Guest Post: Lessons from Artist Scott Teplin

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My name is Scott Teplin and I’m an artist living and working in New York City. Since my fourth Kickstarter campaign is now underway, I thought it might be helpful if I shared share a few lessons I’ve learned and applied to my current campaign, BIG SCHOOL

BIG SCHOOL is a 6-foot-wide maniacally detailed, hand-made watercolor drawing that imagines the architecture of a screwball school. Today I'm writing about how to better prepare for your project before you go live. Here are few things to think about months before you build your campaign.

Look at other projects. 

Take an hour a week, months before you launch your campaign to just browse other Kickstarter campaigns: live, successful, unsuccessful. Since you already have your project in mind - looking at other people’s campaigns (especially campaigns NOT in the least bit related to yours) will give you ideas on how to better build your own campaign.

Get ready to share your process. 

Document your process with photos and video from the beginning. You’ll find these assets to be invaluable once you start to build your campaign page. My 6 foot-wide drawings take a full year to make so I set up a system in my studio to make it easy for me to take progress shots every day. I shared images on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag: #BigSchoolTeplin. I also made a series of videos that helped potential backers understand my creative process.


Research your reward ideas. 

Research reward ideas in a smart way and always keep shipping in mind. It seemed like a no-brainer for me to make t-shirts for one of my previous campaigns. But it turned out to be a failure. The main pledge item in my campaigns is a print of my giant drawing. Shipping a t-shirt and the drawing required 2 different packages. That costs a ton of extra time and money. This time around I made sure that most of my rewards can ship in the same tube I mail the prints in (cloisonne pins, coloring books, other prints). Not to mention all the different size and variations t-shirts require.

Ask yourself: Are people going to actually want what you’re offering? Seems obvious but I make art that encompasses several different subjects. While a few people might be into gross anatomical stuff, I think it’s a better use of my resources to choose a body of my work that more people will respond to.

Learn how to use Kickstarter. 

You need to be intimately familiar with how Kickstarter works way before you get close to your launch date. I find that I create my best campaigns when I begin working on my “Story” area directly within Kickstarter and just continue saving and updating it months before I intend to launch. Each day I can then add or subtract items long before it’s ready giving every aspect adequate thought. I love that I can preview my campaign-in-progress on my phone when I’m waiting in line somewhere, or just bored and I don’t have my computer with me. Looking at my project page from a variety of different screens in different life scenarios helps me to see it in very broad terms, just it as others will.

Take quality images.

Take high-quality progress photos of your work from sketch to the final stages. Crappy phone photos aren't good enough. There are things you can do with these assets when it comes time to build your campaign you hadn’t even thought of while you were making the artwork. 

Use video and GIFS.

It's all about video and animated gifs. Learn how to make moving files part of your process.



After you hit the launch button.

Once your campaign is live and you've sent emails, told everyone you know on social media and alerted the press, sometimes there is an eerie silence. You'll hear your campaign clock ticking louder each minute. During this silence, it may be tempting to try marketing services that claim to help promote your campaign. Don't give in. I'm not convinced any of them are actually helpful. I would advise doing your own research before paying anyone to help you promote your campaign. 

If you'd like to chat with Scott, send him a message on Twitter @steplin. And if you need more pointers on starting your project, follow @KickstarterTips.

Further Reading

In our creator forum space, Scott also shared: