noun \ˈpa-trə-nij, ˈpā-\
Patronage: The money and support most often given to an artist [or to an organization]. We’ve all heard the term starving artists. In times past (and even today I suppose) this term can literally be true. Patronage is not charity; the patron typically receives a quid pro quo. Artists (whether they are painters, writers, musicians, actors, dancers or photographers) often make huge sacrifices for their art. Probably less than one percent are commercially successful in the eyes of society. Especially now with governments and economies in constant turmoil. Government funding for the arts is a relic of a bygone era; it would appear that we can’t even afford to keep our own government running on a day-to-day basis anymore, much less fund the arts. What are the first programs cut from our public schools during financial hardship? It’s not the athletic programs.
Are you a patron, a recipient of patronage or both? You do not have to be an artist yourself to appreciate and support the arts. In my humble opinion one of the most significant accomplishments of mankind is art (in all of its varied and manifest forms). It speaks to the nobility of man, and helps to mitigate our less noble attributes (of which there are way too many). I am both a patron of the arts and a recipient of patronage. I am quick to donate [money] to street artists, musicians and dancers wherever I encounter them. As a fellow artist I can appreciate and empathize with the challenges they face and the sacrifices they make for their art. Most of us will never get rich with our art.
As an artist I also appreciate the patronage I receive. I have been modestly successful with my photography and writing, and the benefits I receive from my patrons go far beyond the simple monetary rewards. Money, to be sure, is an important component of patronage—it allows me to pursue my world travels, photography and writing (or at least makes my journey a mite bit easier). But another important component is validation of my work. Every time one of you (my patrons) spends your hard-earned money to purchase a piece of wall art from me, you have affirmed my art, my talent and my mission in life. You have affirmed my reason for being. One’s pursuit of one’s art can be (and usually is) a solitary pursuit fraught with all kinds of frustrations and ethical dilemmas. So many artists struggle with internal questions like: How much (if any) of my creative integrity am I willing to give up for commercial viability?
Many, many artists lack the requisite business acumen or social skills required to successfully market themselves and their art. There is so much unrecognized talent in this world due to this simple lack of exposure, opportunity and experience. Many artists are insecure in their talent, unsure of their worth and unable to promote their work and vision. And the business world is not their friend. Unscrupulous agents and galleries look to make their nickel on the backs of their naive clients—worse yet, it is almost impossible for a ‘newbie’ to even get representation. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us as artists to make our own talents and abilities known to the world.
In closing, I would like to once again thank all of my patrons for their continued support, both financial and emotional. You help me to follow the path I have chosen, you validate my work through your continued praise and purchases, you motivate me to try even harder and to continually hone my craft. It is through your efforts and support that Indochine Photography International and Expat Journal continue to thrive and grow.
(Click to enlarge)