Be Smart About Art

Making a difference this festive season

written by: Susan Mumford Dec. 10, 2017 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 54593 views

Making a difference this festive season

In the picture: It was snowing in London the day we got our tree! A minimum of £5 is donated to St. Christopher's Hospice for each tree purchased. As of 10th December, more than £32,000 had been raised (by this and similar locations across the country), and their aim before 25th December is £40,000. Goes to show that a little bit can really add up :-). 


As we near the festive break, I found myself thinking of ‘Grandad,’ my long since departed maternal grandfather. I was recalling various memories of him from my own childhood days, considering how happy it must’ve made him to see his own children and grandchildren having an easier time than he’d had at the same age.

Raised in rural north-east Texas, his father passed away on the kitchen table from an operation gone wrong, leaving his widow and seven surviving children to fend for themselves. To make matters worse, one sister died in a bonfire while still a kid. The long and short is that the kids grew up in difficult circumstances, poor on a farm. Thanks to Grandad's oldest surviving sister, who’d learned the importance of education from the school teacher father, all her younger siblings received an education.

Having had plenty of space to do sports out in the fields, my grandfather (alongside his brothers) received a sports scholarship for university, and on top of that, worked in the kitchen and did other jobs such as clean the gym before school dances. (The story goes that the boss for the latter would do things like leave a door open so that Grandad could attend dances, and it was at one such occasion where he first saw his future wife. Apparently on the way home, he declared wtih certainty to a friend that he’d marry her.)

His career had many parts, including being a sports coach, being in the U.S. Navy during World War II (barely missing being shipped out) and having owned a life insurance brokerage. Yet, no matter how much success he experienced, he knew that life could be tough. He was known for being a kind and caring man, and no doubt his childhood resulted in an abundance of gratitude.

Fast forwarding to his grand-daughter’s life today, and considering the ‘why’ behind people going into creative careers, I know from my own professional experience, research conducted while pursuing my M.A., and multiple conversations that the answer is having an enduring drive to follow such a professional life. It’s not a straightforward trajectory and typically takes years of blood, sweat and tears to achieve sustainability.

Long-time readers know that I have an ongoing quest to support individuals pursuing careers of their choosing - who I might add are important for the local economy and culture. Creative professionals I’ve met over time are much the same, in supporting other independent businesses, creatives, and generally championing local causes to help make the world a better place.

So when I recently stumbled upon Archduke’s ‘The Truth About Christmas’ video, I set to dedicating today’s Sunday Digest, only a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas (and several days before Hanukkah starts) to the cause of making a difference with your purse. 

Here are some examples of my own: Holiday cards that support a local museum; a Christmas tree purchase that supports St. Christopher’s Hospice charity; tree ornaments that help to provide sustainability for artisans in rural Kashmir; a turkey coming from a local farm; and various presents made of recycled materials or having been made by artisans in need. This is conscious buying in action, and requires dedication. While I could’ve bought tree ornaments in bulk in one go, I’d rather get a few this year, and slowly build the collection over time, knowing that every piece acquired is doing good in the world.

Together, we can make a difference.

And like a work of art, each gift or purchase will have a story to tell.

Much like when I taught fellow students about recycling when I was at university, and they would educate their families who would take up the activity, you can do the same during the festive season. Tell others about how you’re supporting independent businesses, artists, designer-makers, good causes – you name it. 

With this in mind, Be Smart About Art will be dedicating 25% of proceeds from sales of our own book (Art is your life. Make it your living.) this festive season to the charity No Kid Hungry (Arkansas).

Thanks to having forerunners like Grandad, I grew up with ample food on the table. However, being from one of the poorest of the USA’s states, I’ve seen plenty of poverty in my time. Whereas I get shocking responses out in the world to being from Arkansas (most recently, someone at a London art reception said, “I’m sorry” to my face!), I’m grateful for having seen the realities of life – and for respecting individuals no matter their backgrounds or circumstances. This is why we’re specifically donating to the Arkansas division of No Kid Hungry. Though I've ventured out into the world and live thousands of miles away, I’m keen to support kids 'back home' with ability and potential who are in need of one of life’s most important needs: food in the belly.

Buy a book as a festive prezzie to yourself, and/or get one for a friend [with free shipping :-)]:

UK – 14.95 GBP BUY HERE [purchase by Wednesday 21st December!]

USA – 22.50 USD BUY HERE [purchase by Sunday 17th December!]

Based elsewhere? Select the 'UK' option and we'll post it to you ASAP. 

Buying a book to be sent directly to a friend / loved one? After making your purchase, send instructions by email to


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