The internet has changed how many of us work. It’s created a culture where free is normal. There are some very good aspects to this – not least that many of us are too poor to pay for all the music, stories, art, essays, films etc we might want in our lives. I do not want to live in a world where poverty is a barrier to accessing culture and ideas, so as a matter of principle, I will always give a percentage of my work away. Currently that’s in the form of this blog, a free audio novel and a webcomic. You can support me by buying my books.
Many creative people live very marginal lives, financially speaking. Many art forms take a lot of time, so either you work full time for a pittance (big advances are very rare indeed), or you do something else to pay the bills and use your leisure time to create things. And no, making art of any kind to a professional standard cannot fairly be considered to be a leisure activity because it’s a demanding thing to do and requires discipline and considerable effort. My world is a better place because other people go to that effort to paint, write, sing, and think to the very best of their abilities. I want people who create to be able to do so, and this, for me, is also a matter of principle.
While in many ways the internet in recent years has reduced the earnings of creative people (platforms like youtube and amazon get rich, creators do not, for the greater part) it may also offer solutions. One of those solutions is Patreon. This is basically the old style patronage model re-imagined. Go back a hundred years and further, and it was normal for authors, composers and the rest to be sponsored by a wealthy patron. For whatever reasons, people with silly amounts of money don’t seem to want to spend that on creativity anymore. What the internet gives us, is a more democratic approach, where you don’t need an Earl to make it work.
Go to www.Patreon.com and you can give just $1 a month to support the work of someone you like. Someone whose work you enjoy for free, most likely. They will give you extra perks for doing this, so you get to be more involved in what they do. There are many creative people who are so marginal financially that a reliable $200 dollars a month can make the difference between eating passably and living on toast. 200 people who like what someone does enough to offer $1 a month in support can change everything for a creative person. This is a model that works. Most people using it will not become wealthy by most standards – many will still be very poor by any normal measure, but they will have a better shot at keeping roofs over their heads and having food to eat, and this is important.
If we want a good standard of creative, thoughtful work, we need people who are able to do more than a couple of hours a week on it. If we want the things we love, we have to take care of the people making those things, we cannot ask them to live on air. If you give a tiny amount in support of a creator you value, you can be part of an epic change for them individually, and for how money works in our world.
Let me round off by pointing you at some people…
Award winning Illustrator and graphic novelist Eric Orchard (and no, even with those credentials, he can’t afford the website and art gear he needs) https://www.patreon.com/user?u=162929
Druid and blogger Cat Treadwell (who does a great deal of unpaid work, and is not an infinite resource) https://www.patreon.com/user?u=396293