I would get harassed sometimes. People would yell at me from their cars. "Get a job!" And I'd be, like, "This is my job." But it hurt, because it made me fear that I was somehow doing something un-joblike and unfair, shameful."
Amanda Palmer has been floating in and out of my life for a long time. The Dresden Dolls created some of the music that got me through high school. Senior year I skipped classes to sneak into the auditorium where I'd bang on the busted old piano and sing "The Perfect Fit" until I decided I could handle people again. A few summers ago I had a month of dreams where she'd be in town and I'd play music with her on crazy instruments that don't exist in the waking world. A few weeks ago I finally read "The Art of Asking" and somehow Amanda Palmer has gone from being a distant source of emotional support in my personal life to a source of emotional support for my creative career.
"The Art of Asking" gave me an honest and emotional insight into making a connection with your audience and the importance of trusting them and allowing them to support your creative work. In college there was a pervasive attitude of art being somehow impure or lesser if you were supporting yourself with the artwork. Personally, I think this is a ridiculous idea. Our culture is full of creativity and art, and expecting people to create without support until they run dry is sadly romanticized. Lucky for us- the internet exists- and it's opening up all sorts of new opportunities for artists to make a living on personal projects.
Patreon is a valuable platform for independent artists who are otherwise not being compensated for their creations- people don't always realize the amount of time, skill, emotional/mental energy and money that goes into creative work. On top of that we often feel our work is unimportant, unworthy of support, and has no value- and this is repeated to us again and again throughout our lives (why don't you get a real job? why are you wasting your time? why don't you do something useful? I'll help you pay for school but not not if you want to study art!). Patreon allows us to ask for help on our personal projects, and it makes it easy to give extra thanks to our most enthusiastic supporters.
I recently saw some criticism suggesting that crowdfunding was greedy, awful, and otherwise taking advantage of people by making them pay to view any kind of art production. This is not only a misunderstanding of how crowdfunding, and specifically Patreon, works- it's also a very harmful mindset to new artists trying to make a living. Regardless of what level your art is at, or how wide your audience is, there will always be enthusiastic people who want to show their support because they connect with what you're sharing. Patreon gives those people a medium to support the artist in a direct and meaningful way and in return the artist can give those supporters extra thanks for helping. It's not begging, it's not swindling people. It's an exchange. It's letting yourself be vulnerable.
I wanted to reach out and tell my fellow illustrators- those new to the craft, those lacking confidence, those afraid of failure or rejections- you're worthy enough to ask for support. Don't let anyone try and shame you for trying to make art, or for asking for the help to make it. Be supportive of others in your art community. If you love someone's art and don't know how to support them- share the art! I'm sharing this book for just that reason, I hope it can give you the insight you need.
And the media asked, "Amanda, the music business is tanking and you encourage piracy. How did you make all these people pay for music?" And the real answer is, I didn't make them. I asked them. And through the very act of asking people, I'd connected with them, and when you connect with them, people want to help you. It's kind of counterintuitive for a lot of artists. They don't want to ask for things. But it's not easy. It's not easy to ask. And a lot of artists have a problem with this. Asking makes you vulnerable.