The Tip Jar – on tipping artists

How do you support artists other than purchasing their work?

“Liking” on social media really isn’t going to pay anyone’s bills, is it? I’d love your input on this – I’m just going to throw out some ideas and some comparisons.

Much of American society is trained, or at least open to tipping in certain situations and for certain occupations. We tip waiters and bartenders, baristas and barbers, the pizza delivery guy and the hotel porter, the taxi driver and the red cap at the airport.

Have you ever tipped an artist or a creative? Perhaps. What about the busker in the subway station with the open violin case? Throw a few bucks his way? Ever downloaded free graphics online, and clicked the little button to “buy a cup of coffee” for the designer?

Atlanta-based performance artist, Allison Rentz, had an idea in 2015, which I, personally, love.

If you like some art but you aren’t going to buy it, give the artist some $ to thank her for her beautiful work. Tip Your Artist! Art IS work.
Join the movement by bringing your dollars to art openings and tip the artists if you like a piece. Do you think you could manage $1 per piece? Show some ART love!

Allison designed and sold, or gave away “Tip Your Artist” envelopes. Think about it. You go to an opening or a show at a gallery. You like the work, but there is nothing that you are going to buy (for whatever reason – price, size, color scheme, no space, etc.) So, Allison proposed that you tuck a dollar bill in one of her little envelopes, just to say “thanks” and show your appreciation. More about “Tip Your Artist” is on Allison’s Facebook page here.

The other way to “tip” that is regaining traction – is the patronage model. Throughout history, arts patronage was the show of support that society’s wealthy families or political/religious leaders provided to artists such as musicians, painters, and sculptors. This patronage is usually through sponsorships or commissions. Patreon is connecting creators with their biggest fans and enabling those fans to become paying members, or patrons, of their favorite creators. Co-founded in 2013 by YouTube star Jack Conte of the band Pomplamoose, they believe that every creator in today’s digital economy should get paid.

Patreon is the best place for creators to establish ongoing and predictable monthly revenue and expand their career as a creator. Patreon also helps fans connect in a new way with the creators they love most. Today, Patreon pays millions of dollars every month to the tens of thousands of creators who have Patreon pages, whether they are creating podcasts, music, fiction, game streams, online videos, photography, visual art, and more.

Patreon’s mission:

Oh, nothing short of helping every creator in the world achieve sustainable income. We’re making this happen by building the best platform for creators to make money, run their creative businesses, and connect with the fans who matter most.

I’d encourage you to take a look around and follow some artists on Patreon. It’s a very different platform than Kickstarter or Indiegogo. While, in my mind, Kickstarter or Indiegogo are great for project-based requests, Patreon is really focused on sustainability. Even artists that are only getting $30 a month through Patreon know that they can cover a monthly bill or put gas in the car while they endeavor to create art. What are your thoughts about tipping, patronage, and sustainability for today’s artist? I’d love to get your thoughts and start a conversation. Leave a comment below.


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