ianrandalstrock (ianrandalstrock) wrote,

How to support an artist

Several blogs I read have links to this article today about "True Fans" as a way for an artist to make a living. Having read the excerpts, it struck me as something similar to an old-time artist finding a patron, except that in the modern world, it would be a thousand or so patrons each contributing just a little bit to the artist's upkeep. Turns out the author had already thought of that.

Synopsizing the piece (though if you're an artist of some sort, you could do worse than spend five minutes reading it), author Kevin Kelly says that the way to make a living, for an artist today, is to accumulate about himself a group (Kelly assumes 1,000, but the number might be higher) of what he calls "true fans." That is, fans of your work willing to spend one day's income (about $100) a year on what you create. If you have 1,000 of them (plus, of course, the less ardent fans who will spend less money on your work), you can make a decent living. One of the keys to accumulating these "micro-patrons" is interaction: Kelly feels that fans want to feel a part of the process; they want to interact with the artist.

I was a late adopter of the "we can make money on the internet" concept (see SFScope for my attempt at it), but I'm a strong proponent of the "interacting with your fans will only help your career" idea. I don't think the things I produce are (yet) worth $100 a year to anyone, but I can definitely see a simple progression from today to a point where I could be doing that.

Anyway, accumulating that circle of fans isn't my priority—creating the stuff that they may be interested in is—but it's something I'll keep in the back of my mind while I work.
Tags: art, creativity, finance, internet, writing

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