Lee Nutter - Phnom Penh based Photographer

The Importance of PatreonApril 3, 2016

Some of the most important artists in history lived in poverty because the art they created wasn’t valued in their lifetime. This trend continues today. There’s creative people doing important things, contributing to society in myriad ways, but if their preferred mode of expression isn’t adopted by the mainstream, something has to give. They either suffer financially in order to create, or suffer by working a job that doesn’t suit, then suffer again from a reduced creative output, if they’re lucky enough to have any time left at all.

Enter Patreon. PayPal donations have existed for a long time, but until now there has been no easy way for artists to receive ongoing support from people who appreciate their work. Now a creative can turn to Patreon, and without asking for a lot from a few people, can ask for a small and sustainable amount from many, and hopefully supplement their income in some significant way. If they have enough true fans, they might reach a point where they can dedicate themselves, at least part time, to their creative pursuits. The artists, liberated somewhat from the energy sapping, soul destroying jobs most are forced into taking in order for them to continue practicing their art, are free once again to create, and the patrons are rewarded with an increased output from the artists that inspire them.

More importantly perhaps is the potential impact this could have on wider society. If a large number of artists are being publicly supported in the black and white way the more ‘practical’ left brained portion of the population understands, they themselves might start to see the potential value in creative endeavours. The relentless pursuit of profit for profit’s sake might take a back seat, and massive multinational corporations who put their bottom line above human rights, the environment, or any kind of greater good will fall out of favour, and the human race will finally find a harmonious equilibrium where everyone’s unique contribution is valued equally.

Or maybe not. But Patreon really does have the power to be transformative. To artists and creators, to the people who support them, and to society as a whole. I know of several people who, through hard work and sacrifice and tireless dedication to their art, have found themselves with support enough to change their lives, massively increase their output, or otherwise bring their work to a wider audience.

As a starving artist myself I’m not able to support everyone I would like to, but I am making small ongoing contributions to some amazing people who have affected my life in one way or another. I’d love to do more tho, so once a month I am going to highlight a creator worth your consideration. Hopefully by spreading the word more people will learn about Patreon, and even if my recommendations are not to their taste, they will be encouraged to find a few dollars a month to put towards supporting a creative who has moved them in one way or another.

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