painting by artsana
Kristen Walker is an artist, surfer, joke teller, and courteous driver who blogs about here experiences and creative life. In this guest post, she explores the idea of tithing (the practice of giving 10% of your income to your church) for the creative community.
When I embarked on my first online creative class a few months ago (a class from Marisa at Creative Thursday) I felt like I was discovering a new world. Since I didn’t go to art school and went down a more technical career path, I hadn’t ever had many opportunities to get to know other artists, and now I was in a class full of them! The class was the perfect supportive environment in which to share our real selves –
- the parts of us that are scared that we aren’t good enough,
- the dreams we have about making a real living doing what we love,
- and the sadness we feel when it seems that the only way we can support ourselves financially is to have a more traditional job that we don’t love.
painting by enrouge
Before taking an online course with other artists, when I browsed through the shops on Etsy, all I really saw was the merchandise – the beautifully crafted items and the wonderfully painted paintings. What I was not seeing were the people behind the shops – the person taking a leap of faith and hoping that their work might sell, the mother who dreams of staying home with her kids and being a full time artist, and the successful full time artist who still depends on (and cherishes) ever single sale she makes.
When I had the privilege of really getting to know many of the artists behind the work, I realized that every shop represents a real person’s hopes and dreams.
And further more, I realized how much every sale means. How just one purchase can:
- affirm someone’s choice to go after their dreams rather than continuing to work that crappy day job
- validate the artistic talent of a person who is uncertain if they possess any (but really hopes they do!)
- fuel even more creativity
- allow an artist to create full time
- allow a person to be the kind of parent they want to be by providing work with some flexibility that can be done from home
When I realized this, it dawned on me how meaningful the dollars spent on someone else’s creations are. And unfortunately, it also dawned on me how little money I actually spend in this area. As a creative person, I am ashamed to say that I have spent next to nothing on other people’s artwork. Please don’t hate me! I’ve thought a lot about this recently and have a few ideas about why this is.
For one, I am extremely frugal. I am not sure where I get this from apart from having depression-era grandparents, being raised by a single mom, and having to get by on $1000 a month in college.
Part two of the equation is, I am a do-it-yourself-er, meaning, if I can do something myself, I really like to. As someone who is creative, it felt funny to buy the creations of others when I consider myself creative (I mean, I should be “doing it myself”, right?).
And the last part of the equation is that buying handmade was not modeled for me AT ALL. We just didn’t have the luxury (or at least that is what I was taught), to buy hand crafted items. We also didn’t have the internet back then either.
But, now that I know that the artists out there selling their creative wares are creative types just like me – who get totally jazzed when someone else likes their work enough to buy it – who are creating better lives based on their sales – who are heart and soul real people – I realized that not investing in their artwork was the same as not investing in my own, and since I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats, I could not comprehend the notion that I wasn’t spending any money stoking fellow creative types out, the way I would want to be stoked out.
This is when I got the idea of “creative tithing.”
A church-going friend of mine once explained that a tithe is a certain portion of your income that you commit to giving to the church each month, the idea being that you are supporting something good that you believe in, and committing to do so on an ongoing basis.
I am not religious, but I am creative. I never knew until recently that this creative community existed, but now that I know that it does, I want to support it and the individuals that comprise it. I think it has a lot to offer – independence, financial freedom, happiness, and connection. That’s GOOD STUFF!!!!! And it’s time I supported it. I’ve decided to embark on an experiment of creative tithing whereby I purchase and support at least one artist per month. I am on month three so far and it feels great! Each purchase has been followed by an exuberant “thank you!” And the packages that arrive contain even more thank yous – thank yous from real people – real people whose lives I’ve affected in a positive way through the simple act of spending some cash. Now, I am not spending money to amass thank-you’s – but the part about affecting someone’s life in a positive way through the simple act of a purchase really gets me off. I mean, how often do I get to do this in my day-to-day life through a purchase?
The three artists that I have purchased from so far are Dana Komjaty, Karla from Enrouge Studios, and Eliza from Artsana. I checked in with them to get their comments (just to make sure I am not making stuff up!), and here are some snippets of what they said:
* “I always feel the adrenaline of ‘I want to make more right now!’ pumped into my veins with every sale. As an artist still in the process of ‘gettin’ there’ sometimes I feel a bit unsure if people really like what I make. So each and every sale represents a ‘YES’ it’s worth going forward, to me.” – Dana Komjaty
* Karla said, “I love when I have orders to pack up. And the little sashay in my step trickles over to those around me, like my husband, and people I encounter, mainly because I smile more, and I am more outgoing towards them.”
* Eliza of Artsana said, “I like to think that sales of my work help me to support others in their creative dreams and ideas. For example, I can buy local, organic food from the farmer working to support their dreams of keeping their farm. I can buy other handmade items, supporting the dreams of artisans and craftspeople. In this way I can do my part to keep the circulation of money flowing towards ideas and people I believe in.”
So here it is, the idea of creative tithing. It’s commitment-meets-good karma-meets-the golden rule-meets-pay it forward all in one. I would love to know what your thoughts are on this. Do you spend dollars on creative people? Have you been a creative frugal-diy gal like me? Do you have any first hand experience with making purchases that have positively impacted others lives?
Read more about Mindful Spending!