The truth is, I don’t know much about how to play this game, but I have learned a few things, and I have a few opinions. People are raising funds all over the place for plenty of good causes (shelter dogs, for example) and more recently for independent projects (I want to make an album, for example). I did it myself back in May through Kickstarter, and while my project was not successful I got a lot from the experience.
I planned my project around a trip to Portland for the World Domination Summit. I love the NW coast and I had trouble with the idea of flying out there and not taking the opportunity to explore the landscape with my camera, but it wasn’t in the budget and thus was born my project. My goal was ambitious, $10,958 in 30 days. I only made it to $4,777, and while I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed it turned out to be for the best.
When I decided to use Kickstarter to raise money I did not know it was called crowdfunding and I did not know there are many platforms to do this. Kickstater, it turns out, I would not have chosen in hindsight. There are quite a few crowdfunding sites out there with all kinds of variations. More on that in a moment, but first here’s what I did wrong.
My project was too vague and too large in scope. I set a trap for failure.
Failure in raising the funds and likely in completing the project as intended. After an intense weekend of absorbing information, workshops, and socializing, it was my intention to spend a week driving over 600 miles along the Columbia River interviewing environmental artists and environmental restoration projects while documenting the Confluence Project and points of interest along the trail of Lewis and Clark. Meanwhile, I would be taking video (with no video experience), photographs, and keeping a daily journal of my experience. Whew, and that was just the beginning. Upon returning home I intended to create a book (which I’ve never done), DVD (also never done), limited edition of prints, and have myself a showing of the work. If it had worked I’d likely be suicidal by now.
Save the world? WAY TOO MUCH!
If you are going to ask for money to do a project, be sure you know exactly what you want to do and have some idea how to do it.
Next, my motivation was to learn how art can be used to influence environmental consciousness, preservation, and restoration. Good enough, but the project I was focused on was outdoor art installations and I am a neither a sculptor nor an architect. I’m sure I would have learned a lot, but perhaps not much I could use in my work. Again, I think I’d have done better sticking to what I know.
Then, given my skill at social media networking (which is not so good), I was going for too much money in too little time. I probably could have gotten there in 60 or 90 days, but 30 was not enough. I raised almost $5,000 which could have funded a good photo exploration and production of a book. I could have managed that…oh well.
Lastly, being ignorant of any other options, I went with Kickstarter, which is an all or nothing fundraising platform. If you reach your goal or go beyond, the money is yours less a fee, but if you fall short, even by a few dollars, nothing. Which brings me to the options I’ve discovered, which are many. The following is a list I came upon and I’m sure there are more.
Some of these are specific to musicians or film makers, others for charities or startups, but for visual artists or crafters I’d suggest IndieGoGo. Why? The main reason is they don’t have the all or nothing payment model. You get what you raise less a fee regardless of making your goal. Secondly, they seem to be open to a wider variety of projects and have less restrictions. For more information on Kickstarter and Indie GoGo with some good suggestions for planning a project, check this article. The comments are informative, too.
Now lets get to the conversation part of this story. I still have some issues with all this fundraising and I’d love your opinions. Fundraising is nothing new, but this individual project funding is. Artists used to have patrons way back when, and more recently were funded through grants and fellowships through things like the PEW and NEAA. While these things still exist, it is increasingly difficult to get the funding and cuts are being made. So, what’s an artist to do? Do it yourself, it seems, but I question the integrity in that even though I’ve done it myself and likely will again.
I struggle with same old worthiness issues knowing that there are so many truly worthy causes out there that need money. To be honest, I get a little resentful (guilty) at all the requests I get to give, because they are all worthwhile and I only have so much. Even at a meager $10 a pop it adds up when there are abused dogs, and cancer, and no clean water, and films to be made, and on and on. Oh, and then there is this. My friend Colleen is raising $50,000 for her 50th birthday and donating it to Write Girl, an LA based non profit that empowers girls through writing. How awesome is that?
That makes me feel kinda jerky for wanting to raise money for art projects, but then again, who will fund the arts?
What do you think?