Being A “Patron Of The Arts” In The Digital Age

The way we support artists has changed since the time of lords and Queens — in some ways, it’s never been easier.

Emily Sinclair Montague
4 min readSep 21, 2020


This piece originally appeared on The Fem Word

In the so-called olden days - when bearded men wearing flowing tunics created statues of not-so-bearded men wearing nothing at all - artists had patrons.

These were wealthy people who regularly commissioned artists out of admiration for their work. It was expected that the aristocracy of any given nation perform this role, as it was a source of cultural pride and a guarantee that these nobles would be immortalized through the art of masters.

These patrons were not merely occasional buyers of paintings, but rather sustained supporters who provided significant sums of money to those who created all forms of artistic work. Patrons were the people artists catered to, as these supporters would order personalized art that suited their own wants and needs.

Whether you were a poet, a portraitist, an architect, a muralist, or any other kind of creator, patronage used to be the way you guaranteed a viable career for yourself. If you wished to create work outside of the made-to-order kind, you had to establish yourself first through a network of patrons.

Art was the realm of the wealthy and the well-connected. Kings and Queens, Dukes and Barons and Duchesses — these were the titles attached to any patron worthy of note. It was not for the common crowd, who wasn’t believed to have any knowledge of artistic merit in the first place.

That was then. The picture looks very different now. The term “patron” itself is not used very often these days, though remnants of it can be found in the names of creator-support sites such as Patreon. In the digital age, patronage is more of a piecemeal endeavor than a significant investment in any one artist.

To define the modern patron, I will rely on the simple foundation of what patrons mean to creators.



Emily Sinclair Montague

Author & Full-Time Writer. Embracing life’s chaos one word at a time. Get in touch at (or don’t, but I love the attention)!