Crowdfunding

Tis the season for giving, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about a new trend: crowdfunding.  My husband and I have become hooked on TED Talks and one of them we watched was given by musician and artist Amanda Palmer.  It was called, “The Art of Asking.”  She started out as a street performer and talked about the experience of asking for money without saying a word.  Are we obligated as observers to pay for viewing art?  No.  But maybe we should be.  Most of the time, art shows are free, working on a donation only basis.  So how do artists make a living?  One answer that more and more artists as well as entrepreneurs are turning to is crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.”  Many successful startups began this way.  Over the summer, I attended a fantasy conference in Detroit and crowdfunding was the topic of one of the presentations.  Here is what I learned.

Let’s start with some of the companies that host crowdfunding projects.  Kickstarter is probably one of the most well-known and will probably get you the widest audience.  They have an all or nothing approach where your project is either funded or not.  Gofundme is popular for charity projects.  Pubslush is specifically for literary projects.  With Indiegogo, you get to keep the money you raise, but the organization takes a larger cut.  They’re all worth looking into!

What kinds of projects might you post?  Anything from selling BBQ sauce to publishing a novel.  You also set the parameters for what you’re trying to raise.  One author said she only asked for half the money she would need to publish her book.  You want to set realistic goals to improve your chances of getting funded.  You can even ask  for help in funding additional items like marketing and cover design.  In fact, it’s important to think about all aspects and possible expenses before jumping in.

Some tips for a successful campaign:

  • Make sure your campaign stands out.  One way is through making a video, but keep it short and to the point (2 minutes tops).  Projects with a video are more likely to get funded.
  • Make sure you can deliver a good product.
  • Have a completed project to insure success.
  • There’s a pay-it-forward option that allows you to give back to the community that supported you.
  • Have a pre-campaign, as well as one during, and after.
  • Offer press releases to let people know.  Use social media, forums, etc.
  • Develop a street team of fans who can create blasts on the internet to get the word out.
  • You want a big push from the start.  If you hit 50% right away, you’ll probably get funded.
  • Make sure your rewards for donations can be fulfilled.  Also make the rewards fun and enticing like offering free BBQ sauce or signed copies of books.  Virtual prizes are also common and free for you.

Here are some specific examples of rewards you can offer:

  • Authors can provide critiques
  • Have someone’s name included in your story
  • Personal video thank you
  • Read tarot
  • Offer to read your story to someone or record it
  • Have a digital book giveaway

Additional tips for writers trying to publish a book:

  • You can choose to self-publish the project using the funds OR use a publisher who manages the details for you.  (Cool, right?)
  • It helps to provide author interviews, and you probably won’t have to pay to get them.

*Remember that you can only give what you make.  There are also some rules about giving away food.

Getting back to Amanda Palmer’s TED Talk.  As a musician, she almost never stays in a hotel, relying on the hospitality of her fans.  But she also makes them a part of the rock star experience in a more intimate way.  She’s known for allowing her fans to write comments on her body with markers after a show.  That’s what I call trust!  So it’s definitely a give and take process, born out of mutual respect.

There’s actually all types of crowdfunding, not limited to the above mentioned organizations.  When a writer asks for feedback from fans on a published story and then incorporates their suggestions into the next story, I would consider that a form of crowdfunding.  There’s no monetary exchange, but I would argue that you are still asking for donations.  You want to make a better book and gain ideas from your fans.  In exchange, your fans are involved in the process.  Check out the book Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields for details on how this works.

I’ve also seen many artists include simple donation buttons on their websites and blogs.  They might ask for help in keeping them supplied with materials like brushes and paint.  The downside is that you might feel obligated to produce art in a certain way to please the fans that are supporting you.  I’ve toyed with the idea of including a donation button on my blog, but haven’t done so yet 😉

Whatever you decide, to crowdfund or not to crowdfund, it is useful to know there are options out there.  Either way, it is certainly an exciting time to be an artist/entrepreneur.  As we delete the middle man and form more symbiotic relationships between creator and audience, there are no limits to what we can achieve!  And certainly, everyone benefits.

 

 

Visualizing Your Dreams

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build.” –Robert Collier

Here I am pinpointing two of my dreams: to publish a book and visit Italy.

While in Columbus, I visited the warehouse located at 400 West Rich Street, which houses several art/design studios.  It’s a unique concept in which art is helping to revive an area of the city.  I would love to be part of the same effort in Detroit.

I also visited The Book Loft, a local bookstore in German Village.  There are a total of 32 rooms to wind your way through, but somehow I found the children’s section.  I would love to see my own books here, too 🙂

As you know, I’ve been reading SARK’s book “Making Your Creative Dreams Real.” One of my favorite chapters is “The World of Yes.” Why? Because it’s so positive! She gives new meaning to the word love.

Letting

Our

Visions

Emerge

How can we do that? By visualizing!  When we visualize each step of our dream, we’re more likely to make it a reality.  SARK says, “We visualize our creative dreams and some part of us says YES.  I can do that…  It can happen…  We can build it…”  So start visualizing and say YES! to your dream.

My husband and I spotted another bucket list in Montreal!  It turns out people are dreaming all over the world.  Check it out

The Heidelberg Project: Revitalizing Detroit through Art

I recently had the opportunity to experience The Heidelberg Project in Detroit.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the project, it’s basically one huge art installation consisting of a block of houses on Heidelberg Street in an urban area on the East Side.  Tyree Guyton is the founder and artistic director.  He displays found objects in creative and thought-provoking ways.

I’m always up for an adventure, especially one that involves viewing local art in the community.  So when a friend of mine suggested a visit, I immediately said “YES!”  But I had no idea what I was in for.

Follow me as I take you on a guided tour.  But beware.  This is only my personal view.  You have to experience it yourself to get the full story.  A couple of tips:  Definitely bring a camera.  You can simply drive by the project, but I suggest that you walk through it.  Total immersion.  Let yourself feel something.  You might even walk away feeling changed, as I did.

As an avid reader, children’s librarian, and author/illustrator, I walked through this exhibition feeling like I’d fallen into a fantasy story.  Think Return to Oz meets Alice in Wonderland meets And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street meets The Phantom Tollbooth

Here are some of my favorite houses!

Some of the recurring themes are:

Where can God be found?

The Taxi

The political commentary was endless…

There are many faces to the story being told.

Some provide comic relief

While others send a powerful message

Material and environment seem to coexist in some sort of beautiful irony.

There are very few words in this exhibition, so the words included have greater impact.  As an artist, I found inspiration here.

What I like best about the project is that it’s a work in progress. Nothing, not even fire, can destroy it. Perhaps that says something about the city itself.

I’m not originally from Detroit.  I moved to the metro area several years ago.  The city loomed like an enormous tin man.  But my first thought when I got here was that underneath all the industrial layers, it had heart.  Even now, I have to admit that Detroit still remains somewhat of a mystery to me.  At the same time, I support all of its revitalization efforts.  After all, who doesn’t love a good comeback story?

Art Isn’t

Art isn’t perfect.

It’s well-intentioned

intuitive

thoughtful and

thought-provoking

expressive

messy; experimental

effort and practice

and sometimes failure

transformed into “happy mistakes”

 

It’s vision

in translation

fast turns and skid marks

wiping away and letting go

 

spaces to breathe

 

full of emotion!

a culmination

of all that we are

and what we can be

if we try

 

© 2013 Angie Kidd all rights reserved

Highlighting the Journey

I’m reporting live from the trenches!  Today we focus on action. Today we take a step towards our destiny. We choose a path and our journey begins. Where will your journey take you? I’m not talking about the destination. I’m talking about the places you fell down and first learned about yourself along the way.  Here are some highlights from my journey.  Keep digging!

calligraphy ink on rice paper

calligraphy ink on rice paper

This is the Japanese kanji character for zen.  I took my first Japanese language class last year, and we practiced calligraphy for the final session.  Everyone had to choose a subject.  Most people started out with something simple like “tree.”  My sensei said I chose a complicated one.  Of course!  What better way to learn than by failing from the start.  This is a zen practice, although I’m not sure I was feeling zen at the time.  We only got 3 attempts.  No pressure 😉  I chose to share this one with you because of its overall feeling.  I actually see it as two entities reaching out to each other, trying to grasp something intangible.  The best part of the class was when our sensei told us that the school was donating the calligraphy kits to us.  I got a stone and a stick of ink.  Now all I needed were brushes!

The biggest calligraphy brush ever!

The biggest calligraphy brush ever!

You can see where I’m going with this 😉  The next stop on my journey was to a brush shop at a temple in Japan.  I actually didn’t buy my brushes here, but I did find a brush stand and another unexpected treasure.  Colored inksticks!

Painting of Horses at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horses at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horse at Senjokaku Shrine

Painting of Horse at Senjokaku Shrine

These are photos I took of paintings I saw while visiting The Hall of a Thousand Tatami Mats, which I mentioned in a previous post.  I became really inspired by these horses in particular.  I couldn’t wait to get home and start painting some of my own!  Just remember, you only get this kind of inspiration off the beaten path.  So get going!  See where your journey takes you….

Ringing in 2013!

I just returned from a trip to Japan to visit my in-laws. I feel like this country is my second home, mostly because of the kindness of my husband’s family. One of the new year traditions in Japan is to go to the shrine and ring a very large bell. I don’t usually post photos of myself, but I thought this one would be an appropriate way to highlight my enthusiasm for 2013.

IMG_6955

Ringing in year 2013 at a Japanese shrine!

I had the usual end of year feelings of an artist. Had I accomplished enough? Was it good? Was I truly meant to be an artist? Confirmation came in unexpected places. One of which was having the pleasure of drawing with my 5-year-old nephew. I was the only one he allowed to draw on his cardboard house with him. What an honor! Of course I drew my signature frog for him 😉

I had also brought a small sketch book with me to Japan, promising myself I would draw while there.  Then on one of the final nights we all went to dinner together to surprise my husband’s mother for her birthday.  I ended up sketching a picture of a borzoi, my mother-in-law’s favorite dog, for her as a gift. She was moved to tears by it, which warmed my heart like nothing else.

I realized what my focus must always be: #1 inspiring children #2 sharing my art with others

Thus far my goals for 2013 are this: to find my voice in my writing and to find my style in my art

How do I plan to get inspired? My husband gave me some inktense pencils as a Christmas gift. I also brought home some great new art tools from Japan including calligraphy pens, brush pens, and colored calligraphy ink. I can’t wait to start experimenting with them!

What are your goals for the new year?  What inspires you about 2013?  Please share!

SCBWI Bulletin Suggests Some Useful Art Books

Check out "Art Tips" on page 10

Check out “Art Tips” on page 10

The new issue of the SCBWI Bulletin came out recently and it’s packed with great info, advice, and illustrations.  I especially enjoyed Alison Davis Lyne’s column titled “Art Tips.”  She lists several useful art books including some to help you create memorable characters.  My personal favorite of the bunch is Exploring Color by Nita Leland.  It helps you see color in new and surprising ways.  I especially enjoyed the part about how we recognize objects by shape, not color.  This gives us freedom to color an apple purple, if we want.  I encourage you to try it out.  Make a monkey blue or a tree orange.  Go for it!

Books to Inspire the Creative Life

Writing Down the Bones

This book is my writing bible.

This Time I Dance

Helped me leave my career to pursue my dream.

On Becoming an Artist

Learn the mindful approach to art

The War of Art

See yourself as a professional (You, Inc.)

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