when you buy something made by an artist

By Katie Wilde

Gift giving isn’t about ‘stuff’. I know this sounds contrary to what your stiff arms tell you as you haul shopping bags out to the car or bus, but hear me out. I think the two best parts of giving are: showing someone you’ve been thinking of them, and bringing something into their lives that they may not have discovered or experienced otherwise. The beauty of an artistic gift is that it has such potential to be personal, and always has a lasting impact, whether it is an evening of fun, a book in their library, jewelry that becomes an heirloom, a poem that makes them laugh, or an artwork that becomes a fixture in their home.

A thoughtful purchase strengthens your community, lends stability to the creative economy, and makes a bigger impact on the lives of those who mean most to you.

Here are some ideas on how you can go about giving the gift of locally-produced art, including fine craft, literature, music and performance.


Give someone an excuse to dress up and go to dinner and a show, or take their kids to a fun performance, and you’ll be the star of the show. It may surprise you to learn how many people who aren’t regular attendees of theatre, film or performance would be doubly pleased to receive tickets as a gift. It will stand out.

That local band you love? Take a friend to see them play, or buy their album. There’s nothing like discovering new music by unwrapping a CD or record given as a gift – even if it seems a little old-fashioned these days, that’s part of the charm.




Never forget we have poets in our midst, and fiction writers weaving tales from their imagination and experience. We have non-fiction authors shedding light on stories from history and our current time. These people help us discover who we are, where we came from, and what our futures might hold. Listen to them.

Skip the best-seller this time around, and give the gift of an unexpected read while supporting a local author. That book you bought for someone else but can’t wait to crack the spine on? You can feel good about indulging in a copy for your own shelves.


The Bookshelf carries works by writers in our community, Chapters at the Stone Road Mall has a Local Authors section, and you can make discoveries through Vocamus Press and The Eden Mills Writers Festival as well.


Buying art for others is a tricky business. With those closest to you, my advice is to look at art together, discover what they’re into (as sneakily or openly as you like), and buy them that exquisite piece that they just couldn’t stop talking about. Stick to something smaller for those in your extended circle. Practical gifts from fine crafters are a great bet for anyone on your list. Don’t go overboard – give a piece that made you think of them, or seems to fit their style, but that won’t disappoint you if they don’t wear it or display it prominently in their home. And if you don’t know what they’d like, give them something you like!


Holiday Season

List of Holiday Shows and Sales (Arts Blast Special Edition 2015)



Art Gallery of Guelph‘s sales and rentals

Kloepfer Gallery

Guelph Artisans Store

renann isaacs

Wellington Artists’ Gallery (closed for winter) Red Brick Café (also hosts live music), Capistrano Bistro, Diana Downtown and the Joint Cafe also regularly rotate art for sale by artists.


Get your shopping done early next year when you take advantage of pop-up opportunities such as the Guelph Studio Tour, Art on the Street, and other awesome showcases of great local art.

A Note to Artists: Remember to be proud of your work, and stand by its value.

Some artists are confident, natural businesspeople. Let me say that I’m as happy for you as I am envious! Like many creatives, I’ve always found it hard to price my work. I’m nervous about asking for too much, fearing those raised eyebrows, followed by a polite retreat. Then when I was in university, a professor told us, “When you undercut yourself, you undercut your fellow artists, and devalue the industry as a whole.” This was a revelation for many of us, and permanently changed my perspective on valuing my work.

A message to my fellow artists: Don’t cheap out on yourself! We can be our own harshest critics, and selling the fruits of your creative labour is a personal and vulnerable thing. But, if you’re giving away your work dirt cheap, not only are you sending the message that your art isn’t worth much, you’re lowering people’s expectations, making it harder for fairly-priced work to sell. This hurts all artists, including your future self. So be reasonable and flexible with your pricing, and don’t go the other direction by pricing yourself right out of the market, but do avoid the temptation to put yourself down or cheapen your work. Listen to what your fans say. You worked hard to get here, so hold true!

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