Projects We Loved: 15 of Our Favorite Kickstarter-Funded Projects from 2019

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Lucinda Rogers in the process of creating New York Drawings
Lucinda Rogers in the process of creating New York Drawings

When Kickstarter turned 10 this April, we took a look back at the decade of impact Kickstarter projects have had on our world. Now, as our birthday year comes to a close and we prepare to enter a new decade (!), we asked a few of our teammates to share the projects that made an impact on them this past year.

It’s an eclectic collection, spanning public artworks and climate change initiatives, photo books about Detroit techno and hard-hitting journalism about political malfeasance. In 2019, over 6 million people pledged more than $610 million to help bring these—and some 19,000 other—projects to life, and they contributed to some incredible milestones: $1 billion pledged to both Games and Design, $100 million pledged to Comics, and 100 million pesos pledged to projects from Mexico. We can’t wait to see what our community will create and support in the new year (including all of your Make 100 projects in January).

Read on for some of our team’s favorite projects from 2019.

American Backyard by Elliot Ross, Genevieve Allison, and Gnomic Book 

Selected by Daniel Sharp, Arts Outreach Lead

American Backyard documents the entire length of the U.S.–Mexico border in stories and photographs. It’s a way for readers to see who actually lives on the border and learn how the sitting president's hostility toward our neighbors has affected their lives and communities.”

The Last Black Man in San Francisco by Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails 

Selected by Elise McCave, Director of Narrative Film 

“I loved The Last Black Man in San Francisco [which funded in 2015 but premiered in theaters this year]. Sitting down to see the premiere at Sundance, there was something palpable in the air, an excitement that a beloved project that had grown out of a friendship and a city was at last coming into being. And the film felt as magical as the setup!” 

Knock Down the House by Rachel Lears 

Selected by Liz Cook Mowe, Director of Documentary Film 

“Rachel Lears started filming four extraordinary women as they ran for U.S. Congress during the 2018 election—including the then-relatively unknown candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What makes the documentary Knock Down the House [which funded in 2018 but premiered on Netflix this year] so electric is that behind-the-scenes intimacy, allowing us to watch a grassroots campaign catch fire and sweep through the nation.” 

Tina Locurto for York Dispatch
Tina Locurto for York Dispatch

Guinness World Record: Largest Cigar Box Ensemble by John Bernyk 

 Selected by Kate Bernyk, Director of Communications

“Yes, I’m a little biased because this is my dad, but who wouldn’t be a proud daughter when their father gets into the Guinness Book of World Records for putting together the largest cigar-box guitar ensemble? He built over 30 handmade cigar-box guitars to help make this record-setting event happen, complete with a drone video of the big day.” 

Materia Prima by Uusi 

Selected by Meredith Graves, Director of Music 

“Peter Dunham and Linnea Gits, the daring duo behind Uusi design studio, have spent years as exemplary Kickstarter tarot creators. This deck is their millionth success, but their first tarot project post-acquisition of their prior work by the MIT Libraries.”

New Queer Photography by Verlag Kettler 

Selected by Lauren Renner, Associate Art Director, Photo & Video 

“As a genre, queer photography is still relatively new, and it's so important that it's fostered. A photograph is both a record and a mirror—it documents where we've come from and who we are. It gives us a chance to see ourselves and, in some cases, have control over our image. A book like this is so much more than a collection of images—it's ownership. A true claiming of space.” 

New York Drawings by Lucinda Rogers 

Selected by Gemma Seltzer, Senior UK Arts & Culture Outreach Lead 

“I absolutely loved Lucinda Rogers’s New York Drawings, a book of her pieces drawn directly from life. A city is ever-evolving, ever-changing, and the constant movement is what makes it so enticing. These drawings gracefully capture this fluidity and the magic of New York.” 

Sludge by David Moore, Donny Shaw, and Alex Kotch 

Selected by Oriana Leckert, Senior Journalism Outreach Lead 

Sludge is a three-person newsroom dedicated to the critical work of investigating money in politics. They ran a campaign to fund reporting on fossil fuel lobbyists trying to kill the Green New Deal in the U.S., and the work they went on to do helped raise the young newsroom’s profile. Recently, they partnered with The Guardian to produce an explosive investigation into the personal finances of U.S. senators, revealing more than 50 senators’ investments in the firms they’re supposed to be regulating.” 

Climate Neutral Certified by Climate Neutral 

Selected by Tom Chuaypradit, Experimentation Manager

“The nonprofit Climate Neutral put together an official symbol that companies and entities can use to prove they are committed to slowing down the effects of climate change at a global scale. I want my kids to live in a future world that is not negatively affected by the climate crisis, especially if it can be prevented in our generation.”

Visigoths vs. Mall Goths by Lucian Kahn

Selected by Trin Garritano, Games Digital Outreach Lead

“I love this project for its inherent comedic genius, ’90s nostalgia, and because of how queer it is.”

Big French Dance by Ron Stanford 

Selected by Annelise Broussard, Accountant

“I'm from Louisiana and have a deep appreciation for Cajun and zydeco music. After backing the project I began communicating with the creator, Ron Stanford, and found out he had visited a dance hall in the town where my dad grew up! Ron's book documents the Cajun music and dance scene beautifully; my dad was able to bring the book to his hometown and reminisce with some folks about those dancin’ days.”

House of Waris Botanicals by Waris Ahluwalia 

Selected by Rebecca Hiscott, Senior Editor 

“Waris Ahluwalia spent five years developing and perfecting his first herbal tea blend. I had the pleasure of speaking to him about the project earlier this year, and it was clear how passionate he was—and how intent he was on getting everything just right. I just received my tin of turmeric honeybush tea, and I can safely say, mission accomplished. It’s a delicious, warming, soothing blend, perfect for cold, rainy mornings.” 

Pick It Up! Ska in the ʼ90s by Popmotion Pictures 

Selected by Wolf Owczarek, Operations Manager 

“One of the unforeseen pleasures of seeing this documentary about ʼ90s ska [which funded in 2018 but was released in 2019] come to life was this shot (featured above) of the garage to which I have sent so much concealed cash: Asian Man Records, still run out of Mike Park’s parents’ house.” 

Auction Block Memorial by Steve Locke 

Selected by Patton Hindle, Senior Director of Arts 

“Steve Locke's Auction Block Memorial took an unexpected route due to circumstances outside of the artist's hands. I was grateful to Steve for his transparency with his audience and his commitment to realizing this project in another location. It's also a testament to his community of backers, who didn't jump ship—in fact, more joined in. It’s proof that people are invested in Steve's idea and practice, not necessarily the exact physical outcome or location.”

They Call Me Grandma Techno by Patricia Lay-Dorsey, The Detroit Techno Foundation, 1xRUN, and Paxahau 

Selected by Victoria Blumenfeld, Trust & Safety Analyst

“How can you not smile at this photo book by this rad, grooving grandma? Helping a project come to life that’s about a person doing what makes them come to life… I'm all for that. Rock on, Grandma Techno!”

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