This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Patreon and the difference between charity and support

I've been on Patreon for about a year now, and find it fascinating to learn about. When I've talked to people about it, I've often found some emotional responses. And what I've discovered is that it has to do with attitudes about charity, and support.

Patreon isn't a charity site, it's a support site. These things look similar, but they aren't the same. Charity is given to help people who may have no other way to help themselves. It's a wonderful thing, and it's something that a lot of people do, through their church, through organizations, etc. And if you're someone who contributes to a charity, you know how relentless other charities can be. As soon as you give a dollar somewhere, it seems like thousands of other charities pop up, bugging you to give them a dollar, too. A dollar isn't much, but multiplied by thousands of charities, or even hundreds of them, it's more than most people are prepared to do.

So don't be surprised if you tell someone that you're on Patreon, and they wonder what charity it's for? And telling them that it's not a charity can be very confusing. Because Patreon isn't a charity site, it's a way to support artists, the same way that Lorenzo de Medici supported Michelangelo's art. Michelangelo wasn't going to starve, he had great skills in stone cutting, as all of his family did, but Lorenzo de Medici was of the opinion that Michelangelo's talents were better used doing artwork, not just stone work. And he supported Michelangelo because of that.

Of course, most people aren't as wealthy as Lorenzo de Medici. He had a LOT of bucks to throw around (or gold, or florins, or whatever they used back then). And so you really can't expect ordinary people to completely support you, as an artist, just so that you don't have to do that 9-to-5 job that keeps you from spending your time doing artwork. And that's where Patreon comes in. If you know someone like me, who would like to support your artwork, get on Patreon and I'll give you a dollar. I suggest it to artist all of the time. That makes me feel like Lorenzo de Medici, but at a level that my budget can handle. I'm not giving charity, I'm supporting the arts, specifically, your art. Or your writing, or videos, or whatever creative endeavor that you're doing on the web.

You will find supporters. And you must treat them well, by giving them the best you've got, and showing your appreciation, which will come naturally from you. And good supporters will ask you to do things, to maybe stretch your boundaries. Once Michelangelo's artistic reputation got out there, his support from the Pope including a request to do some painting. Your supporters will do that, and you may be surprised at how good you are. Turns out Michelangelo was pretty darned good at painting, and painted a whole ceiling! Go Google it, I'm not kidding. He considered himself a sculptor, and that's all.

You're not a charity, you're an artist. And your time is better spent doing your artwork than wasting your life doing two or three jobs. Get your stuff up on Patreon, let people see it. The ones who will understand will understand, the ones who don't will just walk on by, don't worry about them.