I first heard about Patreon several months ago; i visited their website very quickly just to absorb one or two pieces of information and find it a great idea. At that time I was starting to be very concerned about how the Changing Woman project was going (no goal reached = not enough money to keep going and reward backers as planned) and did not want to launch another campaign to ask for fanbase financial support. So I rapidly shelved the idea.
Early this year, with the changes on Facebook algorithms, my posts started to show up less on the fans feeds. Only about 20% of my Facebook fanpage was actually keeping up with my posts, which made people interaction (and sales) drop dramatically. I think that a lot of people (myself included) got used to use Facebook as a primary tool for sales and support – which now I see as a mistake.
But that was not everything. I got into a funk shortly after the New Year’s, which made all things become difficult to manage. Had communication problems with patrons, with emails getting mysteriously lost. Finishing all the commissions lined up since last year seemed to take a lot of struggle. All the social media thing became incredibly overwhelming. I lost my wish to participate in shows and booked very few ones for the current year – one of them a duo with one of my best friends and heroes, yay! Had problems with bank cards. Lived for several days with only 20 dollars in my bank account. And on the top of all that I got very sick for almost three weeks and thought I was going to die.
Meanwhile, in my studio-cocoon-bestplaceintheworld, I was painting tons of abstracts, going deeper in my search of new ways to represent the human figure, going after the crazy concepts in my mind. Participating in the social media madness without having a good reason for it became… boring. I began to question a lot of things. Why to keep
wasting spending money participating in art shows that were bringing nothing significant but a new line on my resume. How capitalism is engulfing every aspect of the modern life, transforming us and what we do in “brands”, dehumanized commodities to be neatly packed and consumed with the speed of a McDonald’s meal. The art world circus, where “making it” became a synonym of being showed by a super hype gallery instead of producing great work – and the “rules” I am supposed to follow to get there. All these things started to make me really frustrated. I thought there should be a way to bypass the commercial system that might kill true art if continues being nourished. As my art was changing, I knew it was time for big changes in the way I do “business”.
And then I visited Patreon again and learned what that was really about. I fell in love with the idea of creators being supported by the people who really care, finding the freedom to continue making art, and connecting with their supporters more closely. It is not like Kickstarter, where you ask for funding once and reward your backers with stuff, and your backers will give you money because they want the stuff. It is more like real patronage, or a permanent support – that can be as low as $1. Your patrons will do it because they consider that what you do is valuable enough and they want to show their love and help you to keep going. You give your patrons some love back with special things.
I thought that was a more “human” relationship than simply a make-stuff-and-sell one. I wanted to give it a try.
It will be cool because I will know who is really willing to go one step further to support my work, and I will be able to gather all these people in just one place and give them the best I can. I will show them works in progress and finished pieces first, give them privileges, discounts, special gifts, etc. We will hang out on line and talk live. And the ones who show support with bigger money will simply be entitled to snag artworks before everyone else and take them home without paying a single extra penny. :))
Here’s my page, let’s make it work:
Here’s Patreon’s Help Center with better info about how being a patron works:
And here are my FAQ’s (more topics to be added!)
- What exactly do you intend with this Patreon thing?
To put it simply: getting enough financial support to continue making art everyday without having to do things I am not proud of so I can make ends meet. I want to keep working hard in what I am truly passionate about, having time for trial and error, having time to work on my social projects, and so on. I don’t want to simply be a “brand” and having to deliver “products” to “consumers of art”. I want to help keep the human and cultural side of making art alive and well.Also, I want to make interaction simpler. Everyone that manages multiple social media pages knows how time consuming that can be. It is virtually impossible to answer every comment, every email, properly and in a timely manner – when you can answer them at all. I want to concentrate everyone in just one place of interaction and exchange.
- So are you going to make a living off Patreon?
No, I will continue making a living off my art, selling stuff and all I’ve been doing for 6 years. Patreon is just a way to have extra support so I don’t need to worry about anything but being an artist 100% of the time. Someday I might not even need it anymore or just use it for the fun.
- What do you plan to offer patrons as rewards?
First of all, I absolutely do not want people to support me just for the rewards. I want my supporters to be believers in what I do and the things I value. People who don’t only want to take a peek at the things I create, but want to go a step further in their support. Nothing less. Yes, there will be gifts and postcards and things and promo codes and the chance to get original artworks first than others (and cheaper!); there will be Google Hangouts and free classes and live painting; there will be more sharing of studio life, progress pics and videos than I usually do around the interwebs. And, who knows more? I love to create surprises once in a while. Also, I am really planning this to be a place to have fun and more interaction with everyone. So, feel free to let me know what you would like to see around there!
- SO we will have to pay to see everything you post on the internet from now on?
No! I will still keep posting artworks and works in progress on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc. Patreon’s content will be special though, and I want it to be almost like a virtual experience of being in the studio watching me create for a few moments every day (or almost.) I want it to be more intimate and informal and beautiful.
- Does your Patreon campaign have any relation with the Changing Woman project?
No, although it will also help me to conclude the project, that has been developing more slowly than planned exactly because often times I can’t afford unpaid hours. I really want to avoid the need to launch any other campaign to help me fund Changing Woman, or any future projects, without having concluded a big chunk of it first. Patreon is more like an ongoing support for what I do on a daily basis than a tool to help fund one-time separate projects.
- You talk a lot about commercialism, about keeping your art non-commercial and all that hippie stuff. Don’t you sell your artwork? Isn’t that being “commercial”?
When I mention “commercialism”, I mean “putting your profit before quality”, which for an artist also means doing stuff you are not really crazy about but you have to do because you need the money. Or have a public avid for consumption of your stuff. Or whatever you have to put your art through to meet certain demands. And this is what I want to avoid, because I don’t know how to do anything well if I am not really head-over-hills crazy by what I am doing. Yes, artists need to be paid for what they do, and paid well. We are creating culture. The efforts any true artist puts in their artwork and their development as artists cannot be put a tag on. It’s human life and experiences being translated into images, movement, sound, etc. How will you price that? How will you price the experience of being human? The least we can ask for is being able to make a living, and nothing can be more honest than making a living doing what you love and do best.