Posted by: Liz Massey | December 22, 2009

Gifts Artists Love

Photo courtesy Benjamin Earwicker via SXC.

As the days wind down to Christmas, gift giving can become less of an exercise in generosity and more of a frantic race to meet societal obligations. However, a week or so ago, I did a little survey among my social networks to see what artists and other creative people really wanted for holiday gifts.

The results may surprise you. Many folks had very clear, specific presents in mind, but not all of them were material or tangible. A number of respondents wished for the gifts of time, understanding, presence, etc.—a sign that it’s possible to make the artists in your life happy by just taking the time to appreciate and support their creative urges.

Take a look at the gift wish lists that these creators have so kindly shared with us, and see if it doesn’t help you remember the joys of giving gifts that truly delight the recipient.

A lasting legacy

“What gifts would I love for the coming year? Well, there’s tangible and intangible.

“Tangible first: A brand new PC, built for speed and mega storage – boasting Windows 7 and loaded with Adobe’s CS4 Suite, plus a BIG monitor to make editing a little easier on my eyes.

“Intangible: An increased awareness among the public of the value of preserving, celebrating and sharing personal stories on video – and an appreciation of the value of hiring video biographers like me to create legacy videos.

Steve Pender, writer-producer, owner of Family Legacy Video


Holiday presence

“To state publicly what my inner artist desires is a very healing ritual, as I traditionally keep these needs and wishes to myself.

“In terms of tangibles, I would love a good, portable roll-up keyboard with touch-sensitive keys that I could take with me on composing retreats.

“My inner artist would also love to discover someone who would hold my hand and help me set up a Facebook and Twitter profile … A little reassurance about establishing a better cyber presence and balance between the real and virtual world would go a long way.

“My inner artist would also like to see the gift-exchange of PRESENCE between people this holiday season and beyond. If we all focused more on being present, rather than shopping for presents, our senses would bring us into a more sensitive, reciprocal, and beautiful way of living.”

Lynn Skinner, vocal coach and musician, Vocal Eyes Music


Gift certificates rock!

“A gift certificate to Luyben Music in Kansas City would be nice, and a Guitar Center gift certificate would be nice for (rock music). It would be hard for someone else to get the brand of strings I like or know what sheet music I’m after.”

Melissa Higgins, musician, Melissande String Trio


Play time

“Please no one buy me supplies! Ha ha! I’m far too fussy about my materials.

“My wish list is more the intangibles you mention. My inner artist wants to just play, (indulge in) a bit of escapism. My studio is my 9-5 job (well, 11-7 to be honest) so I’d rather have a non-art Christmas for a break. Just some pretty things to absorb, funny things to laugh at and space and time to laze about.

“I have a Blockbuster ‘to rent’ list – so on the tangible side I suppose a gift card for that would be good! I’ve (also) asked for a few albums and DVDs and a World of Warcraft expansion pack.

“The people I live with are giving me the unintentional gift of going away for a week, leaving me with a house all to myself. Hoorah! It’s been a challenging year on many fronts, so I’d like a Christmas of good old-fashioned laziness and indulgence.”

Tina Mammoser, artist and author of The Cycling Artist blog


A year for art

“I’ve been asking the Universe for a year to devote to my art.  Having to figure out a way to pay the bills every month takes a lot of energy that I could be using more creatively.  That’s what I’d like for Christmas.”

Jody Biesche, musician, Kansas City, Mo.


Hand (and heart) made gifts

“I love gifts that people make for me. Food, a card—small gifts with big heart.

“On the material/commercial side, a gift card to an art supply place is fun. While I love my Pitt pens and color pencils, I think I’d be less than thrilled to know someone had spent money on a brand I don’t like or use.”

Quinn McDonald, artist, writer, creativity coach, and author of the Quinn Creative blog


Baked with love

“I think one of the best gifts an artist can receive is something handmade with love. For me, it doesn’t have to be extravagant. I’m delighted by a simple card or yummy baked goods.

“My personal inner artist is excited to be going home to be with family, and that feels like a true gift to me. Happy Holidays to you and yours and remember what’s important: good friends, family and the simple things.”
Sheri Gaynor, author, “Creative Awakenings: Envisioning the life of your dreams through art.”


Tools and company

“I think that the tangible things musicians most want would be tools.  If I didn’t have one (it was a present several years ago, and I use it all the time), I would want a spiral binding machine.  Nothing is better for making printed-out music, whether it is music I am writing or photocopied (or printed from a PDF) music that I am playing, easy to use.  I would love to have a really high quality digital recorder, but the kind I want is a little above our usual family present budget.  Instrument accessories, including really good carrying bags for music and other things are always great gifts.

“A great intangible gift would be having someone arrange a chamber music “evening” for me by contacting the people, setting up the location, and (perhaps) providing the refreshments (I mentioned my 60th birthday wish on my blog, and I’m totally serious about it).  If someone were ever to arrange for a concert of music that I have written without my knowledge of the plan, I would be totally floored.

“Musical DVDs are great tangible gifts, but the gift of enthusiastically watching the DVD with the person who is getting the gift (even if it is a long opera) is a great intangible present. Tickets to performances, under the same circumstances, work just as well.”

Elaine Fine, musician, author of Musical Assumptions blog


Go local

Many artists want a certain tool or item but sometimes there is not enough in their budget. A gift card to a store they frequent is always a good idea, but giving them one to a specialized store means even more!

“Take me, for instance. I am an all-around crafter, but I am a bigger knitter. While I love getting cards to Joann’s or Michael’s, I would love if I got a gift card to an online knitting store or to a local yarn shop even more. (Gifts like these) provide a three-fold gift; 1 – you are telling your recipient, “I know you and your love of this particular interest and know you could really get a lot of out this gift.” 2 – you are putting money back into the local economy and 3 – there is a great big chance that the finished item could come back to you!

“(A good small-gift idea) is a flash drive. This can come in handy for ALL artists and crafters. A musician can use it to store their music; a writer, to hold their latest novel; a photographer, their art; and crafters can use it to hold pattern direction instructions, photos of the latest project, size information, etc.”

Becky Dewey, crafter and knitter, Phoenix, Ariz.


A room of her own

“I would love anything that anyone creates for me – a little poem or limerick would make me feel loved …  My daughter Amy has been thoughtful with giving me concert tickets. I also like the idea of a ‘room with a view’ – time and space with my creative tools in a beautiful, inspirational setting.”

Pat O’Mealey, writer, musician, and artist (and Liz’s life partner!)


The question to you…

What is it that your inner artist desires for a holiday present? Answer in the comments field below.


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