5 easy ways to support your favourite artists

I started thinking about this recently at Chromacon. I was chatting with an artist exhibitor about the things we were enjoying about the event, when they asked, “Supporting the artists?”

Let me back up…

The Chromacon Indie Arts Festival is 2 days of creators showing their original work in illustration, comic, concept design, animation, sculpture, video games, and more…

Count me in! I took the bus up to Auckland. Instead of fighting the traffic, I could relax with my journal and listen to podcasts. Then 5 minutes walk to Aotea Centre and I found myself among hundreds of artists – folks like me!

So fun being on the audience side of the table. I got to admire the art, and ask their inspirations, art-making process, day jobs, where they’re from, everything!

And in answer to the question, “Support the artists?”, you betcha – I came away with bags full of posters, cards and prints.

On the bus ride home I started to sort through my stash of artist’s business cards and stalk everyone on social media. Because, you know, that’s what I hope people do for me after an event when I’m exhibiting! I started thinking about the things that have made me feel supported as an artist. And I realised that buying art is obviously a great way – but there are other things too.

So I came up with a list and thought I’d share!

1. Words of encouragement

I remember exhibiting at my first open studio event. I was so nervous about showing my art. What would people think? And say?! On the day, I met with such warm, encouraging feedback and interest about my art. It felt incredible and has made such a difference as I continue my art journey.

(I noticed at Chromacon, just how many of my conversations started with me gesturing to a piece and saying, “Oooo, I love…!”)

And it doesn’t matter how you do it either – in person, find their guest book at an event, leave a comment on their blog or social media, or flick through a quick email…

Kind messages visitors wrote in my solo exhibition guest book.
Kind messages visitors wrote in my solo exhibition guest book – thank you!

2. Follow on social media

Speaking of social media… It’s a great way to keep in touch with what’s happening the studio. And I’ve found Instagram stories are great for showing sneak in-progress photos.

If you’d like some recommendations of beautiful artist accounts to follow, let me know!

3. Hop on their email newsletter

A nice alternative if you’re not keen on the social media thing. It depends on the artist, but usually you get behind-the-scenes, announcements about new collections, invitations to events, etc.

You can look for a sign-up form on the artist’s website, or they might have a sign-up sheet or guest book if you meet them at an event. Certainly, any time I saw a sign-up sheet at Chromacon, I popped my name down for sure!

4. Attend their event

Bonus points if it’s the opening. And more bonus points if you make an outing of it and go with friends!

Me, I’ve been trying to attend more exhibition openings this year. There’s always such a buzz. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening soaking up fabulous art. And of course, trying the food and drink, and meeting people!

As my way to support the arts community, I’ve been writing reviews on my blog like this and this as well. (Tell me, have you been enjoying them?)

5. Buy something small

Postcards of my art at an event.

Postcards, cards, tea-towels, cups, posters… Tell you what, they make fantastic gifts. And are a great reminder of the artist or event.

One of my favourite weekends was the Coromandel arts tour. The whole time, it poured with rain. Poured – like someone in the sky was emptying a bucket. We had to race between artists studios (and still got soaking wet), and we nearly got stuck up there with the road trying to flood… But, we had such fun! We spent hours chatting to the artists and admiring their beautiful studios and art. And by the end of the weekend, we had such a lovely collection of art for birthday and Christmas gifts.

And I gotta virtual hug my artist bestie, Flavia. Her bright, floral watercolour tea-towels made choosing presents for the in-laws last Christmas amazingly stress free!

6. Be a patron or a backer

Patreon is crowdfunding for an artist, either on an on-going basis, or per work of art. As a patron, you get to build a relationship with the artist and get exclusive behind-the-scenes and other secret stuff.

Kickstarter and its ilk is crowdfunding for projects. Usually, you can select between different amounts to pledge, and you get a tangible reward in exchange.

Chromacon ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the event and keep it free admission. My pledge came with this happy Chromacon t-shirt (which is white so not for farm wear!)

And that’s my list!

Over to you. Do you have other suggestions or tips? What are your best ways to support your favourite artists?

Keep on shining bright,

Ailene