Tag Archives: Patronage for the arts

How Patreon has changed my life as an artist.

Suzanne Forbes is on PatreonYou might not think 400 bucks a month would make much of a difference. You’d be wrong.

Last summer there were some scary times. Moving to Berlin cost us much more than we imagined or planned for, despite my years of careful planning. There were unexpected disasters. In May I had to go on twitter and beg my community for help to pay for my meds, because we weren’t on German health insurance yet and were paying hundreds of euros out of pocket each month for asthma meds, antidepressants, and thyroid meds.

Several beloved friends (also artists) strongly suggested I get a Patreon set up so I’d have a reliable source of income, and pledged to support me.

Before that, I knew about Patreon and in fact already supported several friends on it, but I was like, but what if no-one cares about my work? What if it’s a humiliating failure? I couldn’t support myself as a freelance artist in the Bay Area; doesn’t that prove people don’t want the kind of work I do? WIth the encouragement of my friends and the crisis fresh in my mind, I went ahead and did it anyway. And people signed up! The feeling was incredible.

I felt like, these people think my life’s work has merit. They want me to be able to do it AND buy groceries.

And in Berlin, 400 bucks buys a LOT of groceries. I set my Patreon up as a per-piece of content subscription, so I can do as much or as little work as I want. I know how much money I’ll bring in based on how much I work. Each month, the money has been incredibly helpful, even as our situation has grown more secure and stable.

Each month, the money comes in at the same time- I can budget with it!

I have never had anything like that ever in my life as an artist, except when I worked for DC on Star Trek. When I was a courtroom artist, whether I would work on a given day was completely unpredictable. (It depended on witnesses, juror selection etc. ) As a portrait artist, getting commissions is completely, entirely random, and the timeline for finishing portraits includes complex scheduling. When I taught drawing on Capitol Hill, it was only a supplement to my day job at Dean&DeLuca, so the money didn’t impact my budget much.

SImply to know that there is money I can count on, I can measure, for my work, is so nurturing.

Original eyeball drawing by Suzanne Forbes 2015I can use Patreon flexibly, based on my (teeny) other income as an artist. Last month I was crazy busy with unpacking our stuff from the shipping container, so I didn’t post as much.

This month, I’m posting more because the class I’m teaching pays only about 50€ per session (it’s a small class).

I can go ahead and teach a small class, because I know that I can use Patreon posts to develop the course material and post it as tutorials.

Head construction by Suzanne Forbes 2016Like the “Let’s Talk about Skulls” post which is the foundation for the first class, which I’ll be teaching tonight. The trip to ESDIP, where I teach, is about 2.5 hours round-trip, so I can use the time on the U-Bahn to draw more course materials.

Knowing this makes me feel so supported, so safe, so valued. I can’t thank you enough for the way this has changed how I work.

Your support has made an incredible difference in my self-esteem and peace of mind.

Thank you, and I love you.

Sales Pitch: As my Patreon has grown, I’ve been able to post less if I need to take more time for each post. This is a big deal for an artist who is disabled and has issues with having enough spoons.

If my Patreon grows just a little more, I can start doing some video tutorials. That might mean I only post once or twice that particular month, but the content would be amazing and useful to so many people! And eventually, I might have a Youtube channel, which would also help me buy groceries!