The Arty Blogness of Ansate Jones

7 Ways You Can Help Your Artist Friends

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One of the things I’ve noticed since becoming a full-time freelance artist is not only how different the workflow and general vibe can be compared to a 9-5 job… but also how the job is perceived from the outside. You probably hear a lot about how potential customers can devalue artistic work as opposed to, say, dentistry or the tech industry or one of those ‘actual’ jobs. There’s the idea, too, that art is somehow ‘magic’ or that we are tapped into a supernatural source from which we derive our talent or creativity. But I think what a lot of people really do not understand is just what to DO with a friend who’s decided to
(gasp!) Go To The Art Side. I used to feel all alone and misunderstood until it dawned on me (with help from amazing artists like Amanda Palmer) that people really DO want to help.

They just aren’t sure HOW.

Lately people are telling me this outright– that they wish they could help me more with my art career but they don’t have money, or don’t ‘know anybody’, etc. etc. This blog is for all of you people, because there are actually many surprising ways you can help me out (or any artist you love, really) that require little or no effort/connections/money on your part.

 

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1. Share, share, share.

The number one way to really help an up-and-comer of any new business, art or otherwise, is to make them known! Get the word out there about my work. Share your favorite piece with your friends and link back to my page or site! When I have an important announcement about an upcoming show or a sale, consider sharing that too! Artists can’t get anywhere without building an audience, and one of the ways to do that is through word of mouth. The best thing about it is that it’s free for everyone!

 

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2. Get connected with me!

That way you can not only know what I’m up to, but also what I can do for you. Sometimes I also might need specific help with something and then I’ll ask my audience for ideas. It could be anything from “Does my profile pic make my butt look big?” to “Anyone know how to get acrylic paint off a cat other than a close shave?”

There are lots of different ways to keep track online, such as signing up for my mailing list, liking my Facebook page, and/or following me on my other social media sites (listed below).

Offline, you can come to one of my shows or events! And by the way, if you see an artist at a show or gallery that you’re really into, for the love of all that is arty, TAKE THEIR BUSINESS CARD. Think of it this way: they’ve gone to the trouble of paying for the printing and shipping (and sometimes the design) of these things so you might as well partake and make them feel a little bit of love. If you don’t see one, ask for one. They will usually at least scribble down some contact information for you.

A lot of artists also have paper signups for e-mail lists. Don’t worry about spam– I have never been spammed by one of these and I sign up for tons. These things are usually monthly or even less frequent because we artists are generally very busy doing art, not e-mailing! And using an all-purpose Gmail address to sign up for things is a good way of insuring next-to-no-spam in general.

 

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3. Give me feedback.

This is always super important in the art world, or even just for anyone striking out on their own. We don’t have bosses telling us what to do– our audience is our only form of outside feedback.

What is feedback? It can be as simple as letting me know what you think of my pieces. Here are some sample questions to give you an idea:

  • Would you buy one?
  • What would make you want to buy one?
  • What would you like to see as far as products or subject matter?
  • Is there anything that has stopped you from buying something of mine?
  • If you have bought something of mine, is there something about the process or result you did not like or think I could do better?

If you don’t feel like playing art critic, even just going through my website or taking a look at my social media feeds and seeing if they make sense to you, if things load right, if links are broken, if I said something stupid or offensive, or if things look abominably complicated or ugly… this is all extremely helpful to me. I want to make sure that what I think I’m saying, other people can actually hear. And anyone, artist or not, can let me know what they’re hearing and how I might improve my message.

 

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4. Ask me questions!

Another form of feedback, really, because it lets me know what is still unclear or what might be interesting to explore in the future. I base a lot of my blog posts on questions I receive or conversations I have with others. Beyond that though, it again lets me know if I need to strengthen what I’m saying in parts. Maybe I think what I’m babbling makes sense and it doesn’t! Or maybe there’s some weird conception out there about what I do that needs tweaking. The greatest thing about questions is that it lets me know who’s out there and paying attention, and what they Want To Know.

 

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5. Help me look for places to sell.

I am always scouting for possible venues for my artwork, which can include galleries, cafes, shops, fairs, marketplace pop-ups, and so on. You may know of a cool place that always has art on the walls, or maybe even looks like it’s in need of it. You may hear offhand of festivals that most likely will call for vendors. There may be some cool website you think I may want to check out for social media or sales purposes. Let me know! I used to be kinda ‘meh’ about suggestions like this, but then I grew up and realized that not only did people mean well, but they had some pretty useful advice. So even if you think I’ve heard of it, just assume maybe I haven’t! Also, don’t assume you’re too far away. Shipping is something I’ll consider if the venue seems cool enough and the terms make sense!

 

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6. Introduce me!

Everyone knows someone, even if they don’t think it’s a super important connection. Often things that don’t seem art-related are! You may know someone who works in a cafe or shop, for instance, or whose company participates in Art Walk activities and who would be willing to hang my art or sell for consignment. Or you may know someone who has been looking for a new logo design for their company, banner for their website, photographer for their event, portrait artist for their family, gift for their loved ones… the possibilities really are endless. I’m betting you probably know a couple of other artists, which believe it or not is a very helpful connection for sharing information, collaboration, and even just moral support from a fellow in the struggle. And sometimes even jobs! I got one of my very first commissions because I just happened to be sitting next to a fellow designer who had too much work on her plate at the moment.

 

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7. BUY SOMETHIN’ WILL YA.

Of course buying from me is a great means of support, if you can. There are a lot of different ways to do this, too.

Fine Art and Products

I sell in several shops (see my list of social media above) and also do some local art shows and galleries. Art makes great gifts, especially if you do buy from one of the print-on-demand sites like Society6 because they will print on many different types of products including clothing, coffee cups, and even throw pillows and blankets these days!

Commission Work

I take commissions and heavily encourage you to hit me up for some if you are looking for special, one-of-a-kind items and gifts. I do portraiture and design commissions as well as event photography, and at the moment have extremely reasonable rates for all three. (See my pricing info here) Sometimes the photography and the portraiture can overlap– if you have a personal photo with some flaw in it, or you want to make some aesthetic changes, then I can repaint it to your liking.

Crowdfunding

I have a Patreon page where you can contribute as little as one (1!) dollar a piece. This is great for people who just want to help keep me going without a tremendous amount of effort. The money does add up, it makes you part of a special circle of fans, and it is a major encouragement to me and other artists. It tells us our work really is valuable and that people want to see it. There are even special treats for each tier of donations– super cool if you’re like me and love behind the scenes info.

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Overwhelmed? Inspired? Know that just by reading this blog you have helped me out already. Now go share it with fifty of your closest friends!

All images in this post were taken as part of a photography project in 2012 called “Flying Solo”.
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