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Crowd Funding for Artists

by Moshe Mikanovsky on 12/29/2011 9:09:16 AM

This article is by Moshe Mikanovsky, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  An emerging artist searching his way in the art world, he loves to share what he learns.  With over 20 years of technology experience, Moshe combines his technological background and his passion for the arts with the goal of "working his dream".  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


With three more days to end 2011 and greet 2012, and continuing my tradition from last year of squeezing in just one more new technology before the year end, I want to discuss today Crowd Funding and how we can utilize it. Who knows, maybe this will give you your next great idea for 2012?


What is Crowd Funding?


Crowd Funding is a way to collectively get financial support for a project from “the crowd” rather than from individual investors. Each individual in the crowd gives a small portion of the required support, without attaining any ownership in the supported project. Instead, the project’s producer sells some incentives to the funders, such as products produced via the project. The funding crowd can be of any size, but the bigger it is, the higher social approval to the project.


With the nature of today’s online activities, it is of no surprise that several websites are now running Crowd Funding projects, mainly leader Kickstarter, but also sites such as IndieGoGo and RocketHub. Each offers quite similar set of functionalities, with some differences in their surcharge fees etc.


Do visual artists use Crowd Funding?


Oh yes, they are. I have found some fabulous ways on these sites for visual artists to develop their artwork and art marketing efforts. Lets have a look at few of these examples:


Example 1: Support an art collective for one year


Luck You Art Collective from New York, NY, a group of 17-19 years old artists, raised more than $16,000 back in December 2010. Their goal was to raise $15,000, and by the end of the pledging period, with 98 backers, the group received 107% support to their project. With the raised funds, the group planned to improve their studio, have 4 shows in 2011, offer workshops, and overall improve the resources available for the collective.


In return, the backers, who could choose from 12 different support tiers (ranging from $1 to $1000 support range), received official collective T-shirts, limited edition prints of varied sizes from the collective’s artists and original artwork on canvas. Each support tier has its reward level. See the project here.


Example 2: Art Calendar publication


Artist Patrick Gannon created amazing paper cut artwork for the 12 months, but needed couple of thousand dollars to produce it into a professional looking calendar. By November 22nd he had 77 backers, who supported his project and pre-ordered, via their pledges, copies of the calendar. Overall, Gannon received 131% support for this project. See the project here.


Example 3: A public art project


745 people wanted to see artist Molly Crabapple celebrating her 28th birthday locked in a hotel room for 5 days, covering the walls with paper and filling every inch of it with art. And, many of them received a cut-out piece of the artwork, signed by the artist. Her support level reached 573%, collecting $25,805 while having the goal of collecting merely $4,500! See the details of this project here.


And there are many more creative examples.


Is Crowd Funding for everyone?


Not everyone is successful in raising his or her goal funds. A successful bid, especially one that goes beyond its initial goal, indicates public acceptance of the idea and even shows the excitement other people see in your project. A failed bid, on the other hand, might mean there is not enough interest in your project, therefore it may not be worth pursuing. But, it could also mean that you didn’t put the right “sales” words behind your project to sell it properly. And, like with many other websites like that, the marketing efforts relies also on the project owners – by using their newsletters, email lists, social media etc.


I have found couple of blog posts by The Abundant Artists blog, describing in details how to utilize Crowd Funding, in two parts series (read Part 1 and Part 2), and they are great complimentary posts for this one, if you are interested to learn more.


What I would love to hear from you is whether you have ever used this method to fund one of your artistic projects, and if so, how was it?

If not, do you plan to do it in 2012?


With blessings for the new year to all,





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Related Posts:

Marketing Art Is a Do-it-yourself Job, Like it or Not

Marketing Art On The Internet, Part 1

Supply and Demand: You can't saturate a market that does not exist Part 2

Don't Show Your Art Out of Context

Your Business Does Not Have to Do Things The Way Things Are Now

Topics: advice for artists | art marketing | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Moshe Mikanovsky | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online | social networking | support local art 

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Sharon Weaver
I heard of this concept before and find it intriguing. It is definitely worth taking the time to research and write up a proposal. I have an idea for a series which I hope will spark interest for funding but I wonder if this will only pull donations from your own sources or if the site gets outside people to donate?

Wow, what a great concept! Seems a little 'out there' until you think about the general mood of the country right now: anti-corporation; anti-government; anti-big-anything. It kinda makes sense that the small, independent artist and/or entrepreneur might flourish a bit more in that type of environment. I definitely will follow-up on this and see what the possibilities are in 2012. Thanks for the enlightenment!

Carol Schmauder
I have never heard of this concept before, Moshe,and want to thank you for addressing it. I, like Sharon and Kerry, am going to investigate this further. Thank you for sharing.

Cory Huff
Thanks for the link to The Abundant Artist articles on Crowdfunding Moshe. Much appreciated!

I've seen some artists do some really amazing things with Crowdfunding. It's truly a brave new world!

Kathy Chin
Interesting idea Moshe, and one that I, like some others, may research. Thanks for the links to get us started!

Esther J. Williams
Fabulous ideas and it proves how humanity still has a heart. I will look into this further thanks to you!

Marsha Hamby Savage
This is very interesting! I went to the sites you mentioned and read what they were doing. Again very interesting. What I could not figure out was did they use the two companies you mentioned?

Somewhat the same is something I did without a company you mention... I wanted to take a painting trip overseas. This is the second time to do this. I sent a pretty and nicely composed letter to my patrons, long-time students, family and closest friends outlining an opportunity to choose a painting from the trip or done from the plein air or photos of the trip... for opting in ahead of time to fund the trip. About two months after returning, I had a party and they did choose their paintings from the trip and my studio work. I pre-sold 17 paintings .... somewhat like a "crowd funded" trip! It has been successful both times I have done this .. once in 2006 and this year. And, I have been on the trip, painted on location, photographed many wonderful scenes, and created paintings over and above those sold.

Sarah Marie Lacy
I did this last year to fund 6 months of art study in France - I took donations, sold subscriptions to a premium video blog that followed my travels and studies and sold a lot of art and prints, all under the greater mission of going to this private art atelier. I raised the first $5000 in 9 days (with about $1500 in costs), and eventually paid for $13,000 myself, and had to borrow the rest of the money. I plan on returning to France this year to keep studying and to stay for almost 18 months - I'm going to do exactly the same thing again, except better. It was a lot of fun, and people really get into it and cheer you on. I loved it.

Donna Robillard
Thank you, Moshe, for keeping us enlightened to new things that are going on.

Moshe Mikanovsky
Hi Sharon,

From what I have seen, Kickstarter already has a pretty nice community so also people outside of you immediate contacts can see your project and support it. But they do recommend for project owners to do their own marketing via regular channels (mail lists, social media etc) to get all your contacts aware of it.


Moshe Mikanovsky
You are welcome Cory. My pleasure in spreading the great content out there.


Moshe Mikanovsky
Great examples Marsha and Sarah!

Marsha, all these examples are from Kickstarter. The links direct you to that site.
I had a project in mind too, but Kickstarter is available only for people with US address and US bank accoun, which I don't have. I liked Kickstarter better because of the size of their community as well as because projects go ahead only if they are successful in raising at least 100 percent of their goals.


Dianne Panarelli Miller
Before you get into these sites, please read this... percent20kickstarter percent20a percent20scamandsource=webandcd=1andved=0CCMQFjAAandurl=http percent3A percent2F percent2F2009 percent2F10 percent2F13 percent2Fkickstarter-website-is-a-scam percent2Fandei=GQr-Tv39N6Li0QHQuODcAwandusg=AFQjCNHa9PWoOvB3-_a_71f7pea_X0cSuA

Barb Stachow
This is related, but not, what do you guys think of the way artist are starting to get togethre on selling their art more and more too. Just thinking out loud.

Sandro Giacomangeli
I had some luck with the kickstarter website.
But I kept my funding campaign very realistic, and affordable. I do not participate in Facebook much, which seems to be the main ingredient to crowd funding. I approached it with a keep it simple mind set, and mostly sold my original art prints for $25.oo a piece.

The hardest part is making the movie, and the funnest part is watching your campaign fund over a period of time.


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