Earlier this year I was musing on Twitter about how frustrating poorly managed Kickstarter campaigns can be, and what that meant for the suddenly very popular Patreon. I don’t know why but the service just seemed to spring out of nowhere (though it had been around for a while), and suddenly a dozen people I followed online had Patreon accounts for whatever it was they were doing.
It should surprise no one to learn that I am a strong proponent of supporting the arts, and being part of an arts community. I skewed my curriculum towards an arts-heavy education, and have been co-curating Sequential Art Gallery for 5 years now. I want people to understand the importance of art in their city, and have worked to stress that “art” does not always come in the form of oil paintings you don’t understand.
My conversation on Twitter that day—which you can read here; go ahead, I’ll wait—made me feel more encouraged about what made Patreon different, but I still needed to experience it for myself. Well, I’ve been supporting artists on Patreon for a few months now. Here’s what it looks like to be a patron of the arts in our modern age of technology.
I guess I have a “type”?
I’m currently supporting 7 creators, counting the one I added this morning. I was amused to realize that four are people here in Portland and the other three are outside the US. I find it personally amusing that for the most part, the Portland artists are all comics people, and the international artists are photographers.
Getting to know the artists AND their art
I’m not contributing much to any single artist, a few bucks here and there. Enough to see the extra content that interests me most, which is usually behind the scenes or work in progress stuff. I like seeing how the finish product is made, or the thoughts that went into it. I don’t always like pledge levels that give you physical items, but those can always be given away as a way to introduce others to the artist.
2-3 FCUs (Fancy Coffee units) per month
I like to imagine the total monetary amount I’m supporting on Patreon as units of Fancy Coffees. I don’t kick myself for spending x-amount of money on Fancy Coffee each month if I’m contributing at least that much to artists on Patreon. Lately I’m contributing more Fancy Coffees than I’m consuming (and falling asleep easier in the process).
As distant or engaged as you want to be
At first I thought I’d like all the updates being emailed to me, kind of like newsletters. But a lot of the content was redundant to what I was seeing through the artists’ other networks. I quickly figured out that you can adjust your email settings to receive only certain types of updates; I just disabled everything and enjoy visiting the site and browsing through everyone’s posts, which also encourages me to add comments and engage more with the artist.
Seriously, that’s it.
Supporting the arts right now doesn’t have to mean hiring an investment firm to handle your acquisitions, or buying art in a stark white gallery space without asking the price. You don’t have to worry about whether you count as the type of person who can legitimately call you a “patron of the arts”; if you’re giving money to an artist, to do what drives them in life, you’re a patron of the arts. Thanks, Internet!
Want to start doing more to support the arts?
- Find a few artists who are in your own city, and consider how easily supporting their passion also helps to grow your local economy.
- Also find an artist or two whom you have never met, so that you know nothing about their lives except that they create beauty.
- Use Patreon as a way to get to know those artistic strangers, and become a part of their digital community.
- Look at your life and find a luxury you enjoy to use as your personal unit of measurement. Use it to set your own monthly goal as a patron.