[Photo caption: I try to practice what I preach. I posted this photo on Twitter to draw attention to Other Press and John Boyne when they so generously gave me a free copy of This House is Haunted to read and enjoy.]
Let’s say you find a book, painting, photograph, set of earrings, etc. that you really like. Let’s say you have the privilege to meet the artist behind the work and you think they’re a pretty swell person. You’d like to support said swell person, if possible, but you are unsure how to do that outside of saying on social media “hey guys, this person is swell.”
This post is dedicated to you.
First and foremost, let me say on behalf or artists everywhere, thank you. Not a simple, quietly whispered thank you. More like a giant techno rave/fireworks show that has your name written in the sky and underneath there are the words “thank you, you swell person.” The fact that you were willing to take the time to appreciate an artist’s work is so important to those that call themselves artists.
There are ways, however, to go above and beyond in helping your favorite writers, painters, dancers, filmmakers, etc. If you want to help your favorite artists get noticed by others, consider some of the following suggestions. If you’re an artist and have additional ideas, please add them in the comments.
1) Buy their work. This, above all others, will help an artist. It is oftentimes how they make their living. If you think the price is a little high, consider that the artist almost always knows exactly how much their art is really worth. Many industry professionals also have the additional pressures of impressing their partners (gallery owners, publishers, theaters, etc. the list goes on and on) and money talks.
2) Go to their events. Showing up at readings, film opening nights, concerts, live performances, etc. makes a big difference for an artist. Usually an artist has a host venue that will invite them back if they make the place look good. This goes both ways — if no one shows up, the host venue won’t be very interested in inviting the artist back. Also, having people showing up to an event interests other people because they are curious about what is going on.
3) Talk about them. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your second cousin twice removed, that this artist is amazing and they should check them out because of this, this, and this. Word of mouth is still the best way to build a following. If people see that you are excited about something, they’ll wonder why, which may lead them to check out what all the fuss is about. It truly, truly helps.
4) Know your artist. Do you like the cinematography of a particular scene? Do you know who was behind creating the cinematography for that scene? What if you have a favorite book. Can you remember the name of the author if asked? Do you know where else they have been published? Is there a great guitarist that plays at your favorite coffee shop on Friday nights but you can’t remember her name? What about the artists behind the beautiful sprawling landscapes in your favorite video game series? It’s impossible to keep track of everyone and what they do, but knowing your favorites well can help a lot.
5) Now use social media. Some of us don’t have deep pockets (including the artists you support), but you can still help. Talking about an artist, sharing their work (LEGALLY), and interacting with others who love an artist are just some of the ways to make a huge difference. Tweet, post, pin, tag, comment! Follow, add, bookmark, and like their pages. Share work from an artist’s personal blog first, if you can. Share positive reviews. Share new releases or upcoming performance dates. All of these things help.
6) Be open minded. The great thing about art is that it is something that makes us both think and feel. It is a unique and rare experience, if, done well, has the potential to change cultural practices and social norms. That’s why you should be open to new artists as well as your favorites. If you only follow the same people all the time, then a great new artist may pass you by without you ever knowing. Afraid to try a new book because you’re loyal to a particular author? Afraid to go to a college dance recital because you’ve watched professional dancers for so long? There is talent and beauty everywhere begging for you to notice. Try it out. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. If you do like it then you’ve got another person to follow and appreciate!
With your help, we can create a society that perpetually appreciates and supports artists. So the next time you pick up a book or buy a movie ticket, think of the artists. We are smiling knowing that you are enjoying our efforts to create beauty and entertainment.
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Want to read my work?
Free first drafts on A Vase of Wildflowers:
Published work available for free:
Other published and unpublished works: