How to Support an Artist

art students

Artists have a culture all their own. If you have a friend who is an arts student, you can help them by learning about their culture and immersing yourself in their world of art. It may feel like a cross-cultural experience, as unfamiliar as going to another country. That’s okay. That’s the sort of thing Jesus helps us do to bring his love and presence to others.

Here are my top three suggestions for getting started:

1. Be a fan. This is huge, so it is first. Show your support for your artist friends by going to their events, concerts, performances and gallery openings. Each one, every time. The people who love them the most will be there. If you want to be considered in that company, you have to be there. Bring flowers or a card and plan to wait to see them afterward. They will be eager to know what you thought of the performance or what your favorite moments were.

If you didn’t like it at all, say “Wow! You looked like you were having fun!” Or, “That was an interesting piece of music!” Or, “Wow! I need your help to understand modern art!” Do not shrug and say anything negative. You can sensitively ask your questions later, but your artist will be looking for affirmation after taking a creative risk. Be there for them. And don’t forget to post the event on your Facebook profile and invite others to come also.

2. Get to know their friends. Meet their castmates and crew, other musicians, or other students opening in the same art show. You’ll want to know who they’re talking about so you can pray for them, too. If you’re invited to a cast party or to go out afterward — go! Ask questions, be charming, and immerse yourself in the community of your artist friend.

3. Serve the artist: Bring them food or help them send out invitations to their opening or performance. Shop for that extra pair of black socks they’ll need but don’t have time to get. Volunteer to help set up or take down (if permitted). If you’re truly daring, ask for a job backstage. Offer to be a dresser or scene shift crew member. Be a roadie that carries amps and instruments. If you help in any way, you will be considered “one of them.”

Your tangible support of your artist friends creates opportunities to be an incarnational minister of the gospel in the arts community on your campus. Give them the gift of how to live out the grace and truth of Jesus with their creative, God-given artistic gifts.

—Nina Thiel

Return to the feature article, Help arts students flourish in your fellowship, by Nina Thiel.