To celebrate hitting $1 billion in pledges on Kickstarter, we’re putting the spotlight on the people who made that happen. We’ll be posting excerpts from chats with some influential backers, talking about projects they love and the joys of supporting someone's idea.
Coraline author Neil Gaiman is no stranger to Kickstarter. He first backed a project in 2010, and has even run a project with his wife, Amanda Palmer. Since then he's been supporting and spreading love for hundreds of projects. We didn’t have to ask Neil too many questions — he just kept on talking about Kickstarter!
On discovering Kickstarter
I think I found out about Kickstarter through Twitter. The magic of being on Twitter and the magic of being available is that, as soon as anybody wants anything, they just come to you. And if you're me you click on the link, because you're interested. So that is really where it all started for me, somebody on Twitter saying can you mention our Kickstarter. And very, very quickly I would find myself moving on to stage two, which is deciding to support things. So I very rapidly wound up getting books and CDs and all sorts of strange things that I hadn't expected, beautiful posters, you know, all sorts of magical things.
On odd rewards
The one that I'm looking forward to most is, I backed the Gemini and Scorpio Loft Arts Space in Brooklyn, and my reward on that, which I think I'm going to be collecting in March, is: "Miss Scorpio will be your personal guide to a unique and exciting evening in the NYC cultural underground. An adventure for up to two people, tailored to your interests." I've got one message from them so far saying that three people have been arrested scouting locations for my adventure, and asking "Do you mind breaking the law very much? How do you feel about trespassing?" So this has got to be interesting.
Some of the nicest things are those places where you are making people happy and weird things are happening. I backed the New York Shakespeare Exchange Sonnet Project, and my reward level, picked relatively randomly, was the sonnet-gram. One of their actors would appear and recite a Shakespearean sonnet to the person of your choice. So I sent them to Amanda, and her favorite Shakesperean sonnet was recited to her. And I think that one -- just the sort of glorious things you don't expect.
The biggest thing for me is actually feeling that you're part of something. When it works -- it's albums that you would've bought anyway, and look here's Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby and their new album, and I've bought their albums anyway, and here they are on Kickstarter. And I get to pledge my $15 for a CD and plug it, and I've got my CD and I feel so much more emotionally invested, so much more a part of it.
There's things that you do where somebody made something and you bought it and that's nice. But here there's a sort of weird and lovely magic of, I'm part of this, I helped create this, this thing exists because of me, isn't this fun!
Which is the thing that genuinely baffles me when people start saying, well, look at these people who are backing this movie, but they don't get a slice of the movie's profits. And you end up going, no no, they actually get something cooler from that — they get the movie! They get to go and see this movie that they wanted to see, that they wouldn't have otherwise got to see because it wouldn't have got made.
Yes, there are people out there doing things for the profits. But there's an awful lot of people who are just doing things because… you know, it's astounding the number of musicians who are actually making their albums because they want their albums to exist. They're not doing it to buy another house.
I consider myself a benevolent patron of the arts. I do not consider myself a merchant banker or some kind of an investor or anything like that. I'm just — it's like, yeah, let's see if we can make something happen. Occasionally they're goofy and occasionally they're weird, and every now and then I'll end up with a lump of technology that I wasn't expecting. Or underpants. Or whatever. And it's like, OK, that was fun, that was interesting, yes, good, somebody Kickstarted an underpants factory. Fantastic.