I’ve spent a fair amount of time, space, and words here to recommend the work of a number of my fellow authors in this blog. Now, I’d like to take a moment to remind myself (and others) that writing is far from the only art form out there. I have quite a few friends who produce a wide variety of fascinating, cool, and useful things that you may want to consider acquiring.
Mark Stegbauer is a very talented artist whose work has appeared in numerous comic books, from indie houses to the Big Two. One of his most recent projects is illustrating a comic series from Action lab Comics called Ghoul Scouts, about a town full of supernatural happenings that only kids seem able to deal with. He does commission work frequently, so if you have a comic book character that’s you favorite, or even something else you like him to sketch and ink for you, drop him a line:
Highwind Steamworks is run by Jeff Platt, who among many other things does high quality leather work. He made a custom pair of leather bracers for me to accent my steampunk waredrobe that I’m extremely happy with: they included straps and slots to hold a number of small gadgets and tools, which he included. Besides custom orders, he also creates goggles, leather accessories, jewelry, and props. As the name implies Highwind Steamworks mostly does Steampunk-inspired items, but Jeff has much more to offer and is great to work with.
Sean Michael Dargan is a local (to me) musician who can play a number of instruments, including bagpipes and guitar. I’ve seen him perform live on a number of occasions and have enjoyed his work a great deal. My favorite song of his is “Paint a Target” off his The Big Picture album.
Sara Gordon has been a friend of mine for many years. She owns Fine Earth studios, and does amazing, amusing, functional and decorative work with clay. We own a number of her pieces, and have been universally happy with their quality, durability, and their esthetic appeal. She also offers classes on throwing and firing pots for those do-it-yourselfers, and her summer pottery camp for kids fills up early. The studio also features work by artists in other mediums, including photography, and jewelry.
Fine Earth Studio
I first met Connie Thomson in person in October of 2018 at Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous in Montana, though we had been friends for a while online. Connie crochets lovely gifts that range fro functional to whimsical.
Charlie Tango Creations
‘But Bill,’ I hear you ask ‘what if I can’t afford to buy any books, music, or handicrafts right now?’ One answer is simple: request books or music from your local public library. Libraries buy these things too, and the more copies sold overall, the more bankable authors are in the eyes of publishers. You can share these links with friends: maybe you know someone who’s looking for an unusual gift, or enjoys items that are out of the ordinary. Another easy way you can help: write reviews. They don’t have to be long and involved, or feature perfect grammar and punctuation. The important thing is that reviews — even ones where you didn’t like the item — help sell things to other people. Post your review toFacebook, Amazon.com, Goodreads, Library Thing, your own blog — anywhere people might see it. Include a photo if you’re able, so potential buyers have a better idea what they’re considering. In the case of anthologies, be sure to call out a couple of your favorite stories and mention their authors by name. That helps too.
Now more than ever, it’s important to support artists whose work you enjoy. With funding cut for arts programs at every level nationwide, we need to support artists like never before. Being a working artist is already tough, and very few make even a passable living at it. Anything you can do to help your favorite authors and artists will help keep us all going. More than the money, the encouragement a positive review with a name-check can bring is worth more to many of us than the sales it might encourage.