The ARTIST SUPPORT PLEDGE is a culture and economy of artists, and art lovers, led by Matthew Burrows, and started in 2020 in response to the COVID pandemic. It is now a global movement of connected artists and people who like art and want to support artists, in a sustainable economy across social media and the world.

The project uses the social media platform Instagram – which has become the most popular platform for artists to share their work – and receives dozens of posts every second of every day.

The way it works, is that artists who join the pledge, are free to upload photos of their work and details including price using #artistsupportpledge, and also including an image of the pledge logo. The art that is posted must not exceed £200 or $200 (or equivalent in their home currency). If people are interested to buy, they contact the artist directly and organise payment and shipping between themselves. There is no third party involved.

Then, every time an artist reaches £200 (or $200) in sales, they pledge to buy £200/$200 of work from other artists involved in the pledge.

It was born out of desperation. A urgent realisation that as things closed down, life could well begin to get very difficult. This was not only true for Matthew’s own livelihood but, in hearing stories from friends in the arts, theirs too. “I just thought I’ve got to do something and I’ve got to do something radical and I’ve got to do it now” he says. “Not tomorrow, not next week or spending time thinking about it. It’s got to be done today”.

What become the Artist Support Pledge was born out of a small list on a piece of paper. Having decided that he needed to do something, Matthew put together a list outlining his own assets. “I only got two” he laughs. The first was artwork and “artists tend to have a lot of that”. Followed by “a culture of trust and generosity”. These two elements from this small list would form the core of the pledge. You sell your art but in doing so you buy into that culture.

Trust as a core element was particularly key. Selling online direct to buyers means that both the buyer and the seller have to trust in good intent. Likewise, as this is a pledge, there is trust there that the artist will then fulfill their pledge to buy another artists work for £200. There is no policing of this, indeed that would defeat the point. This is about creating a culture where the propensity to trust is the norm.

Matthew Burrows, founder of The Artist Support Pledge.

Generosity came next. Art must be sold at no more than £200. This levels the playing field and creates a range of affordable artworks. Artists whose work might normally fetch more in the gallery would be committing to only selling for that price. That fact that at some point they themselves would then buy work from someone else only cements this underlying principle. Generosity is key in order to get the market moving and generally streamline the process.

All this is then underpinned by the artwork. Some artists sold existing stock, some put out editions. Others created new work and a number took commissions based on the principle of the pledge. All were advertised on instagram with buyers able to follow the #artistsupportpledge hashtag. The resulting interest created whole extra market worth of sales. Buyers too found themselves discovering new artists because of the immediate and visual nature of the platform.

Connectedness seems to have been a factor in terms of it’s growth. The fact that given the platform and the direct nature of it, buyers were able to connect on a deeper more personal level with the artist themselves. “They just loved it” explains Matthew. “Loved the culture, they loved the ethos, they loved the message of hope. They bought in completely to the community”. Messaging directly allowed for deeper conversations to go on and as such a deeper bond between the buyer and the artist.

Social media and the way it work was, perhaps not surprisingly, key. This was especially true given that it was all happening on instagram. Many other factors would also play a part in what became a perfect storm of an idea. Covid-19 itself and the sense of urgency generated by it being one. But also Matthew says “the gatekeepers left the gates”. Meaning that a mindset shift was taking place in terms of the ‘rules of the game’. A change of thinking around how “we behave as artists and buyers”. It remains to be seen how much of this change will stick.

ASP works by example, showing how a generous culture behaves and exploring the values that maintain its ethos. At the core of this is a commitment to equality of opportunity FOR ALL and an accessible platform to participate.

ASP believes that an equitable and sustainable future economically and environmentally must begin by examining the cultural values we live by; that artists are central to this debate; and that ALL artists are important in maintaining the permaculture that is our global artistic ecosystem. If one part suffers we all do.


We must learn to see, and see generously. Even artists struggle to ‘see’. 

One of the pleasures of buying art is I learning this. We often talk of people with ‘refined taste’. Perhaps a better understanding of seeing is ‘A Generous Eye’. Like everything else, it takes practice, so here’s a few pointers to help. 

  1. Look with curiosity and awareness.
  2. Enjoy it and expect to be surprised.
  3. Be patient and look slowly. 
  4. Don’t judge things to be good or bad, just let them spark your mind and see where they take you. 
  5. Remember that art is a gift not an acquisition. We merely pay for the artist to have enough freedom to create more gifts. 
  6. An artist needs food, materials to make and the hope that what they do matters. Your support is always greater than the value paid.

Thank you investors, for your support and generosity. We move in uncertain times, but with a generous eye, all things are possible. 

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