As a working artist, you probably spend the majority of your days creating or promoting your work in whatever way you can. You may even occasionally think or talk about the fact that you wish there were more opportunities for you in your community.
But how much time do you spend supporting other artists’ work? If your answer is, “Not that much,” you’re not alone. Sometimes we get so focused on our own creative careers that we forget that artists can and should also be active art patrons to one another.
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The good news is, regardless of your income or your schedule, you can always find ways to support and encourage your peers’ work. Read on for some suggestions to get you started!
1. Attend performances
In any town or city on any night of the week, there are artists performing, and often they’re doing it simply because they love it. They’ll put their whole heart into singing, dancing, playing or dancing even if there’s very little (or no) money involved, and just a few people in the audience.
But you can show your support by watching, clapping, and telling them what a great job they did when they get off the stage. Find small theaters, concert venues or even open mic nights to attend once in a while—all you have to do is turn up and you’re a patron of the arts!
2. Give just a little
I fully realize that you may not have a generous expendable income at the moment—you may have recently even had to decide whether to buy groceries or art supplies. I get it. But, the next time you have $5 extra, give it to a fellow artist. There are a few meaningful ways to do that.
Where I live, there are always super talented musicians playing on street corners or on subway platforms. If that’s true for you too, drop a fiver in the guitar case next time you pass one whose music grabs you—you’ll make their day and maybe even help them buy groceries.
You can also explore sites like Kickstarter and Patreon to find a project that you connect with. Even if you can contribute a few dollars, keep in mind that every little bit helps and the artist you support will be grateful for whatever you give.
3. Commission a work
Need a new table or a cool painting for your wall? How about an outfit for an important occasion? Instead of paying a big corporation for something that’s, frankly, a little generic why not find a local artist or artisan to create something special for you?
This way, the money you’d be spending anyway will go towards supporting a creative individual trying to make a living off their passion. Plus, what you get will be truly one-of-a-kind and exactly what you had in mind. And when you want to feel fancy, you can say things like, “Yes, I commissioned that piece from a brilliant local artist.”
4. Visit exhibit openings
If you live in a city, or even a decent-sized town, you’re probably surrounded by art galleries. A little online research will quickly tell you about upcoming art shows, openings and exhibits in your area. In Chicago, for example, there’s Chicago Gallery News, which has an events calendar. And if you ever find yourself a gallery you really like, sign up on their e-mail list to stay in the loop.
Simply showing up at an art event is a great way to be a supportive member of your local creative community. And who knows? You may even end up doing a bit of professional networking yourself!
5. Give virtual props
You know firsthand that sometimes the most valuable thing you can receive as an artist is a genuine compliment. Given the fact that most artists these days have online portfolios or social media pages where they post their work, you can easily heap compliments upon artists without spending a penny or leaving your couch.
Explore online artist communities and give a little virtual love in the form of a thoughtful and positive comment. Go one step further by posting their work to your own social media profiles to help give the artist a bit of extra exposure, and then let them know that you’ve done it. It’s free for you but feels like a million bucks to the artist.
6. Gift independent
The holiday season is upon us and, for most of us, that means a long list of people you have to buy presents for. Instead of heading to the mall, head to a local craft fair or to Etsy, where you can shop the wares of artists from all over the world.
One surefire tip is to think of something your loved one is obsessed with, do an Etsy search and prepare to be amazed by the variety of creative gift options that seem made just for them. For example, is your mom a Downton Abbey fanatic? Get her these beautiful, handmade coasters. A gift like that shows special thought and helps to support a working artist.
You don’t have to be a millionaire living a life of leisure to become a patron of the arts. In fact, as an artist yourself, you have great insight into what other artists would actually consider helpful!
The best way to make your community a supportive environment for artists is to become an active member of that community yourself—and do whatever you can to help other passionate artists just like you.
Alex Soare is a professional opera singer, writer, and the founder of ArtRise, an innovative social network for artists. Check out www.Artrise.com to learn more.