Having run a Kickstarter campaign for a friend’s first film, I knew some ins and outs and had done quite a lot of research. I knew crowdfunding could be an interesting and most importantly, engaging, way to fund a project. However, it took me a while to work out my project—something different and interesting enough to not just be everyday art fundraising.
While working on a business mentoring scheme called New Creative Markets, over about four months, I brainstormed and planned where I wanted to go with my work.
On an artist’s income, the decision to move cross-country was an obviously scary financial venture. And “Fund me to move my studio” isn’t a good enough proposal for backers.
Moreover, I also wanted to really launch into the new side of art/science in my work and London was too limiting. (Unfortunately, London is not particularly renowned for its geology or astronomy in the urban light pollution.)
My background for both goals was strong. I’d been cycling and walking the coastline for my painting for almost ten years now. It was easy to narrow down the candidates for new homes.
I already had a system of three sketchbooks in place—seacoast, geology, and astronomy—but never felt comfortable combining them. Recently I’d been invited to start giving art and astronomy talks—just combining topics I loved because I loved them. So if I moved somewhere with more geology and astronomy communities that side of the practice could have a chance to grow.
“Sea, Sky, and Stone” was drafted to achieve the first two goals in one project: moving my studio to the Yorkshire coast by means of sharing a unique sketchbook combining my art, geology and star drawings.
Doing my own Kickstarter project, I learned the most exhausting thing is promoting it. It was a gruelling 30-day schedule of blogs, social media posts, newsletters and personal emails. I decided to have a 3-tier approach on launch day.
First, I personally emailed all my VIPs—not just collectors, but people who have continually supported my career as an artist over the years—and asked them to share news of the campaign. Note that I did not ask them to pledge, just to help spread the word. And they were awesome at that!
12 hours later, I sent a newsletter to my mailing list subscribers and gave them a special head start on the campaign too. Lastly, it was announced on social media and my blog. I’d say having your own existing support network is crucial—both for financial backing and word of mouth. By the end of the first day, my VIPs alone got me to 50% of my goal. I was fully funded within three days. Flabbergasted is the only word to describe how I felt!
Some very staunch supporters insisted I keep the energy up and go for way more. So I added stretch goals. With their help, I came up with other reward ideas to add that were cool but wouldn’t cost me much. (Not spending all your fundraising on the rewards and postage is vital!)
In addition to screenprints and videos, my favourite “stretch” goal idea was to send fossils with the finished books. I love fossil hunting on the stretch of coast around Saltwick Bay, just north of where I’ve moved. I can’t believe I’m giving a reward that is really a fun excuse to go hit rocks with a hammer.
One amazing supporter kept bumping me to the next goal when I got close. At first I chided her but gave up because she kept sneaking in and pledging again anyway. She’ll soon realise what a crazy artist she’s enabled!
So here are my top tips for starting on your crowdfunding project:
Most of all, just do something that gets you excited. By the time, I was ready to launch you couldn’t shut me up. (sorry everyone)
Oh, and that third goal of mine? Working on that. My campaign is just the start of a three-year project. Next year will be working on a second book where I’ll commission and involve other artists and scientists with their drawings. 2016 is the planned date to launch an art/science-themed gallery specialising in drawings. In the seaside town of Scarborough where there is little high-end art scene. Heck, I like a challenge! Oh, wait. I should shut up now.[Editor’s Note: My takeaways from this fascinating Kickstarter art project success story are these:
Combine those elements with your Kickstarter art project campaign with Tina’s other invaluable advice to give yourself the best odds of success with it.