by The Professional   January 10, 2008

—Featuring an audio interview with award-winning experimental filmmaker Coleman Miller (creator of the festival favorite short "Uso Justo") on what distinguishes a pro from a dabbler and he offers some friendly advice for other aspiring filmmakers

In the last decade or so, there has been a revolutionary democratization in access to, production and dissemination of artistic content in every media. An array of discipline-specific tools that would once have been available only to “professionals” is now on the shelf at Best Buy. Free blogging software lets anyone instantly publish their writing for the world to see; Photoshop and a digital camera allow you to capture and manipulate shots without setting foot in a darkroom; and a hand-held video camera turns a buff into an auteur with the push of a button. Nor does formal education hold the same kind of monopoly on expertise it once did. Obscure arcana in any field is free for the taking for anybody with a fast internet connection. So, we have to ask: Is there an essential quality outside these factors that distinguishes a pro from a pretender? Or, to flip the question around: With so many people now engaged in creative endeavors of some kind—for hire or not—and with much of their work available free of charge online, is it reasonable to expect to make art one’s day job?

For this issue, we ask award-winning filmmaker Coleman Miller about the conundrum of making ends meet by making art, and he ventures some trenchant observations about what distinguishes the serious artist from the dabbler. Also, we’re looking for your comments and contributions to a community-wide discussion on arts coverage in Minnesota in a featured forum. With the media and arts landscapes evolving so quickly, and with readership and outlets for traditional arts criticism disappearing fast, it’s time to take stock and look ahead. Plus, a selection of articles covering a spectrum of artistic disciplines drawn from MnArts magazine, a slew of opportunities for artists of every stripe, and events to suit every taste that will keep you happily occupied in the coming weeks.