Why I Have a Patreon Account, and What You Get Out of It

Patreon is a forum through which creators of all stripes can get financial support from their patrons. Patrons pay for access to content they might not get anywhere else, like being a dues paying member of a club that in return provides benefits and privileges to its members.

A friend of mine brought the value of a site like Patreon home one day when I invited him to go out to a museum to see a collection of Goya’s prints with my kid and I. He didn’t know Goya’s work, so I showed him online. He then asked, “Why pay to go see it when I can see it online for free?”

I know. I know. The value of seeing art in person is a point for another day.

On my last site, I tired to post everything. This included scraps and sketches, and this was without the benefit of the kind of framework made available by Squarespace. It was ridiculously difficult to maintain. My friend’s point came back to me, why pay for any of it when all my visitors can see it all for free?

Patreon is for me a venue through which I can offer my patrons access “behind the curtain”. It is like joining a special club where your dues get you benefits and privileges. Patrons who subscribe to my page get to see projects in development, sketches I am working on, and even read my short stories I post occasionally. In addition, they are given first notice of newly posted merchandise at my shops, discounts, and member exclusives like special prints.

The show of financial support allows me to purchase more and better tools to make art, and more importantly to set aside time to be an artist. With the launch of Art Monster, I am doubling down on the Patreon account, posting more frequently and reworking the available rewards. This week, for example, my followers on Patreon have seen four new tattoo flash design sheets that will not be released until October. Art Monster shows the 24 most recent graphic and fine art pieces I have made available to the public. On Patreon, you get to see my entire portfolio.

If you dig what I do and want a deeper look, check out my Patreon account. A good chunk of it is free to the public, with only the “really good stuff” being exclusive to paying patrons. Every little bit helps, and if you are already reading my blogs then you must be a little interested in what I do (thank you for reading the blogs, by the way). Become on of my patrons, and help keep my particular brand of creative lunacy alive.

My Perspective on Commissions

I am going to try to be delicate about this. Clear but delicate.

I am available for commissions, but I am in no way obligated to do commissions. I will take all requests into consideration, but I may decline your offer. This, to some, may seem obvious, but in my experience that needs to be spelled out.

When you request a commission from me, you are not just commissioning a painting or illustration. You are commissioning a work of art by Jason Sorrell. I know that sounds pompous, so let me explain. The work I create will be something unique, something identifiable as one of my works. Whatever you request, I will try to make personal, I will strive to make it a “Jason Sorrell piece”. If I don’t feel I can do that, that I can make you a piece that is representative of the type of work I do, then I will encourage you to find an artist who does the kind of work you are seeking and politely pass on your offer.

With this in mind, the commissions I do accept are ones that allow me the creative liberty to make the piece my own. Again, if you commission a design from me, you are getting a Jason Sorrell piece. That means if you come to me for a logo and you have specific fonts, a particular graphic, colors in mind, etc, I am probably going to suggest a good graphics program with which you can assemble to logo yourself. I am going to ask you a lot of questions and offer you a lot of options right upfront, but once we pull the trigger and I start working, we are committed. The nature of the project may require some revision, but mostly I am looking for projects where you are commissioning a design by me and I have as much liberty as possible.

The projects I accept will kick ass. I will make those pieces my own.

Pricing will be determined before I start the piece, with 50% due upfront and 50% due upon completion of the project. Pricing is subjective. It is determined by the materials involved in creating the work, the amount of time I calculate it will require, the limitations you set on the design, the number of revisions we agree upon (if any), the intended use of the work (private vs. commercial), and (honestly) how interested I am in your project. The price I set for one project is not indicative of prices I will set for future projects.

I welcome and encourage everyone to contact me with their requests. I appreciate everyone’s interest, and will offer any suggestions I have if I am unable to take your commission. I am looking forward to making you some epic art.

The Weird Road to this Website

This is my second website as an artist. A few years back, I made the decision to chuck my old site and wander the internet using various social media (Facebook, Patreon) and market (Etsy, Redbubble) sites to share my work. For years, I had written and maintained my own site from the code-up. I wrote in HTML and Java every page of what became a massive, sprawling site. Adding a new piece to the site could often take hours depending on what I was doing with it, and I simply was not seeing a return on my investment. One day, I found myself asking “why?”

Why have a website to display my work if I could accomplish that goal on Facebook? Why try to sell my work on my site when more people were buying direct from one of the market page? Why have a website at all? When I could not answer these questions, I decided it was time to shit down the old site. I had that site for almost a decade, and while letting it go was tough, it ended up being a huge weight off my shoulders.

It also provided time for me to discover why I needed a site.

In the interim between the old site and the new, I learned some things. Social media is useful, and in marketing necessary, but ultimately I am just a voice in the wilderness on Facebook, or a blip on someone’s daily news-feed. I got a bunch of people to follow my artist pages, but my theory is that the did so because they know me, and not so much because they are interested in my work. Many were, but just as many I believe followed my primary artist page as a courtesy. I have since seen more organic growth on a couple of other pages by not inviting people to follow. Instead, those followers I have discovered my page through some other site; a blog or a shop. These are people who are interested in my work on some level.

Art Monster has a Facebook page, but no invites are going out. There is a Facebook link on the bottom of every page on this site, and I am hoping the followers I get there come from here.

I was using every shop site I could find. My art on merchandise was at places like Cafe Press, Zazzle, and others. With the old site, I would offer the best products from these venues, reselling the pay-to-print item direct. It was, again, a lot of effort for little return. Being out of having a site for a while taught me that it made more sense to just point people interested in my work to the shop sites themselves. I also learned the value of using bulk printers like Sticker Mule and investing in the product. I found a shop were my work seems to do well (Redbubble), but prefer the venues that require that I am closer to the means of production (Etsy).

I found myself doing art-shows without a website. My business cards and promotional stickers pointed people to my Patreon site (another tool I had to learn the purpose of). I was not offering commissions as I am now, and I knew I was missing out. Each show was an opportunity to get the word out about my Redbubble and Etsy shops, my Facebook and Instagram accounts, but to avoid bogging people down in a half-dozen URLs I needed to point people to a central source. That was something I did not have anymore, a single online location where you could find it all.

That became the primary drive to creating a new website. I needed a central landing point for those interested in my work. In addition, I needed to offer my services for commission. I could do that through other venues, but a website would tie things together. Getting here required one other thing, changing my business philosophy and creating a new brand.

The last site was created with the idea that I would not be the whole show. I have friends who were artists also trying to figure things out like I was. I believed that a collaborative effort would be best; we would work together, market our common venues, and build on our mutual efforts. Sounds good in theory, but it proved to be impractical. This new site is all me, no additional “studios” involved, just my own creative output. This change in direction required a new brand and new logo.

“Art Monster” was inspired by a design I did years ago for an event at a tattoo shop I worked at. The design featured a hulking beast with tentacles coming out of its head. The creature was also the power-supply for his tattoo machine, which plugged into his temple. “Art Monster” is descriptive of the work I do; no kittens and bouquets here, no rustic and charming images of dilapidated barns, no concerns at all about being accepted in some fashion by mainstream art. My work is intentionally graphic, lowbrow, and prurient.

Odds are your will not find my paintings in a dentist’s office anytime soon.

The logo further reflects this, my spider-demon. I am spinning a web of creative works. There is some aggression in these efforts, some open defiance of what is considered acceptable or “normal”. I am inspired by tattoo art, comic book art, skateboard graphics, rock-and-roll and metal art from the 80s, horror films, pinup art from the 50s and 60s. You know, the good stuff. I believe that you, my friends who appreciate that kind of work, are a rarefied breed. I am honored that you are here, and delighted to create things for you.

Welcome.