So, this week I discovered Patreon. It's a nice service that allows me to chip in some cash to creatives whose content I really enjoy. To be frank, I'm actually quite giddy about this. It's probably going to destroy my coffee budget if I'm not careful. And we all know there are few things that can convince me to sacrifice coffee.
What's funny is that I'm an unapologetic skeptic. I actually had a friend last night say that I'm a good "no man," and intended it as a compliment. I consider my ability to poke holes and iterate on ideas an asset. When I come to the conclusion that something is a "good idea" it means that I've hit it with a mental baseball bat a few times and am convinced its solid. As a result, it's rare that I come across something and get immediately lit up with unbridled enthusiasm. Since that's happened with Patreon, I thought it'd be cool to share why in blog format.
All of you know that I'm a software engineer. I get to build things for a living and, though it may surprise you to hear, there's a significant amount of creativity that goes into this. I'm fortunate enough to be compensated very well by the industry for doing what I love to do. But, to be honest, writing code is what I would be doing even if I wasn't getting paid. It's my craft. I have lots of little side projects I build out for giggles. It's actually become a bit overwhelming lately because I'm also "Project ADD," but that's a different topic.
Unfortunately there are a lot of talented creatives out there who aren't in my situation. For them, working on their passion means doing sucky full-time or part-time jobs that may not even pay the rent. In many creative arenas, if the Big Industry™ hasn't decided they want you, you'll have a hard time making a living. And I happen to hold the opinion that Big Industry™ tends to do a sucky job at evaluating whether things are good or bad. Lots of things fall through the cracks of their rubrics and lot of talented folks never catch their eye. (I'm looking at you in particular, Fox.)
Patreon allows me to participate in a rich history of patronage. I get to support artists I love in a way that is both easy and accountable, as they're held to doing something in return for contributions that are sent their way. In some ways, it's like a much longer term Kickstarter arrangement. I'd argue that as someone who has disposable income and immensely enjoys the things these folks produce, that I have something of an obligation to make my voice heard – both with my voice and with my wallet. They're producing stuff that is enjoyable and valuable to me and that I want them to continue doing that. These folks are participating in the creation of our era's culture. That's worth supporting.
So, I bet I can guess the next question in your head: who am I supporting? Well, let me tell you a bit about the first two creators I've backed.
Walk off the Earth
I'm sure that anyone who I've talked music with recently is sick of me talking about Walk off the Earth, but I'm still mesmerized by the amount of talent they have. Each member of the band plays some insane number of instruments and each of their music videos is a pure joy to watch. Of particular note they hold the distinction of being the first band to ever do a rendition of a Taylor Swift song that I actually enjoy. (That's an accomplishment.)
I decided to back them because the things they're producing are ambitious and consistently enjoyable. Whenever I can log into YouTube and see "Hey! WOTE has posted a new video!" it's always a good day. I'm also pretty sure Sarah Blackwood's voice is hypnotic. My current favorite demonstration of their talent is their cover of Lorde's Royals, where their instruments play musical chairs throughout the song (musical players?).
I actually originally discovered Mary Kate Wiles for the first time earlier last week. Kate, a friend of mine from church, posted a link to her video blog about post-job depression. After that I started clicking around to see some of the stuff she had been involved in. As a result, I stumbled into watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a web series she had acted in that is based on Pride and Prejudice.
(I may or may not have watched the entire series in three days.)
Mary Kate portrayed Lizzie's younger sister, Lydia. To be honest, my expectations for the character and the series as a whole were low going in. (See aforementioned skepticism.) But I would have had to eat my words if I'd ever publicized that opinion before finishing the series. Lydia is the character in the series that wins the award for giving me the most feels, and that is not an easy award to come by. One scene, in particular, where Lydia realizes she has been seriously betrayed took the cake for me.
I could tell you what's happening in this scene, or link you directly to the video, but I honestly feel that I'd be doing you a disservice. Watch the series from the beginning, and thank me later. Lizzie's videos are the "primary" narrative (for lack of a better term), but Lydia's are absolutely essential for understanding the character and made a huge difference for me. The link in this paragraph is a playlist containing all the relevant videos from the series.
After watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and a few of Mary Kate's other videos, supporting her was an obvious decision. I think she's got a ton of talent, and her video blogs have a really raw, down-to-earth quality that resonates with me. I want people with that talent and those personality qualities to be successful. Hands down.
If you're interested in finding out more about her, check out these links:
Tradition of Patronage
By supporting these artists, I'm joining in a long history of patronage, and I encourage you to do the same. There are good people out there doing new, interesting things with their creative talent. Find them, and figure out how to support them. It's worth your time and money to do so.
If you're also a Patreon user, I'd love recommendations for folks who are on there that you think are talented. I think that supporting these artists is actually going to get a line item in my budget in 2015, so I may be looking for a few more to add to my list of support for the year. And, as always, if you want to leave me a comment for any other reason please feel free to do so.
Until next time, kids.