When you think about supporting a fellow artist, what ways come to mind or would you like to see? Does anything even come to mind at all? Well, for the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about how can I really support other artists in more beneficial ways. You know, more than just liking and sharing their photos on social media. That’s the bare minimum and should be expected from your art peers by now. Personally, I'm refining how I support other artists and entrepreneurs. Here are 3 ways I have done so thus far:

Give useful feedback and be mindful of unsolicited advice

We are artists and we’re sensitive about our… well, you know the rest! As with all things, be mindful that your good intentioned advice isn’t misconstrued as ill willed. Letting an artist know there’s a glitch on their website or that it may be a good idea to include multiple photos of each product at different angles to increase marketability is not the same as suggesting a totally new product or service they should include in their shop. We all know how it feels to be haggled or questioned by potential customers. You don’t want to give off that same energy to another artist, even if that was not the intention. Seemingly great advice is lost when you rub someone the wrong way or if it’s offhand.

The difference between constructive feedback/criticism and unsolicited advice is tact. Suggestions are great, however, make sure they’re requested and if they are not, give useful feedback instead. Really think about your delivery and be sound in how your feedback could really benefit that artist. Be sure to approach it from an artist’s perspective, not solely from a consumer’s perspective. An artist who is pursuing high-end gallery placement might not be as interested in having their art featured on merchandise other than prints as another artist who is pursuing more commercial art. Having a variety of additional products (ie. wearable art, planners, notebooks, etc.) might benefit the latter artist more in the long run as opposed to having a limited selection available. Think about the direction that an artist is focusing on and their ultimate aspirations within their before giving your two cents. Just because an idea might benefit the customer does not necessarily equate to mutually benefitting the artist.

Purchase or donate as opposed to barter

If you really want to help a fellow artist, purchase something from them. Buy a ticket to their show if you can’t make it or buy an extra ticket just because. Even donate just because. It doesn't have to be large or anything. Help them eat and further their endeavors. Don't be afraid to put money back into your own community just like how your business does. And if their prices are not within your budget, donate or inquire about how to donate. Sometimes we, as artists, we too can be stingy with financial support. Yes I know, there have been plenty of times when I genuinely don't have extra money to give or spend, but there are also many times when I do and don't. How can we complain about not selling or finding the right audience if we don't even patronize the fellow artists that we know? That’s almost like having a crabs in a barrel mentality, but instead of not bringing another down, you’re not helping another get up.  

So why not purchase something from a fellow artist or donate? It doesn’t always have to be a “what am I getting for my money” situation, especially when it comes to other artists. Doing things without expecting something back actually feels good! Surprise them with a new transaction. You never know what receiving a sale or seeing that order confirmation alert can do for another artist, especially if it's a familiar name. I've gone months without a sale and the fact that an old high school classmate purchased a $20 print made my ENTIRE day. I marched right to that USPS that same and talked to everybody in sight! That sale encouraged be to keep going and reminded me that my work is appreciated. We all need that gentle nudge sometimes.

Give referrals to other artists of expertise 

Cultivate camaraderie amongst other artists and understand that we are not in competition with anyone but ourselves. The sooner you realize that we are all in this art journey together, the easier it will be to connect with other artists. Start building your artist community and get to know their niche, products, and services. There will be times when you are either too preoccupied, inexperienced (ill-equipped), or simply uninterested in certain opportunities that come our way. You may even stumble upon opportunities that would benefit another artist as opposed to yourself. Refer those opportunities/potential clients to fellow artists that more appropriately fits the criteria.  

My golden rule is if this opportunity was in my niche, would I consider this a ‘good’ opportunity? If so, pass it on to another artist. For instance, I received a client from another artist who specializes in more abstract pop art and illustration work because I’m a portrait artist. Most likely, I never would have had the opportunity to work with that client without the referral. Ironically, a few weeks later one of my past client inquired about illustration work for her brand. I was able to refer that client to that same artist with illustration experience. Giving someone else an opportunity that’s related to their discipline or expertise helps grow their portfolio and your art relationships, which is essential when you’re expanding your art network. And again, it feels good to connect clients with other dope artists! In that same note, it’s important to only give referrals for actual opportunities. As much as you value your worth and work, value that of your peers too. Don’t refer things you would never do as an artist to other artists. Stand firm, don’t undermine your work, or do work for free. You inherently support other artists and help change unrealistic expectations by not agreeing to them in the first place.

In all, be more generous and have a softer spot towards your fellow artists. We are all going through similar entrepreneurial journeys and struggles and don’t have to be in this alone. We should be more inclined to help our fellow artist that much more because of this. I implore you all to show more effort in your support when it comes to your own peers – give useful feedback, purchase an item/donate in good will, and refer clients to other artists in your art community. Do something that will benefit another artist more than just receiving exposure. What’s meant for you is already yours. You’ll never know when you’ll be on the receiving side of such blessings. Pay it forwards and go get you some good karma! :)