WHAT IS THE DILETTANTE?
The Dilettante is a place for creative outcasts, artists, culture magpies, lifelong learners and anyone who enjoys getting swept up in art and culture of the past.
We mine history, culture and the arts to bring together a miscellany of inspiration, advice and trivia. With bitesize biographies on marvellous humans, articles on mythology, etymology, cocktails and creativity, The Dilettante is for anyone searching for an escape from the humdrum of daily modern life, noisy media and mundane content.
We come best served with a nice tipple, so please put your feet up and read on to discover more...
ARE YOU A DILETTANTE?
An admirer or lover of the fine arts; popularly, an amateur; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge, desultorily, or for amusement only.
Derived from the Italian past participle dilettare, meaning ‘to delight’, Dilettante entered the English language in the mid-eighteenth century to refer to a person who delights in the arts.
As attitudes to the arts evolved over time so did the word's meaning, and by the early 19th century dilettante became a derogatory slur suggesting superficiality, or someone who shouldn’t be taken seriously. No longer was it admirable to be an interested amateur with a wide range of interests, or to enrich one's life through varied creative pursuits, instead a dilettante became known as a dabbler and a somewhat pretentious one at that.
If you have ever felt like an amateur or a jack of all trades, if you happily try your hand at a range of creative pursuits, if you are endlessly curious about the world, then perhaps you too are a dilettante.
To hear our story, read on.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The Dilettante was founded on a chilly December afternoon in 2014 when two friends, down on life, met for a few strong gins.
Bothersome standards of creative perfection had burdened the pair for too long and neither could work out what the hell they wanted to with their lives. They both longed to find a thing - a particular medium to pursue or an art to throw themselves into - but with such a range of interests they had each been feeling creatively paralysed. It was time to hatch a plan and start making something.
The conversation turned to the concept of the dilettante, which seemed a perfect nom de guerre to match their current predicament. Opting to embrace the dilettante's playful exploration of creativity, they decided that the freedom to play, explore and exercise curiosity was perhaps the answer to their problems.
As the gin did its thing they said some cheers to stuffing the snobs who sneer at beginners and the critics who snub the unfamiliar. The Dilettante would serve the dabblers, the outcasts, the culture magpies and anyone who felt disjointed from the modern world of perpetual perfection and mediocre distraction.
The Dilettante Society was formed to round up the creative weirdos in their home city of Nottingham, and so The Dilettante Gazette was born, taking the form of a free broadside zine. Take a gander at all 34 editions here!
Over the years, The Dilettante has since evolved, incorporating creative events and workshops, collaborations with brands and businesses for bespoke advertising, and moving into the digital world.
Sophie first sprang to life in Belle Époque Paris as a classy vagabond and flower girl. A self-proclaimed moustache fancier and flaneuse, she enjoys psychogeography, collecting floor treasure, and learning about history's great eccentrics.
Having quit her day job in 2018 to study a masters in Magazine Journalism, today Sophie cobbles a living as a freelance writer, marketer and designer.
Residing in Nottingham with a kitten named Shenanigans, F Dashwood has been an avid Byromaniac since birth and one day hopes to make an honest man of the Romantic pin-up poet. She successfully grows a startling variety of vegetables and has an unhealthy obsession in William Morris prints.
Having left The Dilettante in 2017, Dashwood now spotlights as a marketer while by night she performs as one half of post-punk duo Office Goth.