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How to support an artist for free

By Hollie Alexa Moxham

Wednesday 20 June 2018 Student Journalists

If you’re anything like me, you’ll often find yourself staring longingly at the Etsy store or Kickstarter project of a small artist and wishing you were able to financially support them. You love their work, you’ve been following them on social media for what feels like forever, but there’s no way you can afford the cost of independently manufactured merchandise, as beautiful as it is.

At this point, maybe you decide to take a step back. Their work is beautiful, but you know it deserves to be paid for.

However, there are many ways to support artists even if you can’t afford to buy their prints or merchandise. Having an active and engaged audience is an important part of being an artist, and if we can’t support them financially, we can certain help them in this aspect.

 

  1. 1.       Support artists on social media

Social media is incredibly important and influential for an artist, especially if they are a freelancer and depend on client work and commissions to pay their bills. A large audience of followers on Twitter or Instagram can really launch an artists’ career – but social media algorithms make this harder and harder to achieve.

On these social platforms, usually only the best performing posts are widely circulated to your full audience, so getting lots of likes and comments is crucial. You can have even more of an impact by engaging with something as soon as its posted – turn on post notifications for your favourite accounts so you can engage with it straight away.

Pay special attention to posts about commissions, freelance work or merchandise sales. In this situation, even a retweet can be incredibly valuable for the artist.

 

  1. 2.       Always ask to repost art and credit artists

Its always tempting to share work you love, even if you’re not sure where it comes from. However, its important to remember to ask the artist if you can repost their work, and even more important to make sure you tag and credit them. If you can’t easily see who made the art, why not use Google Images (https://images.google.com/) to find the original post?

Some artists are uncomfortable with their art being shared beyond their own account. It should always be easy to trace visual artwork back to its creator – not crediting artwork encourages online art theft and may give some people the impression that the art is ‘free’.

It is also worth noting that sometimes an artist will post work that they no longer hold the rights to – for example, a commission to create a logo for a friend. In this scenario, the artist is unlikely to allow you to repost the work as it doesn’t technically belong to them. This is a good example of why it is always important to ask before sharing.

 

  1. 3.       Talk to them!

Artists are people just like you and me! If you like someone’s art, you should always tell them. Maybe they’ve had a difficult day or they’re feeling down about their work, and your comment will truly make a difference. Let them know you love what they do and wish them luck with their commissions or merchandise sales!

 

You can do so much for an artist without even spending a penny, so definitely consider helping your favourite artists in any way you can. Its important to remember that artists earn a living off their work and they have bills to pay just like everybody else, so you can’t expect art for free. But you can offer them support on social media, always ask before reposting art (and make sure you credit artists!) and let them know you love what they’re doing.

If there’s an artist you really love, it may be worth saving up to buy a print or request a commission. Artists and small business owners do a little dance of joy every time someone pays for their work, and it is likely to be more rewarding than giving your money to a larger corporation. You can also support artists through platforms like Patreon, Ko-Fi or Twitch, and often these subscription services will give you perks for your monthly contribution.