Why paying for art is an investment in yourself
My friend Paula Schramm is a full-time human, an celebratory label I attach to those who are more awake to life than the average bear. I have learned many things from her: how to be a pilgrim, how to pink your hair, how to be vulnerable and powerful at once. (Yes, Paula, I like to alliterate.) One of the most life-altering things I learned from her is the value of paying for things you like.
When I find an artist I like, I mostly admire their work online. I follow them on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever. Paula actually buys a giant painting from them and hangs it on her wall. If we both follow a spiritual teacher, I read their work and tweet about it. Paula buys their merchandise and puts it on her table, next to her well-loved pens and notebooks. They sit in her flat, radiating energy and blessing the air.
It’s not that Paula has all this cash to burn and I don’t. Paula likes to pay to have things she values take up physical space in her life. To her, voting with your dollar (or, strictly speaking in this case, her euro) goes beyond politics; it goes to the realm of art and ideas. With her money, she votes for beauty and presence and wakefulness.
What I have come to understand is that, supporting an artist I love, paying for something that nourishes you, changes you. It really does so much more for you than whoever that money went to.
An artist serves as the vessel of their art-ideal, and when you support the artist, you join them in service. You feel that you have invested in the thing that they stand for; what you get back in return almost feels like a transference of the qualities you admire back to yourself. By paying materially for art, you officially and irrefutably ally yourself yourself with the cause of your artist, whether it is beauty, wonder, healing, provocation, humor, clairvoyance or sublimation. The cause also becomes yours.