This Black Friday and beyond, back a project for no reward, just because it speaks to you.
Today is Black Friday in the United States, and next week, online stores around the world will be flooded with shoppers for Cyber Monday. Here at Kickstarter, we’re marking the start of the holiday season with a campaign of our own, encouraging our community to support a creator’s project and process. This holiday season, you’re invited to back it because you believe in it.
There are a million and one reasons to back a project on Kickstarter, and getting a great reward is only one of them. Sometimes you just want to show a creator you believe in their work, without getting something in return. Last year alone, over 200,000 people backed projects on Kickstarter for no reward, pledging over $15 million to help creators bring their projects to life. That’s what we want to celebrate this season.
Going “rewardless” is rewarding
If you haven’t pledged to a project for no reward before, here are a few reasons why you might want to start:
Be a champion of culture. When you support a project on Kickstarter, you’re helping bold, inventive new work get made—work that may have an impact on culture for years to come. (Fleabag, anyone?)
Send out good vibes. Your support will make a creator’s day, without increasing their shipping budget.
Watch the creative process unfold. Creators use project updates to share a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing their project to life—and to celebrate with backers when their work is out in the world. When you back a project, you’re signed up to receive these updates via email.
Go minimal. Consider this an opportunity to KonMari your Kickstarter rewards.
Get a social shout-out. Use the hashtag #backeditbecause to let people know why you supported a particular project. We just might retweet you!
Your support makes independent creative work possible
You’ve probably seen our message that Kickstarter is not a store; it’s a way to help bring creative projects to life. When you back a project on Kickstarter, you're helping to bring new creative work into the world—work that might never exist without your support.
Many creators use Kickstarter because they want complete independence, free from creative interference, or because industry gatekeepers have overlooked their work. Your support lets creators make the work they want to make, exactly the way they want to make it.
Creators can now make and share a budget for their project directly from the Kickstarter project editor.
Back in August we introduced a simple Funding Calculator that gives creators more insight into project costs that are sometimes forgotten, like taxes and fees. Today we’re rolling out a much more robust tool to help with project planning. And we’ve given it a no-nonsense name: Project Budget.
Project Budget is essentially a budgeting spreadsheet that’s available from the Funding tab in the project editor. Creators can use it to map out the cost of their entire project, from prototyping and R&D to packaging and shipping. Once they’ve done this, they have the option of sharing a custom graph of their budget data in a new section of the project page.
On November 8, at 1 am, Icelandic pop icon Björk donned a spectacular mask and cocooned herself in an artificial jungle for a surprise DJ set on the smallest stage of Le Guess Who?, an art and music festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
This kind of multisensory experience is typical of the festival, which has grown into a premier destination for music and art discovery in Europe. Every year, the organizers pair their music lineup with exhibitions, film screenings, installations, and more to showcase performers’ creative interests beyond sound.
This urge to expand beyond one creative discipline was also the topic of conversation over the weekend at Kapitaal, a beloved DIY print shop and cultural hub, where Kickstarter and Le Guess Who? invited a series of multidisciplinary artists to transform the space into the official festival hangout and talk about working at the intersection of music and visual art: What skills apply to turning a visual idea into sound? How does music inform prose, poetry, and design? And how does one create collaborative spaces and lasting partnerships?
Here, Moor Mother, Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale, and the founders of Stroom and Príncipe Discos share insights from their creative journeys and advice for others who might be starting to stretch into a new creative medium.
Moor Mother’s approach to juggling—and triaging—creative ambitions
Camae Ayewa, the noise poet and activist who goes by Moor Mother, is a true
Renaissance woman: She’s just as comfortable collaborating with experimental electronic artists, free jazz ensembles, or the London Contemporary Orchestra as she is staging plays, publishing poetry zines, or scoring an installation for the Guggenheim. There seems to be no limit to Moor Mother’s curiosity and improvisational talents.
True to form, Ayewa juggled creating her latest album, Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes, with publishing a book of poetry and writing, directing, and performing in an avant-garde jazz musical called Circuit City. “It was hard, and I’m a crybaby anyways,” she says.
In order to even finish all three projects, she first had to embrace a certain pragmatism about stepping out of her comfort zone. “At first you have these really large ideas, and then you have to sculpt it down to reality. Like, how much money do you have? What can you actually do, who can you really involve? I continued to pull pieces away from this. An album, on the other hand, is [more] cut and dried. But things like a theater piece you can constantly morph and shape. Of course, working on it put me in an uncomfortable situation: I’ve never done this before, so it’s very uncomfortable to throw yourself in the unknown. But I knew I would grow and see things from a new perspective.”
Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale questions traditional art-world routes—and paves his own
Brian Chippendale is the drummer and vocalist in the iconic (and violently loud) duo Lightning Bolt—a band he started while at the Rhode Island School of Design in the ’90s. Chippendale never graduated from RISD, and he threw a bag of roadkill from the roof of the main building for his last art performance there. “I think I was going for the controversial exit,” he says.
He hasn’t been afraid to insult or ignore art-world norms throughout his career. Instead of waiting to be granted spots in musical lineups or gallery shows, Chippendale and fellow artist Mat Brinkman created their own space, Fort Thunder, which served as a concert venue, rehearsal space, and permanent place of residence for many locals between 1995 and 2001.
“When we started, galleries and museums were shitty things we didn't want to deal with,” says Chippendale, “so turning a space into my own used to be even too much of a priority for me. Fort Thunder itself was the art form. A couple evictions later, it became harder to invest in these rental spaces. So over the years I got a little more conservative, like, ‘Why don't I paint on a canvas and hang it up instead of painting directly on the wall and saw it out of the cement?’”
He also questions the conventional wisdom that artists need to move to New York and schmooze their way to the top. He still resides in Providence, Rhode Island, now with his wife, fellow artist and RISD alumna Jungil Hong, and young son, and says being removed from the art scene’s epicenter grants him the space he needs to work in peace—and drum as loud as he wants.
"It's a great small city,” he says. “There have always been affordable, large spaces. I have an amazing studio that is fairly cheap. I can play music 24 hours a day there. I thought for a long time that I could live in Providence and work all the time and then [become] this famous art star in New York, like it's a little more challenging [to make it as an artist there]. But I think I could be a shittier artist and live in New York—and if you're charismatic enough you can go off.”
Stroom art director Nana Esi’s human storytelling gives forgotten albums fresh art
Stroom, from Ostend, Belgium, is much more than a reissue label. The brainchild of label founder and A&R rep Ziggy Devriendt, aka Nosedrip, it focuses on unearthing obscure music, old and new, and telling those albums’ stories. In the process, Stroom is bridging the gap between local music histories and the future it’s actively helping to shape.
Nosedrip joined us at Kapitaal to play a set of forthcoming releases and discuss how art director Nana Esi has made archival music a real strength for the label by telling forgotten creators’ stories with social and artistic tact. "She takes a lot of time to listen to the music and talk to the creators in advance,” Devriendt says. “She always gets elements for her designs that way. It would be way too obvious to just look at the visual identity the act already had when they first came out. Nana never does that. I think finding new angles is one of the biggest strengths of what we're doing."
A perfect example of this close and personal approach to collaboration is the cover art for Spring Break by Belgian band Pablo’s Eye. The sleeve shows overlapping scans of an unidentified biracial couple.
"These are Nana’s parents on the cover,” Devriendt says. “Her father had just passed away while we were finishing this project, so she was going through her parents’ old photos and scanned a lot of old pictures. It just felt right to use it. Their relationship also reflects the history of Pablo’s Eye’s core members, and the band was very happy with it. We’ve actually become close friends. The best projects I did could be measured by the social appreciation you get from the people whose music you are putting out."
Príncipe Discos creates an artistic movement based on friendships
While the sounds of Príncipe cohorts like Nidia, Marfox, Niggafox, Firmeza, and many more explore the fringes of kuduro, techno, and all types of bass-heavy, unorthodox rhythms, the label’s visual language tackles themes of identity and historical violence in almost playful ways.
During their three-day stint at Kapitaal, Nelson Gomes and Márcio Matos—the creative director and designer behind the record label’s artworks—turned the print shop into a dynamic exhibition and performance space that changed daily.
For them, the visual agenda of a record label can only succeed if it is a direct aesthetic reflection of its roster. “Everything we have done is created for our artists,” said Gomes, “so the whole exhibition all of a sudden made sense when Nidia, Marfox, and Firmeza played here. All you see on the walls is an extension of them.”
For Márcio Matos, a trained painter who also runs the Flur record store in Lisbon, it took a while to accept that his politically charged paintings had to be intrinsically interwoven with his artworks for the label.
“In the beginning I saw my visuals for the label as a very specific design project, so I separated my own work and the visual identity of Príncipe. Since then it’s been seven years, and at some point it upset me to keep up this divide. So I started to no longer give a fuck, and I let the iconography I use in my own works bleed into the label as well. I wouldn’t use the Príncipe logo face in my paintings, but you can you can absolutely see it’s the same artist.”
Aside from immediately recognizable imagery, the main reason why Príncipe has always felt like a movement rather than a label lies in the team’s crew mentality. It mirrors what Stroom says about measuring a release’s success by the value of the social interaction with your artist: A close bond is essential for venturing into new creative territories.
“We are all friends on this project: Nelson, André, Ze, and me. But also, we’re close friends with all of the artists we sign,” says Matos. “The Lisbon scene consists of a lot of different people with very different opinions. But our own ‘scene,’ if you will, happens one night per month at [the club] Music Box. There you will see what Príncipe is all about. You only get the real feel for it through the music and the visuals in combination with the DJs. They are who we do all of this for.”
This year, DOC NYC—New York’s documentary film festival—celebrates its 10th anniversary. The festival, which includes more than 300 films, shows, and events, takes place at three Manhattan theaters, with dozens of special guests attending in person.
We’re proud to celebrate the accomplishments of the Kickstarter Film community, especially the 14 Kickstarter-funded works (14! Count ‘em!) that will be screened at the festival, which takes place November 6–15.
When we made the decision to reincorporate Kickstarter as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2015, we made limiting our environmental impact a part of our charter. Since then we’ve been working to live up to that commitment. Our office has switched to compostable kitchenware and energy-efficient lighting. And we’ve stepped up our support of creators who want to be sustainable in their creative work — launching our Environmental Resources Center, adding environmental commitments to project pages, and spotlighting creative projects made from recycled materials.
Today we’re taking another important step in our commitment to measure, reduce and offset our environmental impact. We’re joining Climate Neutral.
We’ve been listening to creator feedback on ways to make it easier to plan, build, and launch projects. Over the past few months, we’ve rolled out some changes to the project editor and dashboard that we hope will do just that. Here’s what’s new:
I am very pleased to announce that the author and entrepreneur Casey Gerald has been appointed to Kickstarter PBC’s board of directors.
Casey is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir and coming-of-age story that, as Casey puts it, “stands the American dream on its head.” It was named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR and The New York Times. Casey is a two-time TED speaker and was named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business.” He also recently wrote “The Black Art of Escape” for New York magazine, reflecting on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in Virginia.
The many questions and concerns we’ve heard from you lately are a testament to how much you care about Kickstarter, the people who work here, and the importance of creative work in the world. In response, I felt it was best to talk directly about recent events and issues.
It’s important for you to know, and to hear straight from me, that we haven’t fired anyone for union organizing. We respect our staff’s right to decide for themselves if they want a union at Kickstarter, and we are giving them the space they need to make that decision.