important and while I have all of the entities in place mentioned by Anne and Judy, I am still taking a loss. It’s OK (smile). Some things in life takes time and I am patient. Be patient Liz!

  • Judith says:

    In your question I’d highlight that you call yourself a jewelry “artist”. I know a few women who create beautiful jewelry and sell it in art studios, at gem shows, and on line, or craft fairs. One that I know even repairs jewelry for people who bring her their ‘special’ jewelry to fix. She does not call herself a jeweler but she does use gold and silver in her own creations and for some repairs. None of the jewelry artists appear to be calling themselves professional jewelry artists. I don’t believe it should or does make a difference in that the point is to get a following and become known for your jewelry making. It will be your customers who decide to see you as professional because they believe in your jewelry. You don’t need to label yourself to create your best. Some deceased painters and artists we (now) call masters were merely called ‘painters’ or ‘artists’ in their lifetime.

  • Judith says:

    Why does it matter to you? Time and effort will turn you from a beginner into a pro. Confidence will come from liking what you make and connecting with buyers who do too. I think the constant growth is one of the joys of this craft/art/type of work. Even Nancy L.T. Hamilton, a well known online teacher as well as maker, is constantly learning (or inventing) and sharing new techniques. I try to focus on doing the best work I can and growing artistically and technically as I feel called to. The IRS and business issues are necessary but they don’t define who we are as jewelry makers or designers.

  • Leslie Schmidt says:

    I went quickly from hobbyist to a designer and selling my own jewelry to even teaching beginning jewelry techniques classes for two years. I had friends who couldn’t find the color beads and metals they wanted so I started designing jewelry for them. Thankfully YouTube teaches lots of skills. I taught myself mostly from books and magazines, looking carefully at how items were put together, asking myself how I would make that piece differently or in a style I would wear. I recently took a class that defined more clearly my style (Romantic Vintage-Inspired Designs), how to make a line of items that are cohesive, and to discover whether I just wanted to be a hobbyist or a serious seller of my art or even a designer of lines for boutiques or stores (serious seller not lines for stores). Keep learning, keep makering (yes, that’s a word), figure out where you want to progress, and enjoy the journey. The more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn.

  • Fiona Wade says:

    Liz, you are a Jewellery Designer. Believe it. You have a website! All the best, Fiona

  • Liz Joy says:

    Thank you all for your comments and insights! Everyone’s thoughts were interesting and appreciated! Most especially the lovely Fiona! 😉 But it’s also true that as Leslie says, “The more I learn, the more I learn I need to learn.” Here’s to “makering” 😉 always having something new for us to learn and explore!


  • sue scott says:

    My daughter (with autism) and I have started a jewelry business: etsy, facebook page, large inventory, business cards, checking account, sales events, continuing education, the works. We call ourselves designers or artists, because we *are* designing and creating art. We might even be obsessive about it all. Wink, wink. Our customers don’t seem to care whether we are professionals or not. At this point, we don’t either. We are eager to increase skills. This is a great question. Sue

  • Sue and Daughter, that’s wonderful. Keep up the great work! 🙂

  • Karen Sutton says:

    Hi,I have done jewelry making for nearly 40 years. Mostly at craft shows and church shows.In the last couple of years I have consigned at a couple of stores. My jewelry was purchased wholesale at a florist shop. My first opportunity at wholesaling. This year another store owner contacted me and asked to see my jewelry. When I took it in she made a large purchase outright then consigned a lot more. I still consider myself as a crafter even if I do design it myself. I started a website but am not selling from it. I really do not want to turn it into a full time business. Also I show it on my Facebook account. I do not have a special style just love using a variety of stones and supplies. I even include faceted gemstones in my designers. I hope this encourages some of you to get out there and find new outlets for the one of a kind pieces you make. Karen

  • Karen, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey!

  • Altagracia Vasquez says:

    I am in the process of filing an EIN to start my business of jewelry making to sell on Etsy. However, I won’t be selling only jewelry. I have skills in crafting and art sculptures with polymer clay and painting. I am stuck with the application of EIN. Being the maker, designer, creator of jewelry and selling them, does the jewelry business categorize that best describes the business as a retail or other? What applies to crafts, art sculpting, and painting and knitting and crocheting?

  • Hi Altagracia, this post may help you – The Benefit of Having an EIN Employee Identification Number – be sure to read all the comments below that post. You may be able to simply use your social security number (SSN) instead. Verify with Etsy whether you need an EIN or your SSN.

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