Illustration by Séania Strain
Sharing artists work is extremely helpful, but artistic support is not a trend, it’s not something that should be discarded once everyone else loses interest. There has to be some kind of follow through for artists to survive.
The decision to click the upload button on your work can end in a number of outcomes. You can go 3 seconds before getting struck with the immediate need to delete the image, you can be met with a halfhearted response from your followers, or in some cases you may find yourself plunged to the centre of the internet and inundated with huge amounts of support and praise for your work.
The latter option is one that is becoming increasingly common as artists build themselves a home within the social media world and share their work to a global audience. A beautiful space for artists to interact and gain visibility online has been created by platforms like Twitter, a platform where one decision to post can generate thousands of people to have your work exposed to. However, it is commonplace for individuals online to express an intention that doesn’t end up matching their actions.
What tends to happen is users claim to want to purchase from an artist they may have seen gaining rapid popularity on the internet. There is a series of events that are set into place when a number of people express a desire to buy work. Once a number of people express interest, the artist produces more work to prepare for the supposed rush of orders that are set to come. In doing so they spend money, time and effort, but likes and shares don't always mean profit. When these sales fail to manifest, they are left with stock that they may or may not be able to sell and a profit that is virtually non-existent.
A number of people who were called out online for their failure to follow up on their claims justified their lack of follow through by criticising the prices of the art. The claim of finances is understandable - there is a pandemic which has caused a plethora of financial difficulties - meaning that purchasing artwork isn’t something many will be able to do unless it's at a low price. But we are also so accustomed to getting produce from larger businesses such as Amazon that we ignore the labour and the costs that go into smaller businesses. There prices reflect this - and the income they need to survive.
Sharing artists work is extremely helpful, but artistic support is not a trend, it’s not something that should be discarded once everyone else loses interest. There has to be some kind of follow through for artists to survive. It’s a natural action to hop on the latest bandwagon, especially online where everything operates on a system based on numbers. However, this tendency to mindlessly comment and retweet the work of artists leads to false hope for creatives when it’s not followed through on.
It’s important to acknowledge that the ability to purchase from numerous small artists isn't an option for everyone but showing up is still great for those who can’t, it’s about supporting in a method that is easy and accessible to you.
So how can you support artists for free when you are unable to afford to make a purchase:
Sharing and circulating work that you like through story reposts or sharing with a friend allows work to be seen by people who may be genuinely keen on making a purchase.
Writing a review if you’ve bought in the past encourages others to also purchase as there is an air of legitimacy that can be given to an online site once reviews are in place. At the most simplistic level likes and comments are invaluable in supporting an artist online. At one level it allows for algorithms to boost viewing of any posts an artist continues to make but on another it validates and encourages artists to keep creating their work.
There are a number of benefits to the combination of online platforms and the artistic world, one of the most significant being the amazing networks and communities that can be built and can encourage creatives to continue producing incredible works and designs. However, we have to be mindful of how we engage with the works of artists online in order to ensure actions match up with intention.
Article by Rachella Lartey