Banerjee: Supporting local creatives is important

As college students, it can often be difficult to navigate saving money and spending it on the art and services that your friends and fellow students produce. But, nonetheless, it is important to support those around you.


James Year

Iowa City residents enjoy coffee and the quiet atmosphere at Prairie Lights on Tuesday, July 4, 2017.

Anna Banerjee, Opinions Columnist

A week ago, I asked people on Twitter if they would edit a piece I’ve been working on, offering to Venmo editors some money in exchange for their help. Like many college students, I don’t really make enough money for, well… anything. But $10 is surprisingly versatile: $10 is a dinner, a couple of cups of coffee, gas money. $10 is a small message that, yes, your labor is valued as much as anyone else’s.

Artistic labor is something that is very difficult to quantify; for the same service or product, you could conceivably get wildly different offers. More so, some people generally don’t spend any money on art, writing, or similar pursuits. That’s fair — it can be generally unaffordable to spend money that you need for rent, food, or other pursuits on commissioning a friend to draw something for you.

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But for a lot of us out there for whom writing, art, music, etc., is our main interest and something we want to be our major source of income, being paid can be an important start into the world of our respective crafts.

Being a college student and supporting art is an even more difficult relationship to bridge. How are we supposed to support our friends on a part-time job?

If we start to devote a little cash to spending on the artists and creatives in our community now, it can develop a habit in the future — a habit that supports people in difficult career paths.”


While I don’t have the budgeting guide for every student, I do think that we should try to set aside money — when and if we can — on simply supporting the artists, writers, and creators in our communities. Even if supporting freelance editing every few months is all you’re doing, it still sends the message to people that they are doing something that is valuable and wanted in their community.

Though $10 from a friend is not all that writers should aspire to make — and it’s definitely not all they should be making in ideal conditions — a little goes a long way in both normalizing paying artists and creators and helping to fund your friends’ careers in manageable ways for you.

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Paying artists, of course, isn’t a foreign concept, but it is one that maybe doesn’t come into play in our day-to-day lives. Especially in college, when everything often feels very immediate and physical, spending money on a night out somehow seems more sensible than on something we could bother our friend a couple times to do for free.

This is why normalizing spending money on your friends’ endeavors should be pushed — we need to create a strong community with our friends and our social groups of supporting each other regardless of the enterprise. If it means spending $25 on a friend’s shirt or sending a Twitter mutual $10 to edit an essay you’ve been working on for a long time, money is best spent, if possible, on supporting the ones you care about and telling them that their labor is both valid and appreciated.

Creating a supportive group around you is crucial — especially in college — to defining your goals and aspirations in the future. If we start to devote a little cash to spending on the artists and creatives in our community now, it can develop a habit in the future — a habit that supports people in difficult career paths.

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