As someone who has been in and around the arts for half of my life now, more than, I guess, I feel that I can safely say that creatives need support. They need folks that will stand by them, stand with them, and who will help broadcast what they are doing (if the people broadcasting believe in those projects – falseness is never what we need). We need people to buy our stuff, and to WANT our stuff, and to give us a chance. We need patience as we figure out what we want to do, how we want to do it, and how we want to get it out to the world.
We need a hand.
The thing is though, that, as much support as we need, we need to take ownership of some of this too.
We need to take ownership of the process of the creation of our work.
Which brings me to why it drives me CRAZY to see people consistently standing, hand out, waiting for someone to pay for them to create their art.
It drives me absolutley crazy.
While I concede that you can use crowd funding as a way to build support for a project once you are established, essentially using it as a tool to gain investors, for me, I just feel like you need to show that you have a history of successful or at least completed projects.
You need to, to me, show that you are 1. going to see the project through and 2. are going to present a finish product that was worthy of support.
Ya gotta be able to show you can do what you say you are going to do.
Sure, all of us start our projects with big ideas and mostly the best intentions but life happens, and sometimes we get distracted away from the work. Or we lose interest in the project. Or it morphs into something else.
So what happens to the investors if life gets in the way?
What is the responsibility to just find your own way?
Isn’t the challenge of creation part of what gives creation its impact, weight, and power?
Isn’t the struggle what makes us, well, ‘artists’?
Do we really want to be on the same level as politicians, who would rather have someone pay for their interest in politics? Do we really want to be someone who asks another person to pay our way?
Sure, it used to happen, in another time, where artists had patrons that would give them stipends of allowances so they could focus on their art.
That was also another time, when art was a luxury of the wealthy.
I get it.
We all want someone to pay us to be artists.
To pay us to create.
In a perfect world, that might be how it works. People’s skill, their talent, and their vision would make it so that they weren’t forced to scrape and scrounge to create their art. Art shouldn’t be for the rich, in any capacity. To assume that someone who has no money, who is even homless, can’t create a work of art that moves people is ridiculous.
It’s a fact.
Then wouldn’t it be better to try to fund folks who literally cannot afford to do their art?
For me, the struggle has aways been part of the process.
After my first book came out I needed to find a way to promote and support it. I was alone, I wasn’t sure how to do it, but I had been part of the comic book world when we did our fanzine so I knew that a comic convention was a place I could go, could get a table, and try to sell books.
So I did that.
It felt strange selling one book though and nothing else.
I needed something else to draw people.
I needed more product and, let’s be honest, it was product.
There was art to create the work, and art at the heart of it, but I wanted to sell these things to support my creating more.
Art is its own reward and its own glory, but commerce is a part of it.
Sorry if that’s problematic for you but no one wants to ‘work’ for free.
Not even artists.
To keep promoting my work I needed other things, so I created chapbooks which consisted of several stories in a smaller form factor for just a couple of dollars.
From there I added more and more chapbooks until I could start to add more actual BOOKS to things.
Whether it was my chapbooks, or my regular books, my movies, or my art, I footed the bill.
That doesn’t mean that people didn’t help me.
That doesn’t mean that I am better in some way than anyone else.
This was my path, and nothing else.
What it did though is gave me ownership of my work and my art.
Sure, I’d love to have a publisher foot the bill, that’s the dream, right, but unless it happens I am going to pay my own way. Again, not because I am better than anyone else but because it’s MY art, and I can afford to do it. And if I couldn’t afford it then I can save my money. Or I can figure something out. For me, the responsibility to do the art and to fund it, is on me. Again, I appreciate the notion of a patron, and in many ways fundraising a creative project is a modern form of patronage, but it’s one that bothers me deeply.
It’s one I could never do.
If I was higher profile, and I did work that people clamored for and I wanted to do an independent work then I could start to see a reason to do it, though I still don’t think I would.
For me, as long as I have the ability to pay my own way, that’s what I’ll do. And if a day came where I couldn’t then maybe I need to re-think what I am doing, how I am doing it and, harshest of all, if I should do it at all.
I have always admired the DIY ethos of doing it yourself.
Finding a way to get something done.
Relying on your ingenuity to get your work out to the world.
We all want a rich patron, a publisher, a studio, or a gallery that will pay us to create.
It’s a goal.
Reaching out to people like you though and asking them to fund your passion doesn’t sit right with me though. It feels like I should fund my own hobbies, and my own passions. If you disagree then get it. You do you.
I figure if I am paying my way I serve one master, and that’s me.
If I found a publisher then we know the deal and know the consequences of it not being fulfilled.
If other people like me are paying…it just feels weird.
Buy my stuff when it’s done.
But let me pay for it to be created.
Let me be responsible for that.
If I want to make a movie then I’ll budget for what I can afford. If I want to think bigger then maybe I should wait until I can afford that or can find investors that are signing on as partners, not as patrons. They may support what I am doing but they expect something out of it.
I am not saying I am right on any of this. It’s something that gives me pause and weirds me out, I admit it. I know where I stand. I know that I hate the feel of it. I hate that people turn to others to fund their passions too often when others need to use those resources to save their literal lives.
There are ways to do it, I am sure, and avenues to take where it’s not taking money from others who need it more. There are ways for people to support your art, your creation, and your passion, and who understand and accept the risk.
I am sure there are ways.
I am just not sure I could ever do that because for me, I’d rather rely on myself and that DIY ethic to get things done, and to adapt as I need.
That’s just part of the process.
That’s just part of the art.
Hey, I write books, do podcasts, make movies, and review movies. Hit up the links and check out some of the other stuff I do.