Brad Blackman's Studio, October 2018

How to Make an Artist’s Day

Here’s how to make an artist’s day — showing your artist friends your support is easier than you think.

Have an artist friend and want to support them but you don’t know how? It’s really not hard to support your artist friend. Yes, make an artist’s day by buying their art! But sometimes you can’t. Read on for ways you can support your artist friend, mostly by showing up and talking to them about their art. Believe me, it will mean the world to them!

1. The best way to make an artist’s day is to buy their art

Yes! Buying an artist’s art is the best way to show your support and make that artist’s day. By doing that, you demonstrate that their art has value and that someone wants to pay for it. If you can’t afford their art right now, keep reading.

2. Next, get other people to buy your artist friend’s art

If you can’t afford your artist friend’s art right now, that’s okay. I bet you have other friends who can! Tell your other friends about your artist friend’s work, and get them to buy it. Learn the stories behind your friend’s work, and repeat that to your friends. Stories are the key to falling in love with art.

Make an artist's day by showing up and asking good questions

Brad Blackman’s Studio, October 2018

3. Make your artist friend’s day by going to their openings

Art openings are a lot of fun! There’s no need to be intimidated by them. Trust me, you’ll find more “weird” people at concerts than at art shows. Just put on a trendy outfit and enjoy the free wine and cheese and talk about the art. Talk about how the art makes you feel. Nothing will encourage an artist more than hearing you tell them about how their art makes you feel.

4. Ask them what they are working on

Artists want to tell you what they are working on, but they might be afraid to share it for a number of reasons. Making art is often deeply personal, so it can be risky to share it, because to the artist it represents something close to their core. It’s extremely vulnerable, and vulnerability takes courage. So artists aren’t likely to just tell you what they are working on, unprompted. That’s why you need to take the initiative and ask your artist friend what projects they have going. If they’re comfortable with you, you’ll get an earful. Or you might hear lamentations about how nothing is happening.

5. Ask them what they want to work on

Sometimes your artist friend is working on things that they don’t really like. I know it sounds crazy. But oftentimes to pay the bills, we artists work on things that sell, not the things we really want to do. Or they lack the courage to do the thing they want to do the most. There is a strong correlation between art and fear. Asking your artist friend what they want to work on can motivate them to take action on those things that need to be brought into the world. Encourage your artist friend!

6. Recognize that for an artist, there’s not a lot of separation between art and life

When you recognize this, your artist friend finally feels seen. Artists often see their lifestyle as a work of art, placing their work and their life in the same container. Their work is their life, and their life is their work. And when your work is your art, there’s not much distinction between art and life. A lot of times, for the artist, it’s all the same thing.

The artist lifestyle can become overwhelming and exhausting, so you might need to gently remind your friend they don’t have to do art all the time. It’s okay to breathe.

7. Remind them to get out of their own head once in a while

Again, your artist friend needs to be reminded it’s okay to breathe. Just go out for a good time. I’m writing this roughly 100 days into the 2020 Coronavirus Lockdown, so it’s hard to remember what it’s like to go out on the town. But it’s good to enjoy life while you can. Go for a hike. Get drinks and good food. Go to the movies. Grab coffee and talk about the books you’re reading. Have a picnic or a cookout or a fancy dinner. Team up to help a great cause. Doing something for someone else is a great way to get out of your own head.

What happens if you don’t support your artist friend?

Kevin Smith puts it so well: “discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.” Yes, the man behind Jay and Silent Bob and so many other great movies and comics and podcasts.

Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever. I’ve spent the better part of my career getting up after movies and encouraging potential artists in the audience to give it a shot, pointing to myself as proof that anybody can make their dreams come true. I don’t do this altruistically: I’m selfishly insuring that I have cool shit to watch one day by encouraging anybody to follow passions like film or storytelling.

Gavin Aung Than beautifully captured Kevin Smith’s words in this cartoon:

Gavin Aung Than beautifully captures Kevin Smith's advice for supporting artists, which will certainly make an artist's day

Ready to make an artist’s day?

Now you know how to make an artist’s day and show them the support they deserve. Go!