Calling All Artists' Friends: Are You Really That Supportive?

I’m sure we’ve all been told about how important it is to support small businesses, local artists and musicians. Many of us may even thrift shop or go to farmer's markets on weekends. Plus, with sites like Redbubble and Society6, it’s become much easier to help creatives from all around the world. If you’re reading this thinking “Yeah, I do this,” congrats! On behalf of all creators from Da Vinci to my tattoo artist, I send you virtual kisses.

These are all acts that go further than you can imagine, and I implore y'all to continue them. But now I ask you to take a step back. How many of your friends make art? How many have shown up with a “doodle” (which you thought was actually a masterpiece), a short video of a fun day you had or a snippet of a song they thought you’d like? Now, do you remember them fighting to get commissions from others? Even if you only know one, it’s time to start helping them out.

There’s a misconception that because you’re friends with an artist, you don’t have to pay for their work. I was scrolling through Instagram and my friend had posted a mockup of some cover art she’d made. In the caption, she went on to list pricing and such, and even said: “Please help out!” One of her close friends commented “Bitch! You better make my album cover!!” Maybe she didn’t mean anything by it, but my friend immediately called her out. 

I’ve seen the same two scenarios go down when an artist is trying to put out their work. The first is when another creative believes that because they’re both in similar fields, there should be a sort of camaraderie that means they won’t have to pay. That because they both know the “struggle,” they’ll help each other out. Honestly, I sort of see that as just an attitude of crappy entitlement. If they really know the struggle, then the person asking should be willing to push the other forward. The second happens when a person who’s not an artist simply doesn’t understand the gravity of what they’re asking for. It’s not inherently their fault but it’s unfair for them to automatically assume that since an artist’s good at what they do, it comes easily. Because then what occurs as a result of that attitude is a reluctance to properly support the creator. 

Although many things in life aren’t black and white, a lot of artists’ friends do only fall into one of those two categories. So try to be the colorful third! Match that artist's energy and offer your friends anything you can give in return. Most of the time, your friends will refuse compensation or charge much less than they would others but that comes after an offer is made. Honestly, even if they do make it for free, you should still Venmo them a little something. Digital money can’t be pushed away, folks! They pour their hearts out into their pieces. They stay up for hours, they buy their own materials or software and they reach out to make sure the progress is matching your vision. It’s honestly only fair that their effort gets rewarded. 

So, next time your friends are out there searching for commissions, remember to ask yourself one thing: "Am I really that supportive?"

Images: 1, 2, 3