Why I don’t have a Patreon or other paid services

An explanation of why I don’t charge by using Patreon. And I only talk about my mom collecting my art for a paragraph.

Spouse and I got into a deep discussion over cocktails on our back porch one night this week. He’s a writer so we talk creativity and process and finding our audience all the time. We were discussing a hullabaloo that an online community I’m in had just weathered over content creation and viral marketing. In the course of that conversation, I was able to crystalize a few of my thoughts on why I don’t charge for anything but my finished art.

It’s all about the money, money, money

Talking about money is always tricky. But we need to talk about it anyway. I’m privileged enough to get to spend my time making art. My family made the decision a long time ago that I would stay at home with our kids (another deeply privileged decision). I started making art when the kiddos were firmly established in elementary school.

It had been a dream of mine as a child to be an artist. So I decided that I could spend some of my newly acquired free time while the kiddos were at school making art. That was almost 10 years ago. I did not set out to sell my work. That never even crossed my mind in the beginning. I just wanted to make and build up a catalog of work so I could say I was an artist. But then a friend asked to buy something I made for their office at work.

Mind. Blown. I was skeptical that she really wanted it, so I think I asked her if $25 was ok. Because who pays for my art? Up until then, my mom had been my biggest patron. (My mom’s house looks like the history of Misty art. She has a drawing I made in MIDDLE SCHOOL proudly framed and hanging in her house.) So I was a bit skeptical anyone would pay to have something I made in their space all the time.

Selling my art and the bigger issue of pricing my art has been an ongoing issue I’ve had to deal with over the years. I have used my friend Starr’s pricing guide for figuring out what to charge. Pricing my work for a long time was about recouping money for my material costs and just enough over so I could continue to buy supplies. Most years if I break even I feel great about what I’ve sold. For me that makes it a no pressure situation. It allows me chase whatever rabbits I want to chase and not have to worry about putting food on the table. That is all kinds of privilege.

Blogging back in the day

I’ve been blogging for close to 20 years. Spouse and I had a joint blog for many years. He talked about science and I talked about all kinds of random things and the beginning years of my art practice. Back then blogging was what people did to be on the internet because social media wasn’t a thing. (If you are bored some rainy Sunday you can read the archives at granades.com The archives stretch all the way back to 1999.)

I enjoy sharing my thoughts and connecting with people through this medium. It lets me both share and remember. Talking about art, how I make it, and the results both successful and unsuccessful, were a natural extension of what I wrote on the old blog. It’s interesting to me that social media virtually killed blogging. People have circled back around to the medium but it’s through places like Patreon and Substack. So far I’ve resisted the call of those two platforms. Mostly because of what I’m talking about here but also because I can only hold so many platforms in my head at once. OMG. ALL THE PLATFORMS.

So why don’t I charge for all this other stuff?

In the early days, I didn’t know if the work and words I was sharing was actually valuable. I just wrote so I could have a record of my stuff. I felt like such a beginner artist, charging for anything seemed absurd.

These days it’s a deliberate choice. I don’t want to be a gatekeeper for others to learn by charging for what I offer. I have the privilege of sharing a lot of insights and techniques for free so I take that privilege and run. Right now I have zero plans to make a Substack or Patreon. I plan to stay right here and continue to talk about art and blog like it’s the early 2000s.

So now you know. And with knowing comes responsibility.

Your part is this: Just because I share a lot of content for free don’t expect all content from creators to be free. Pay folks, particularly minorities, for their time and expertise. Take classes. Subscribe to patreons. And of course, buy art.

Really. Buy their art. Artists aren’t out here getting rich so if you feel moved by someone’s art, pay them for it. And if you REALLY want to make their day, pay a bit more than what they are asking. If someone is charging between $50 and a few hundred dollars, they are probably just squeaking by on their art sales. So your additional $20-$50 will help them out tremendously and make it possible for them to continue making art.

Plus! As a bonus, they will likely remember you FOREVER. Many artists I know treat repeat buyers (collectors) really well. They are the first to hear about new work. Artists often give their collectors first pick or special prices. Being an artist’s cheerleader by collecting their work is an exclusive club that usually consists of a few people. Who doesn’t love being in super secret clubs? I know I do.

As always, let me know what’s on your mind. Email me or tag me on socials. Also I’ve started using PencilBooth to generate a weekly micro-newsletter. If you are interested in getting news from me in your inbox every week, signup here.