I know that the “downturn” is supposed to be in recovery and that things really are starting to look up for our economy, but I also know from my own experience and pretty much everyone that I’m close to, that times are still tight. That’s okay, I have complete faith that things will get better, and I kind of think that a slow upturn is probably better for everyone. Personally, I’ve seen enough bubbles… But I also know a lot of people that love art in so many forms and that want to support artists but don’t feel like they can spend any money.
I want to address all of you that feel that way and let you know that it’s okay and I understand and that there are ways to support artists that you know or just admire that can fit your budget, even if it’s nothing. I know how you feel, I feel the same way; I know lots of artists – painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, photographers – and I really do want to support as many of them as I can, but I’m on a budget, too. But I’ve found I don’t always have to break the bank to do it.
First of all, easiest of all and cheapest of all (no cost!) is to support artists you admire on social media. I’m sure you already follow them, but it really helps an artist when you actively engage with them on social media. On Facebook, don’t just “like” their page, but “like” their posts, comment on them, share their page and posts with your friends to help spread the word. The same goes for Instagram and Twitter has similar kinds of engagement, as does Google+ and probably even Pinterest. (There’s no way I can keep up with all those things, so I only know a couple intimately, but whatever media you’re on, the idea is the same.)
If you live in the same geographic location as the artist you want to support, another nearly free way to support them is to attend receptions, musical gigs or open studios. Most are free to attend and it’s nearly always some kind of party atmosphere. Don’t be afraid of an art gallery or club you’ve never been to – bring a friend and make an adventure of it – those places are really not as intimidating as you might think! And I can tell you that having people who just want to support me coming up to say hello and wish me well really does help me. As an artist, I’m putting my work and myself out there and it can be scary sometimes; even if you can’t buy anything, it’s always good to feel appreciated.
The next suggestion I’m going to make actually includes reaching into your pocket, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Many artists use fund sourcing websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo and run campaigns to do anything from recording an album to publishing a book, or funding a trip to an exhibition far from home. I haven’t run any kind of fund raising campaign myself, but I’ve helped fund these kinds of projects and it’s a pretty cool feeling. Depending on how the artist is running it, you can often help out for as little as five dollars, and I usually end up helping in the twenty dollar range because I’m comfortable with that, and usually there are thank you “gifts” for supporting in that range. Among the goodies I’ve received on top of my good feelings are a postcard from France, a book and a CD.
Finally, if you can manage to save up any cash at all, many artists offer something for people on a budget. You may not be able to get that huge piece that you wish you could get, but you’re doing both yourself and the artist a favor when you even make a small purchase. This mostly applies to visual artists, as usually a CD or book isn’t such a huge investment and many of us can squeeze that into a tight budget somehow. I know lots of visual artists that have something they offer for under one hundred or even under fifty dollars. If you don’t know whether an artist has something like that, ask them! Most of us are really pretty easy to contact and are happy to answer questions and do what we can to help our supporters. If you can’t manage to purchase what you want all at once, many artists offer lay-away, you just have to ask. It’s amazing how many of us really do want you to have a piece of our work when we see how much it touches you.
When it comes down to it – at least I know this is true for me – the biggest part of why I make art is to share a piece of myself with other people. I am driven by a passion to create and something created isn’t complete until it has been shared with someone else…