I don't make any money from my art; so from that sense I've never been a professional artist. I happen to like it like that. If someone likes my work and would like a copy then that pleases me, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it if they don't. I don't create for an audience. If there is an audience, well that's a bonus. I create because I feel the need to create. Some might argue that to make a living from art is to sell out because you are then creating for a market. But if you feel that your work isn't compromised and you can make a living then I say good luck to you. I wish you no ill. For me, my position as a free agent allows me to create the art that I truly want to produce because I have absolutely no pressure on me at all to produce anything other than that.
For as long as I can remember I've been a non-conformist. Seems to me that it is those who refuse to conform and those that challenge are the ones who encourage and facilitate change. As an artist I think it is important to challenge. Challenge orthodox thinking when you think that it may be flawed. Just because the zeitgeist suggests one thing it doesn't mean that you have to accept it, and that you can't challenge it. It's healthy to challenge. Creativity thrives when one, to use a phrase I dislike, thinks out of the box. Conservative thinking isn't really thinking, it's just a displacement activity. If creativity isn't radical is it really creativity? I'm not going to answer that particular question. You decide.
I think that judging art is just a ruse to monetise it, to turn it into a commodity. People who do this have no interest in art itself just how much money they can make from it. Sponsorship, brand aligning and art competitions all damage art.
Competition doesn't produce excellence it produces an outcome that is of sufficient criteria to be measured or judged to be better than the ‘rivals’. All art is only ever in the eye of the beholder. It can only ever be subjective. Therefore art can neither be good nor bad. Just what you like and what you don't like. Art cannot be judged.
I recently posted in an art group on Facebook about my opposition to competition in art. Quite a lot of lively discussion ensued. Quite a number of artists grasped what I was saying. Sadly, quite an aggressive small number couldn’t. I had challenged something in their tiny little comfortable world and they couldn’t cope with it. They were being asked to think and it made their brains hurt. Show me a reactionary and I'll show you an idiot.
Popularity is no measure of quality. Chicken, lager and milk chocolate are all very popular even though they all taste like shite. What do the masses know?
Art has no quality standards. Art is beyond judgement.