Vincent Van Gogh never sold an art piece in his life. Leonardo Da Vinci had trouble finishing many of his commissions because he had so many interests. He got tired of a painting before he could finish it. And these are some of the ones we know about. Imagine the number of artists and creatives who never got the chance to be known enough to be remembered.
Many living artists I follow say this is an amazing time in history to be an artist, and I tend to agree. It's an amazing time to not only be an artist, but also a creator. Thanks to the internet and its emerging technologies, many more people now have the chance to showcase their talents and skills and find an audience. We're less and less dependent on rich collectors and big companies finding us in order for our creations to be shown.
Making a living, though, is another story. I know there are those who dream of fame, but I think most of us just want to be able to pay the bills and put food on the table in order to keep doing what we love. We have YouTube and its monetization, but we need a gazillion followers to make bill-paying money.
Image by Hans Braxmeier
Then there's sponsorships... But, getting paid to promote products skews our creations. We'll tend to create things that shine those products in a better light, and we'll start approaching our creative process around those products. Our creations will suffer. We'll put our fresh ideas, or the ones that interest us the most at the back of the queue, because we have to pay the bills by making those sponsors happy first.
Then came Kickstarter and crowdfunding, giving creators a direct way to make their projects come true. Thousands of books, albums, apps and inventions now exist because of it and they would not have been possible without this concept. But, what about stuff that isn't a one time thing, like podcasts or any ongoing series?
Well, now we have Patreon. And thus we have the means to be as free as we can be in our creative endeavors. When you're a creator on Patreon, you choose to be paid either by creation (like a video, or a comic book chapter) or monthly. Your patrons are your fans - people that want to continue to enjoy what you make. They pledge an amount of their choice, and you set what they get for that amount. Many creators give exclusive stuff to their patrons, depending on the tier they pick. Some just give everything they do for free and their patrons are happy to contribute so the creator can keep making stuff for everyone to access. The difference with Kickstarter and their kind is the ongoing pledges. Of course patrons can cancel at anytime, but the concept here is to contribute steadily, instead of backing just one big project.
Image by Seongsuk Han
So, why is this a kind of revolution?
The Patreon model allows people to support creators for what they really are and want to do, instead of them trying to sell products or follow trends. It may seem like a small thing, but the new routes any creative field can take thanks to this is much bigger and more amazing than we can imagine, because of the variety it allows.
When only popularity is rewarded, everybody will tend to emulate what's popular, and that narrows everything down, including our minds and our sense of what's possible. So, with this concept we are allowing many more creators than ever before to make a living while expanding the creative diversity. Don't you think that's amazing?
Disclaimer: I'm not paid or sponsored by Patreon in any way. This is my honest point of view
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links: