So obviously I don’t suspect you of using your considerable art superpowers for evil lately. But sometimes it’s really helpful to be reminded of why we are not only allowed to flex the old art muscles on a regular basis, but also that there is the extra incentive of how it benefits the world at large when we do.

Not to mention that if you need some kind of justification or motivation, making something for a purpose beyond yourself is a pretty good one.

That said, I still believe that art is done for ourselves first; we don’t do the art in order to serve, we do the art because we must, and often we find that service evolves from the process. {And sometimes it doesn’t – at least not in any immediately obvious way – and that’s fine too.}

Thus, eight ways to use your art for good, should you need such a reminder or catalyst.

gifts

I’ve given a lot of my art as gifts over the years. I’ve also been given a lot of art. It’s a wonderful way to give something personal, unique, and unusual, and makes a great gift for big occasions – weddings {paintings of wedding bouquets are popular}, births, anniversaries, birthdays, to commemorate a beloved pet who has moved on – and smaller ones. {See also ‘cards’ below.}

Even better if it’s something specific and relevant to the receiver. Do they love a certain colour? Do they adore having flowers in their home that you could immortalise in paint? You can create something specific to them – a painting of their home, their kids, their favourite dress or shoes even – within your own personal artistic style. Just maybe make sure your style is to their taste if you’re doing a big one. ;)

cards

Art cards are a win on so many fronts. Create a quick and easy set of greeting cards ready for any occasion by cutting up a painting that went awry, or using a big old joyful mess you make for that exact purpose! {Click here for an example shared before I knew how to take decent photos.}

I make hand painted cards for my father every year on his birthday and Father’s Day and he loves them so much it’s worth the extra time and effort.

 

auction for charity

I haven’t done this myself, and I know there’s a lot of dispute about whether it’s a reasonable way to spend your painting hours, but there’s a difference between being offered the ‘opportunity’, and choosing to do it because you want to. And it doesn’t have to be anything formal. You could auction off a painting of your own on Instagram and donate the proceeds, or a percentage of them, to charity.

I do a version of this when I run my annual Secret Sale. A percentage is always put into Kiva, because I like to support other women running their own businesses.

giveaways

This year I decided to give away an original painting on Instagram on the 21st of every month, my birthdate. It’s been a fun monthly project for me {sometimes having a specific ‘outside’ purpose for painting is the best way to actually do some!}, and so far six people have been happy to receive an original painting as a gift.

Plus, because let’s be transparent about this; it’s an easy way – for both me and my Instagram friends {I ask them to tag a friend as a condition of entry which takes about two seconds} – to spread the word about my work. Using your art for good is allowed to benefit you too! ;)

art with a message or story

Some things are hard to express in words, but art offers a means to tell a story or make a point in a way that can create instant impact. Murals and street art are a great example of this, but it can be something much smaller and closer to home. What story could you tell with your art? What comfort or empowering message could you share? This would also work in combination with giving art as a gift.

one for one

I just made this up because I was thinking about Toms shoes, {they donate a pair of shoes to someone in need every time you buy a pair of theirs,} but I’m liking it as an idea!

For example, you could do some kind of offer whereby for each painting sold you give one away. Maybe you’d make a set of quick and easy paintings – you don’t have to give away a twelve week masterpiece – just for that purpose. Something to ponder.

guerilla stones

I went through a phase of making these. I called them guerilla stones because I’d go on stealth missions and leave them tucked away in public places for people to find and keep. I have no idea what became of them, but that’s the point.

It wasn’t about deciding outcomes, or recognition; it was about a fun little creative game for me and a potential anonymous pick-me-up for someone else. There was always the possibility that one of my little messages cheered someone up at just the right moment.

There are plenty of other ways to do this too, like placing ATCs, or handpainted bookmarks, in library books.

painted postcards

I’ve always loved the idea of these*, although I never seem to actually get round to making and sending them. It’s so easy to whip up a quick little painting, and such a lovely personal way to say ‘thinking of you’. Also great for travelling and sending original and unique postcards from the road.

{*aff.link}

for your own pleasure in process

Because the art is never truly made in isolation. The beauty is you can ‘indulge’ in what makes you feel good, in what feels meaningful and necessary, and because of the effect that has on you, even if you don’t show anyone the actual result, it ripples out to the world around you. I for one am much nicer to be around when I’m honouring my creative urges. :)

 

These ideas all show that giving and receiving are inextricably linked; there truly is no selfishness in following your heart and giving to yourself, whatever society might have us believe. And it’s not always about receiving money – there are so many ways to be rich, and so many ways to give that don’t cost us.

I can’t have exhausted the possibilities. What other ways can you use your art for good? Share your ideas and stories in the comments!

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