The tightening of the financial belt in art communities has inspired artists working in various disciplines and capacities to realize their raison d'être in the viral frontier, rally funding for their projects online and on their own terms. Online campaign destinations including Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and the more recent UK version WeDidThis go a step beyond social networking sites, which are limited to abstract tweets or short videos, by offering a more comprehensive platform for creatives to share their project with a growing and curious audience who can then make a financial pledge of any amount. In creating a campaign, the artist maintains their own page space on the funding website that outlines the specific details of the project, speaks to pledging incentives, counts down the days remaining on a campaign, and maintains a current blog about their project.
The emergence of the D.I.Y. Artist model in which the creative type takes it upon him or herself to promote and potentially make their project a reality is on the rise, as evidenced by the growing popularity of IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. Since its creation 2008, IndieGoGo has helped publicize 30,000 projects in 195 countries, and has about 2,000 campaigns actively raising money at any given time. Since Kickstarter debuted in 2009, more than 14,000 campaigns have been posted and been supported by more than 400,000 people. With 80 new projects launching everyday, the online audience contributes $1 million every week, and currently $35 million has already been pledged. While the statistics promise success, there is no guarantee that a campaign will reach its campaign goal. It seems that there a simple tactic that underlies the success stories promoted on these sites- the creative presents themselves as honestly as possible so that contributors know exactly what they are supporting.
A graduate student of the interactive arts at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, James Taylor's resistance of the intangibility of digital media and his emphasis on the tactility of art board games made his campaign a success on Kickstarter. Taylor created the board game "The Gentlemen of the South Sandwiche Islands," a witty and whimsical narrative that combines logic, literature, and art. Taylor feels that the success of the game rested in the decision not make the game digital but rather one that celebrates the virtues of analogue. His sense was that "the digital generation needs a break from the digital stuff, and this strangely old-timey board game--an object, a box, with a physical presence-- was more appealing."
Taylor's campaign, which ended on February 10, 2010, exceeded its original goal of $7,600, earning a grand total of $8,936.00 with the help of 151 backers. Taylor provided a pledging incentive to those who donated more than $26.00 by ensuring that they would receive a copy of the game once it was completed. Taylor used Kickstarter not only as a pure marketing and fundraising platform, but also as a destination for preorders of the game so that he could gauge the level of interest before producing a minimum run. With his funds Taylor was able to print 500 copies of "The Gentlemen of the South Sandwiche Islands," allowing him to sell 300 copies. (Taylor admits that he turned his apartment into a shipping warehouse and used the board games for furniture. Pictures from the packaging process are posted on the updates section of his Kickstarter page.) There was no back up plan if funding for "The Gentlemen" fell through; rather James said to himself, "Let's see where this goes." Check out his Kickstarter campaign - kickstarter.com/projects/1883736289/the-gentlemen-of-the-south-sandwiche-islands.
Perhaps the greatest caveat that hides beneath the veil of fundraising success is the fees that creatives are subjected to. Kickstarter and WeDidThis are both based on all-or-nothing models that charge a percentage fee when projects reach their goal. Although IndieGoGo allows creatives to keep their money if they do not meet their goal, they must also pay a percentage fee to the site. The models for D.I.Y. fundraising may not be perfect, however they do test the artists' clarity of vision that can inspire great awareness and unexpected change.
Here are some resources that publish calls-for-art and exhibition opportunities. Again, be selective! Juried opportunities come with submission fees so make sure the venue and jurors suit your schemes. Don't waste your pennies. Also research venues online–who they cater to, where they are located and if it's accessible, the caliber of shows they host, if they are credible - and figure out the jurors' credentials and sensibility based on their professional affiliations and shows they are curated. Also ask your fellow artist pals about resources.