My column this month is smack between a ton of holidays, and regardless of your national and religious affiliations, most of those holidays have something to do with giving thanks, and something to do with giving gifts. So here is a post that is also a gift, because you can reshare it to all of your fans. And then you can turn around and pick a few tips to use and thank all the artists you follow as well.

Even before I was an adult on my own, my father taught me that you have to appreciate people who provide a service or share their craft with you. It’s important to tip folks like waitresses or taxi drivers that you see once, but it’s even more important — especially around the holidays — to make sure you show your appreciation for the people that provide you service throughout the year by tipping them at the holidays. Your every-morning-latte barista. The bartenders at your local watering hole. Security guards at work. The postal worker that deals with all your crazy shipping needs all year. The people that make your life a little more bearable. And in our often dark and occasionally depressing world, I consider the artists I love to be providing me a very real service throughout the year. Whether their art is inspiring, or activist, or funny, or just reminding me there’s still beauty being made in the world, they deserve my thanks, and I try to make sure to add a little extra support over the holidays.

And remember, tipping and support does not have to be only about money. Sure, people know that they can back a Patreon or buy a print, but people often don’t realize how important their non-monetary support can be, especially on social media. So here’s a list of both monetary and non-monetary ways to tip an artist that you can share with your followers (and then do for your own favorite artists):

15 Ways to Tip Artists for the Holidays (or anytime):

  1. You know the single most useful way to follow an artist? Find their website and sign up for their newsletter. In this crazy world of changing social media platforms, a newsletter is stable and worth it’s weight in gold.
  2. Make sure you have followed/subscribed to your favorite artists on every social media platform you’re on. Those numbers really count! Facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, twitch, youtube. Find & follow everywhere you can!
  3. On platforms like facebook where you can control who shows up in your feed to some extent, make sure those artist pages are set to “See First” so they don’t get lost in the algorithm.
  4. Don’t be a passive scroller. When you see a piece of art you like then click that Like button, double tap that Heart, etc. It really affects social media algorithms.
  5. You know what’s even better than Likes? COMMENTS! Leave a comment! Even if it’s just to literally say “I love this!”
  6. When an artist you follow posts about a new project, a Kickstarter, or asks for shares on something, then SHARE THAT POST. People worry overmuch that they will annoy their friends by sharing too much. I promise you it doesn’t work that way. It makes you look even more awesome by promoting other artists and supporting the community.
  7. Look at the list of people you need to buy presents for and see how many you can get prints, pins, t-shirts and other merch for, direct from artists (most have holiday discounts and will rush shipping). If you start early enough, you can even commission custom pieces from many artists.
  8. If you have to give hints to a secret (or not so secret) Santa, then share those artist websites so people can buy presents for you.
  9. Send a message or email straight to the artist saying how much you appreciate their work and that it made your year better. You can keep it short and simple. So many people feel that way, but never put it into words for the artist to see. (Just remember, don’t be creepy. Keep it about the work, not the artist’s physical appearance. And don’t ask for a response.)
  10. If the artist has a Patreon or a Ko-Fi account, then tip them. Even $1. It’s the thought that counts, and those smaller backers really add up.
  11. When you see a specific piece of original art by an artist that might be out of your budget, share it! Maybe a friend will buy it.
  12. If you are a writer, or have a business, or have made a thing that can use a piece of art on it or to promote it, ask the artist if you can commission them. If your budget is small, you can always ask to license a piece that’s already in their portfolio. Even if it was used by a client, there may by other usages available.
  13. If you have a budget for charity this year (and you need a tax write-off) then donate to Arts non-profits that directly help artists, like your state’s chapter of the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts or the Society of Illustrators. Or a local art museum.
  14. If an artist you love had a show this year at a gallery, send a note to the gallery talking about how much you enjoyed the work (even if you could only see it online).
  15. Recommend and make connections. Even if you don’t have a business that needs art, you probably have a friend or family member that does. Or a local business or gallery. Or you just know a friend that would love that artist’s work. Targeted sharing, in person as well as on social media.

As we near the end of the year, it’s a good time to reflect and show people that their work affected you and that you want to support them however you can so that they keep making more art.

Happy Holidays to all our readers, my Muddy Colors teammates, and our fearless leader Dan Dos Santos. See you all in 2019!