It’s a fact – artists often require sponsors, or as they used to be called, patrons.
It’s not easy to ask for help – at least for me, it isn’t. I was raised by a family with very strong work ethic, the kind of family where we rally around each other and our friends, but wouldn’t easily ask for a hand up for ourselves. Asking for help can make one feel like a failure, but the truth is: none of us live in a void. None of us can do it alone. And sometimes we can help each other out, and in doing so, get something in return.
I want to tell you a little bit about me, because that’s only fair.
I know that not everyone understands why someone would go into an artisan field as a career. And many people don’t prosper – in fact, success is often only bolstered by secondary incomes, etc. I’m working full-time at my dream of being a fiber artist. Slowly, it’s working. But slow is the key word here, and I’m on a tight schedule. I have a fixed income that allows me just enough to pay my personal bills and eat. That’s about it. I put in more hours on my business than most people do at paid jobs. I try to pay myself, but right now the biz is at the point where money that comes in goes right back out: everything from materials to taxes to various fees sucks up any profit currently. It’s the curse of the growing business and a slow economy, and I’m working with it, but this leaves me little respite for expanding my skills in my chosen field under the tutelage of other, cutting-edge fiber artists – aka, taking classes with the best.
That’s why I took the approach of a sponsorship program. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ve had a few people invest in my business in this fashion – and it’s been appreciated, and used to help keep Threeravens growing to great effect.
But this time, I have this specific goal: to get myself to Camp Pluckyfluff, which is happening in October in Berlin MD, which is about 4 hours from me. This is a prime opportunity to learn from the fabulous and talented Lexi Boeger, aka Pluckyfluff, who is one of the innovators in the field of artistic yarn creation. She offers a two day class that teaches techniques that will expand and/or refine my skills. I’ll also have the opportunity to meet other fiber artists in the area, which is always a good thing. We will be learning from each other, I suspect, just as we learn from Lexi. This is a chance I may not have come my way again soon, so I am doing my best to get there.
Your sponsorship is helping me with this.
I am also working to help another fiber artist, Adele, get to the class. Why am I doing this? Well, because she’s awesome and talented… we support each other… she is my friend… and she will get as much out of this class as I will, so I want to learn from watching her create while I do the same for her. We plan to share a room, which will cut those costs down. And we will be support for each other while we’re there. It’s a win-win.
I think every fiber artist should be able to take a class like this. I think that every artist should be able to have access to classes that expand their repertoire and raises their skill level. Classes help both the students and the teachers of them – students gain new techniques and attitudes, and teachers get to pass along their knowledge and get paid for doing so. Again, a win-win.
The sad truth is that most artists don’t easily have the money available for attending the classes that are so essential for growth in their field. And full-time artists, like me, often have the least amount of available funds, which ends up holding us back in areas where we need it most.
The good thing is that when we are sponsored, we can attain the knowledge that we need, and we can trade our skills in return for the privilege. When sponsors give money, they receive what I like to call a “perk” for their vote of confidence in me: something of value that still allows me to put a decent amount of the sponsorship funds toward my goal. Sponsors also get the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve helped an artist grow and improve herself. Yep, it’s a win-win. 🙂
So now you know what this is all about. The funds received would usually go straight into my business, but in this case, they are supporting education for me and another fiber artist, and the ability for a teacher to educate. Included in our education funds is the fee for class, the ability to get there, and a place to stay – because those things are all entwined in the ability to take the class. Extra funds go directly into the hands of the teacher. Everyone wins.
We have had some generous and loving people step up and sponsor us already. If you choose to do the same, I will be honored. I’ll also be embarrassed, because I still feel weird about this whole thing – see above paragraphs. But that’s okay. We will all be getting something wonderful from this process, and that’s what counts. And I know that even my supporters who cannot sponsor – I still have you in my corner. That is the most important thing of all.