Since this is the last installment of my queer creatives series for the year, and since the holiday/gift-giving season is upon us, I wanted to do something a bit different.
Instead of profiling a single creative, I wanted to share a few unique gift ideas for your favorite creative. Whether they are a drag artist, a writer or ANY kind of creative, there is something on this list that will put a smile on their face and inspiration in their heart.
Each section features an experience you can gift, a book and tools to help them keep on creating on!
Gifts for all artists and creatives
Membership to Arts Mission
One thing that any kind of creative craves is a space to create as well as a place to be among like-minded and inspiring artists. Better than a co-working space, Arts Mission offers up an amazing old church as a hidden creative haven for artists of all mediums. Monthly memberships start at $100 a month, but the energy and inspiration to foster your creativity you’ll get in return is priceless.
I was a member this year and I can vouch that this space, this family that Anastasia Munoz and her team have created will do wonders for your creative productivity.
Arts Mission Oak Cliff also offers up a variety of performances, classes, sewing space, variety shows and book clubs that range from free to always accessible in price. Check out this month’s schedule and membership at artsmissionoc.com.
“The Art Spirit” by Robert Henri
This book BY FAR has been both a bible and an oracle to me throughout my creative career. The Art Spirit is a compilation of writing fragments, speeches and thoughts from dissident artist Robert Henri. Even though Henri was a painter, this book isn’t about a singular medium of art, but about an attitude — the artist’s attitude, mindset and lens through which they see, and then make art out of, the world.
Because this is not a book in the traditional sense of a story with a beginning, middle and end, you can turn to any page and begin reading for inspiration. Whenever I have a question or need a little inspiration, I hold my desire/question in my head and open the book to a random page and read what my eyes first see. It has always given me sage advice.
The Art Spirit is my must-have book for any artist.
Square/PayPal card reader OR online merchant
With this first gift option, you are providing a way for your artist friend to take payments in person. Square and Paypal’s mobile readers are amazing options for taking physical payments. Both require you to purchase a card reader — which is where the gift comes in.
Pick whichever one will be easier for your friend. I personally use PayPal’s mobile card reader, and I love it!
If they’ve been dying to create an online shop, gift them a year’s subscription to Big Cartel, Shopify or Send Owl. All these online merchants are cost-effective and easy to use and set up shop so you can start selling your merch online!
Gifts for writers
Ticket to DFWCon
Named one of the best writing conferences in America by The Writer Magazine, DFWCon (The Dallas-Fort Worth Writing Conference) is one of the best places in Dallas to sharpen your writing skills. The weekend event happens in June and is two days full of classes, agent pitches, awesome catered lunches and networking.
I had no idea how much I would benefit from a writer’s conference until I went to this one. Not only did I get fabulous writing advice, but I made life-long writing friends. If you want to make your writer friend’s year, snag them a ticket for this awesome conference! Check them out at dfwcon.org
“Still Writing” by Dani Shapiro and/or “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg
Coming up with just one book to gift your writer friend was impossible because there are so many great writing books. But these two have been my go-to sources for decades.
Still Writing focuses more broadly on the creative life and is written in a memoir-esque style. Writing Down the Bones, on the other hand, is set to do one thing: get you writing. Both are essential to a writer’s library. And either one will help a writer take their craft to the next level.
Stash of their favorite pen or notebook
I know that this gift might seem archaic in our age of technology, iPhones and MacBook Pros, but believe it or not, most writers still love and reach for a pen and notebook to jot down their thoughts, story ideas and notes.
I have carried what I call my blue notebook with me for the past four years. My pen of choice is a Pilot G-2 05. These tools allow my ideas to flow, and they assist me in creating my best work. Find out what favorite pen or notebook if for the writer in your life and gift them a month or year’s supply. They will be ever so grateful for it!
Gifts for drag artists and/or performers
A dance, improv or theater class
Any of these movement classes will help sharpen your favorite drag artist’s performance skills. Dallas Comedy House offers amazing improv and comedy classes. Plus, they have a great LGBTQ+ community within their house.
Arts Mission or Contemporary Ballet Dallas both offer adult dance classes to help performers hone their musicality and dance skills. Gift them the one that you feel will help round them out the most.
“How to be a Drag Queen” by Brandi Amara Skyy
(Note: Tammye Nash is writing this section, not Brandi)
There’s a lot of debate these days over who can be a drag queen. Some say women — either cisgender or trans — don’t qualify, because the whole idea of a drag queen is a man dressing up as a woman to perform. Folks, that is the art of female impersonation. Yes, it comes under the heading of “drag,” but it is not the totality of “drag.”
“Drag” — and this is my definition based on years of observation — is an art form an individual creates a whole new persona, a character, an expression for and of themselves, and then uses that new persona to not just create but to actually BE art. Whether that’s a man or a woman putting on stage makeup and outrageous costumes and performing on stage, or whether that’s you getting in the morning and putting on your “work drag” to go to the office to perform the art of your career, it’s “drag” (although the “work drag” kind usually omits the “queen” part).
For those who know a drag queen is living inside them and fighting to get out, Brandi’s book can help you open that door and let them breathe. And if you know someone — or if you are someone — who needs that help, this book is the perfect stocking stuffer this holiday season. It offers 32 lessons divided into six separate sections and even has DragWerk worksheets. So whether someone is yearning for their moment on stage or just looking to up their work drag game, head on over and get Brandi’s book for them now: bit.ly/howtobeadragqueenbook.
A “Drag Essentials” Gift Box
As drag artists, we can never have enough e6000, duct tape or spirit gum. One of the greatest gifts you can give to any drag artist is a box full of the items that are essential to their drag. Whatever their staples of drag are, put together a box full of everything they will need for a year of drag.
This is actually a two-fer kind of gift. Not only are you gifting them their must-have products, but you’re also gifting them the freedom to now use their money to further their drag creativity, not just maintain it. This is a special gift in and of itself.
Gifts for artists that they can give themselves
And finally, gift-giving isn’t something that we just do for others, it is also something that we should do for ourselves.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves (besides the time to do and craft our work) is an AM ritual, something that sets up our day to create. Every great artist has one. In fact, there’s a whole book about them! Gift yourself a copy of the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, and use it as inspiration to find your own AM/daily ritual and watch your creativity flourish!
Have a great holiday season! And I’ll see y’all next year! █