Most of us are all too happy to pay for reproductions of our favourite paintings, to search for unique pieces of merchandise in museums or shops or to find that perfect classical painting print that matches your wall colour. So why then is it so much more difficult for living artists? Of course, I can’t compare Van Gogh with myself or most of my contemporaries, but it seems that living artists are more often than not asked to: do something for free, offer something heavily discounted, or not supported at all.
Living artists need your support, and I’m talking about more than just a goodwill compliment from a loved-one or a few likes on Facebook. I’m talking about supporting them so that they can make a living. Just as your employer supports you with a steady job, working hours and a monthly salary, living artists should be granted similar support from their patrons. When you’re making money from your art, it can be a very shaky business, particularly during the beginning. I’m not vouching that you have to suddenly start buying a lot of artworks that you don’t particularly want or like: this would be patronising. But how about some of the below suggestions?
Check out your local crafts fairs
These are a great place to find hidden art gems. Local crafts fairs are full of handmade quaintly items, and chances are there’ll be some fine artists in the mix too. It’s easier to sell jewellery and decorative items than paintings or prints at these events, so make sure you take your time to check out any artists that are there, and if you’re not going to buy, at least have a good look around and say something nice.
Buy their originals, not prints
Artists create prints and reproductions for one of two reasons. Either a) they have sold the original painting but want to sell copies, or they don’t want to part with the original, or b) prints are cheaper and easier to sell than original, full-sized artworks. Of course, there are many artists selling amazing full-sized prints at some high prices, but that comes with a name and a brand and the customer loyalty that comes with it.
Share their art with your friends and people you think will enjoy it
If you’ve found a piece of art that you love, tell people about it. Tell them why you like it, where you found it and where they can find more. If you’ve bought something, from a postcard to a print or even a commissioned piece, talk about it, and if you’re doing this online, link back to the artist.
We’re artists: chances are we’re introverted and prefer to hide behind our canvases than really talk to people. But we love feedback and we particularly love compliments. Let us know what you like about our works (and what you don’t) whether it’s in a little email, a word in the ear, a thank you note or even an online review.
Search for art, bring more art into your life
Everybody loves art. Art is all around us, but we rarely search for it. Search for what art you really love. Perhaps it’s a specific landscape, a river scene, a colour scheme. Whatever it is, if you start searching and you’ll be impressed by the variety and creativity you’ll find, even in the oddest of niches. Chances are if you like something, someone’s painted it. Etsy is a great marketplace for finding truly original and one-off pieces, no matter what quirky things you’re interested in, from galaxies to the Tardis.
If you like it, buy it
It’s like that rather pricey pair of shoes you saw and then wanted, then changed your mind about, then went back for only to find they’d already gone. Great art is like that elusive pair of shoes: there’s never enough of them, and before you know it, someone else has bought it instead. Remind yourself what struck you about it in the first place, and why you should indulge yourself.
And on that note, don’t ask for discounts, or freebie or ‘exposure’. We work hard at our crafts: our crafts cost money, time and a lot of creative energy, so when you ask for these favours you’re belittling all our hard work, and that’s a shame.
So the next time you’re at an exhibition, a fair or you’re just browsing through your favourite artists, show the love and support.