Background Pony #2FF1
Here's a suggestion that I think you might like, and it ties into what you want to do with "verified artists" and stuff:
Basically, artists can set up various donations links on their user pages. These would be paypal, bitcoin, etc and could be used directly to send money to a specific artist. They would also integrate into an automatic donation system, which would allow site users to donate to multiple artists at once. It would work a bit like flattr.
Each image on the site would have an extra button added, similar to fave, which would flag that image for donations (use a $ symbol for it?). A user could see a list of all images they had flagged, and they could also donate to all of them simultaneously.
When donating in this way the user would simply enter a single quantity of money which they wished to share out. That would then be divided by the number of flagged images (excluding any where the artist didn't accept donations), then each artist would get a share proportional to the number of images of theirs which the user had flagged.
To add a bit more fine-grained control for the user, maybe also allow them to select a weighting for each image so that they could say "I really like this image so give lots of money to the artist, but I like this one a bit less so give a smaller share to that other artist". Also it would be nice if the button gave some kind of indication as to whether the artist accepted donations or not, and if there was an option for anonymous donations.
Now, I don't know how feasible that would be to implement, but it would certainly make life easier for both artists and users. I think it could attract more artists to the site, as well as encouraging them to release their art for free. It would mean that users didn't need to search through dozens of DA/tumblr/furaffinity/etc accounts to give artists a bit of money, and it would massively lower the entry barrier for newer artists looking to make some small bit of money off their work.