5 Ways You Can Support Street Artists
Why am I writing about some ways to support street artists?
Simple- because street artists can only create art, whether that is a mural in the public space or a painted canvas, if they have a roof over their head, can put food on the table, keep gas in the tank, keep the lights on, pay for medication, feed the dog… you know, the day-to-day expenses of life. After taking care of life’s basic necessities, they still need to buy the supplies they need to bring their creative vision to life.
Read on for 5 simple ways you can support street artists.
A Deeper Dive into Why You Should Support Street Artists
History is filled with artists in all mediums who scraped together meager earnings to support themselves and their family, not to mention the paint, canvas, clay, brushes, kiln, marble or whatever else they needed to bring their vision to life.
Their work may now be proudly displayed, posthumously of course, in museums worldwide or fetching unfathomable bids by collectors at auction houses, but while the artists were alive, the struggle was real!
Street artists are no different. They, too, need basic necessities so that they can create art in the public space or even private collections. It sometimes surprises me that this needs to be said, but it does: street artists need love (and money) too!
There is an adage that one hears in all artist communities, one that speaks to the daily struggles of life as an artist: support living artists.
It’s a call to action, a reminder that we each have the power to change the life of an artist whose work speaks to us. We each can do something, no matter how small, that can help artists flourish, grow and continue to create.
So how can you support street artists?
Follow Them on Social Media
First up is supporting street artists on social media.
In this social media age, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, Facebook, websites and blogs are just some of the ways that artists can connect directly with their fans, admirers and collectors!
Artists share in-progress walls or canvases they are painting, recently finished work that you may want to go see in person, live events that they are participating in and other updates that you won’t want to miss.
By following the artists and engaging with them on social media, not only are you staying up-to-date on what your favorite street artists are up to but you are providing support and encouragement.
In any creative field, it’s important to take a few minutes to tell those whose work is important to us that, well, their work is important to us! The smallest of kindest words may be the encouragement an artist needs when the going gets tough.
So take a minute to follow your favorite street artists on social media and leave a comment on things that inspire you.
Tag in Social Shares OR Share the Artists Social Media Posts
Okay, so this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine! So listen up good…
When it comes to street art, many of people get caught up in taking a selfie or group photo in front of a wall that grabbed their attention and compelled them to whip out their phone.
In that moment, people aren’t thinking that an artist- a real person- created that mural, someone who had a vision, found a wall, gathered some spray cans or acrylic paint, stencils, wheat paste or whatever other tools she or he needed.
Many walls takes many days to complete, so in addition to the financial expense, the artist spent uncountable hours imagining, sketching and then carved time out of their day and/or night to create their vision in a public space- that very wall in front of which you are taking a selfie to share with your Insta friends!.
So when you take that photo or selfie in front of a mural, take a minute to see who painted it. Almost every artist signs her or his work. In this age of social media, most work is signed with the artist’s Instagram name or other social media handle.
When you share your selfie or photos of friends on social media, give the artist credit and tag them in the share! Seriously man, this costs you nothing and only takes a few minutes out of your day!
If you’re already following a street artist on social media whose work inspires you, take a minute to share this post with your friends family, neighbors or followers on social media. This takes just seconds to do and exposes the artist and her or his work to a much wider audience.
By giving an artist credit for their work, tagging them in photos you’ve taken or sharing their social media posts, you increase awareness of their work and their artistic vision. This can- and will- help increase the number of people who see their work, follow them, and can lead to (more) paying gigs.
Attend Special Events
Many street artists participate in live painting or other events at street fairs, bars, clubs, galleries, art events and other venues. Stop by, say hi and share a photo or two of their work on social media.
BUT before flicking photos and sharing on social media, it’s important to ask permission first! With all the legal grey areas that apply to street art and graffiti, many artists have very good reasons for not wanting their face shown.
If there is an artist whose work really speaks to you, why wouldn’t you want to go and meet her or him, grab a fanboy or fangirl keepsake photo or watch her or his work come to life in front of a live audience?
Buy Their T-Shirts & Other Merchandise
I’ll use myself as an example.
I’m not wealthy by any means but I do my part. I shoot photos of and write about deaf dogs and street art; this is not a field with unlimited cash revenue streams but that’s okay- I don’t do it for the money. I do it because it’s my passion.
Despite this, every so often, I have a few extra bucks left over that I can use to buy small things- t-shirts, sticker packs and other small collectibles. I wear these t-shirts on the daily- just ask my co-workers. And stickers? Not only is my skateboard helmet covered, I have black book collection.
Buy Their Art (or Commission One-of-a-Kind Pieces)
Many street artists also paint on canvas or create other smaller pieces. When you follow them on social media, you will discover new works that are available for purchase. For birthdays or the holidays, consider small handmade gifts or canvases by street artists instead of shopping at a big box store.
In addition to t-shirts and sticker packs, I have about a dozen original pieces by street artists inspiring me as they hang on my walls at home. If you really want something special, reach out to the artist and commission an original, one-of-a-kind piece. A wheat paste artist from the U.K. actually printed her work so that it could be framed… and also tossed in a few goodies to boot!
Street artists are artists who create their work in a public space, and we need to support them like any other artists working in any other medium. These are just a few ways you can support street artists, but the possibilities are limitless! Tell me how YOU support street artists in a comment below!
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