Shopping for the creative in your life may feel like a daunting task, but it’s actually much more intuitive than it seems. Yes, creators can be the hardest ones to pin down during the holidays because so much of their life revolves around making the things they see missing in the world, the things they want and need. But, the beauty of the artistic process is that as delicate as it is, it’s easily buoyed by simple, specific items, and if those aren’t available, lots of emotional support always helps, too. Gifts that help uplift and inspire are important, but so are the essentials you may not consider glamorous at first glance.
Here are some of the supportive, thoughtful, and priceless holiday gifts that changed the game, sparked meaningful connections, and lifted the holiday entrepreneurial spirit for members of Patreon’s community.
Regifting: One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
Geoffro / Hex3D, who creates 3D printable designs for his patrons, shared how effective it can be to pass on your obsolete technology to someone who might really benefit from it. “One of my Patrons knew my PC was a bit of a potato and had a spare Dell workstation with about 14TB of storage,” Geoffro said. “So he boxed it up and had it shipped to me, it was pretty cool gesture I have to say.” Before you throw anything away, especially valuable technology, consider who in your life might benefit from whatever it is — just because you’ve outgrown use of it doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful for others.
Small, specific batches of daily resources can go a long way.
This next gift idea can be especially important for those who don’t have access to the resources of a major office, sometimes a printer — or even ink and paper — can be immensely valuable for independent artists working on their own. “Recently, a good friend bought me $200 worth of printer ink and good paper so I could concentrate on art and Etsy instead of worrying about running out of cyan,” watercolor painter Amy Crook shared. “Sometimes a little space for your brain to breathe is all you need, you know?”
Instead of worrying about the ins and outs of the painting world, or getting a super technical gift, Amy’s friend took away some of the routine hassle of small business ownership by providing a daily resource.
For mixed media artists, there are few gifts more useful than a tablet.
Patreon creator Lisa Vollrath, who uses mixed media to create both art and videos, couldn’t get over the time a patron of hers sent a tablet they had no use for as a gift.
“Years ago, a longtime follower (and online friend) received a free graphics tablet as part of a computer package she purchased,” Vollrath explained. “She gifted me the tablet, which was on my ‘if I ever win the lottery’ list because she said she had no use for it. I still have it, and use it, and it made a big difference in my production of digital designs.” This simple gift upped the ante for Vollrath without even costing her patron a dime.
Another artist, the fantasy illustrator Temrin, echoed the importance of receiving typically expensive new technology like a tablet for free. “A long time ago, my aunt had received a Wacom Graphire tablet through her work somehow and after visiting her a few times and playing with it a bunch, she ended up gifting it to me,” Temrin wrote. “Prior to that, I had drawn traditionally or with a mouse on computers. I was so ecstatic to try the tablet at her house and see what it could do so when she gifted it to me, I was over the moon with excitement!” Again, a gift like this was already just laying around the house — but deeply impacted Temrin’s work.
“I actually still have the first full drawing I made on it using the art program that came with it,” Temrin continued. “She kick-started my current day art career with that gift. I still work both traditionally and digitally, but I wouldn’t have gone anywhere digitally without that gift and the support from my parents to pursue art.” Sometimes, even just the financial freedom to be exposed to a new method or try a new format can spark a completely new train of thought for creators, and end up altering the course of their career in a big way.
Give the gift of learning a new skill set.
For Naked Bakers, the creator of a naked cooking show, a subscription to learn more skills to increase the production value of her show was the best gift. “For me, it was a year subscription to Lynda.com that was gifted to me by a friend,” she remembered. “That website has taught me so much about not only things like Photoshop and Premiere Pro, but also about web development, photography, and videography. Every class I have taken through them has expanded my creative freedom.” This example also goes to show that understanding or connecting to the artistic process isn’t even necessary to show your support.
When you can go the extra mile for your creative partner, that means everything.
Fanart creator and cosplayer simrell was ecstatic when her partner came through with the kind of present that gave her more creative control than ever. “I’m really lucky to have an S.O. that supports me fully, wants to see me succeed, and helps me out whenever they can,” she said. “A few years ago, they asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I jokingly said: ‘a new iMac’ since the only computer I had was a MacBook laptop that was at least 7 years old and barely chugging along. But to my surprise, they really got me a damn expensive and brand new computer. It changed my quality of work so drastically and I’m so so thankful.”
Emotional support and non-physical gifts are just as meaningful.
Remember, your holiday present doesn’t have to be on the level of a new computer. Even just taking the time to write a card for your loved one, offering a helping hand, or letting them know you appreciate them and what they do could be the transformative and significant gift they’ve always wanted.