Creative ventures are a brave and inspiring thing to witness, even to people without artistic inclinations. We like to romanticize the mind that sees connections and colors, themes and theories, solutions and stories – but general admiration doesn’t fully cover the everyday needs of a creative soul.
Today I’m sharing some practical ways you can support your creative friends based on what I’ve found received from the wonderful people who’ve helped and encouraged me, and from being a supporter of fellow creatives myself.
Scenario No. 1: I love a certain creative’s work, but I can’t afford to buy anything.
Authors, and painters, and crafters, oh my! There’s no such thing as following too many creatives, but when it comes to making purchases, we all-too-quickly reach our financial limit. Fret not! You can still be a patron of the arts with a little ingenuity of your own.
- Ask specifically for art and indie merch as gifts for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions.
- If you blog/vlog, do a highlight of some of your favorite authors, shops, podcasts, or products so other people can discover it for themselves.
- Don’t smile and scroll by. Retweet, do a feature in your Instagram stories, or share a link with someone who might like it, too! Even a quick comment can be enough to make someone’s day.
Scenario No. 2: My friend works in a genre, style, or medium I don’t personally like.
When someone you adore pours time, effort, and soul into making their dreams come true, it doesn’t sit right to cheer them on in word alone. The situation gets sticky when you’re not the right audience for their work.
Do they have a Patreon or Ko-Fi account? A few dollars a month can make a world of difference, especially if art is their primary source of income. And you can banish that “money for nothing” idea from your mind — creatives usually provide their patrons with exclusive content, a sneak behind the scenes, or even a say in what project they’ll work on next.
Are they working too hard? Invite them out for coffee, have an epic movie night, or play a game together. An excuse to take a break is invaluable to workaholic-prone creatives (hello!). It also feels really good to have someone who likes you as a human being, not just a fan or client.
Did they meet a milestone? There’s no need to be dismissive just because their art isn’t your thing. Celebrate with them! Send a card or maybe a gift. Buy them an ice cream. Spam some crazy-happy GIFs in their DMs. A little acknowledgement is always appreciated.
Are you creative, too? Being able to talk to someone who understands the creative process and unique struggles of being artsy-fartsy isn’t something to be taken for granted. Even if you work in different mediums or genres. Offer to be a sounding board or send them some #relatable memes.
Scenario No. 3: I already own everything my creative friend has made but I still want to help.
First of all, a loyal supporter like you is already a huge help, both financially and emotionally. If you still feel the need to lend your creative friend additional support, I recommend harnessing your power of HYPE.
- Write a review of their product if they sell through an online vendor like Etsy or TeePublic.
- Take pictures to share on social media and be sure to tag them and/or link to the product page.
- When you receive compliments (which you will!) be sure to let people know where they can find your friend’s work.
- Buy their merch/art as a gift for someone else who might like it as much as you do!
- Show up for online or in-person events when you can. Those kinds of numbers mean a lot.
Scenario No. 4: Me and my creative friend are the only ones supporting each other.
Starting up is hard to do. The internet feels vast and unconquerable when you’re trying to find people who might be even vaguely interested in your ideas, products, or budding channel. Having a friend who’s going through the same thing is a huge help, but if your friendship is starting to feel like a super-supportive but slightly-desperate echo chamber, it may be time to hit the refresh button.
Can you trade favors? Maybe you’re fantastic at writing quippy copy, maybe they’re a photography whiz. Are you as amazing at editing videos as they are at answering business-y emails? Pooling resources so both of you look as professional and polished as possible is a great way to get started on a tight budget. Just make sure and establish respectful boundaries so your friendship can continue to thrive.
Do you have similar interests or styles? Consider a collaboration! A diptych, a creative newsletter, perhaps a short anthology. Working together might be a refreshing change of pace for your personal creativity. It can also dissuade that Shameless Self Promotion Guilt™ from holding you back, because it’s not just your product.
Is there someone else you can ask? Even if you’re super-duper close, it’s not ideal for one person to be your only source of support. It’s not sustainable for your business, and certainly not great for your friendship. Maybe it’s uncomfortable to ask someone out-of-the-blue for something, but I believe it NEVER hurts to ask. If it works out, you have another person rooting for you. If it doesn’t, at least you’ve given it your best shot.
Scenario No. 5: My creative friend isn’t selling anything.
Most creative work happens behind the scenes. We can’t have an online storefront, an album drop, or a novel published without a whole lot of work being done first. Even if accolades and success are in the future, it may be a long time coming. And, goodness knows, we can’t get there all alone.
- Be a cheerleader. Your excitement and positivity might not seem like a lot to offer, but knowing someone cares about our art is HUGE. After all, art (in every capacity) is meant to be shared and seen by others. Don’t worry, there’s no such thing as too much encouragement!
- Share your world. Good books, spare craft supplies, and stories about your great-grandmother’s escapades in pre-war Italy are a wellspring of inspiration and can bring a shy creative out of their shell. Providing an artist with new discoveries and ideas is quite possibly the greatest gift you can give.
- Ask questions. Maybe you don’t know a lot about color theory, 3D rigging, or audio mixing, but that doesn’t have to stop you from conversing with your friends about art. Creative people don’t always get opportunities to talk about their work, so willingness to learn can be a lovely gesture if you’re genuinely interested.
- It’s possible to be a talented artist without turning it into a side-hustle. It’s okay to want something but not be ready to pursue it. It’s not always within our power to make far-flung dreams a reality. Try to understand your creative friend’s goals and needs before telling them what their success story should look like. Maybe one person’s unfaltering appreciation is all the support they need.
Thank you for supporting creatives! There’s no such thing as too much appreciation, validation, or empowerment for those of us who pour heart, soul, and lifespan into the work we love so much.
I hope this post encourages you to continue looking for opportunities to help the makers, creatives, and dreamers around you.