We all have at least one artist in our life, whether it's a friend in a garage band, or a cousin who sells tie-dyed shirts at the local farmers market, they’re all around us. Sometimes it seems like an overwhelming task, or dare I say it, a chore to support local artists. But I’m here to tell you there are some super easy things you can do to support artists without filling your house with hand embroidered teddy bears.
1. Social Media
This is by far the most obvious of ways to help artists.
It doesn’t take long and it may not seem like you’re doing much but give them a follow, a subscribe or share their content. Facebook and Instagram run on algorithms that restrict what you see based on preferences and what you’ve shown an interest in in the past. So the more artists posts you scroll past without a reaction or share, the less you see of these kinds of posts. Now this doesn’t sound too bad, especially if you’re trying to clean up your news feed, but the less interactions a business post gets the less people will see the post overall.
Of course, businesses can combat this by paying for ads and 'post boosts' but local artists trying to make a living from their craft (or even just a bit of extra income from a side hustle) may not have the budget for this. The reach of posts on social media can be surprising and although what they’re selling may not be your cup of tea, you never know: someone on your friend list might be looking for a wedding band.
Or if its free content and your friends are just looking for exposure, skew those views! Put the podcast or youtube video on (and if it really isn’t your cup of tea) mute it and go do something else. Those views may not seem like a lot, but they affect the algorithms in these apps that dictate what gets seen.
2. Showing off and connecting
This idea follows on from sharing posts on social media into a more personable area.
Talk about what your friends do because you never know who might be listening. Let's use an example from real life. A close friend of mine has been trying to break into the acting industry for a few years now. Her father was just walking along a beach with a friend when they were stopped by Angelina Jolie who was area-scouting for a film. She asked about the area and what it was like, and it never crossed her father’s mind to mention his daughter or even ask for a bit of advice for an aspiring actor.
Bring up what your artistic friends do in conversation. Show off the photo print you have hanging in your guest bedroom. Be proud of them and what they create. You never know when you could be the networking link they’ve been looking for.
Bit of a segue here, connect your multiple artistic friends and family. The arts can be a closed-off and difficult-to-maneuver industry and it's all about who you know. If you have a photography friend who wants to expand into portraits, and you know a bunch of actors who are always after headshots, connect them. This way both parties get what they need, and artists get some much needed exposure.
Word of mouth is everything in this industry, and it costs nothing to talk.
Let's say you’re already a huge fan, and you share every single post and you feel like you never shut up about your friends but you still want to do more. But you really can’t fit another hand-made ceramic mug in your kitchen and honestly you can’t think of a single birthday coming up where the person doesn’t already have one.
Make a donation. (I know, we said we wouldn't break the bank, but keep reading.)
This can come in all forms and it’s only your imagination that will hold you back. If they’re a family member or super close friend, buy them some supplies for their birthday that they can put to use. Check out their online profile and see if they have a Patreon or Kickstarter that helps support their side hustle.
Also, on a side note: stop asking for mates-rates (or worse, free work) when you do buy their products. The arts is a difficult industry to make a living in and you aren’t doing artists a favor when you say, “Look I got this locally-made wooden chopping board for mates-rates, 'cause otherwise it was soooo expensive.”
Price often turns people away from buying handcrafted and local items, when the profit made from these things very rarely cover the labour and supply cost.
Supporting artists is more than just buying their things, it's about just that. Support. I could talk for hours about all the little things you can do to boost your local artists but I’ll leave it here for now. All you have to do is put these steps into action.