Every five seconds someone backs a Kickstarter project. More than 12.7 million people around the world have taken a chance on new creative ideas here, pushing 123,587 of them one step closer to reality. All this just added up to an exciting milestone — as of last night, $3 billion has been pledged to independent creators on Kickstarter. It’s a big figure, but stepping back, what it represents is much bigger.
By design, Kickstarter offers creators the freedom to take risks and realize their creative vision. And it offers backers the chance to be part of a community that’s passionate about bringing new creative ideas to life. Together they’re pushing creative culture in new and ambitious directions. As we reflect on how artists, creators, and innovators have raised billions of dollars in support of creative ideas at the earliest stages of development, here are three trend lines that stand out and trace those shifts.
Music is core to Kickstarter’s DNA. In fact, it’s how we got our start. In late 2001, Kickstarter Creator and Chairman, Perry Chen, was living in New Orleans when he had an idea to bring a pair of DJs down for show during Jazz Fest. He found a great venue and reached out to their management, but since he didn’t have the required funds the show never happened. That led him to imagine a way for audiences to pledge support for creative projects at their earliest stages. Eight years later Kickstarter launched as way to do just that.
Today, we’re celebrating a milestone that reminds us of our musical roots — 25,000 successfully funded music projects. The 22,702 independent creators behind those 25,000 projects have recorded albums, funded tours, founded labels, premiered documentaries about iconic musicians, created new instruments, and beyond. Two million people from around the world have supported those artists to the tune of $175 million.
You probably know that at Kickstarter we love to celebrate great creators and great projects. But you may not know that we also put a lot of effort into finding great creators and helping them launch those projects.
That’s the main role of our Design & Technology outreach team, which I lead. And as part of our endless quest for projects, we've decided to try something new. Inspired in part by Y Combinator’s requests for startups, we're going public with a list of the things we’d love to see more of on Kickstarter. We hope this inspires creators who are working in these areas to get in touch. If your project fits the bill, we can help make it shine and spotlight it for our community of 13 million backers.
Here are the three main areas our team members are focusing on this year:
Today, we’re pleased to announce an ongoing collaboration with the New Museum in New York City, showcasing an array of inventive projects that got started on Kickstarter in their store. As a leading institution dedicated to boundary-pushing art and ideas, the New Museum is the perfect place to share this collection, which features adventurous takes on everyday objects, creative explorations of technology, and designs that are simultaneously playful and profound.
Here’s what you’ll find in the collection:
IAmElemental Frustrated by the lack of positive, empowering superhero action figures for young girls, Julie Kerwin set out to create her own. IAmElemental’s vibrantly hued heroines represent real-life superpowers like bravery, persistence, and creativity that kids can discover in themselves — no radioactive spider bites necessary.
NYCTA and NASA Standards Manuals
Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth discovered a worn copy of the New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual in the basement of their office at the renowned design firm Pentagram. Struck by the historical significance and aesthetic beauty of this meticulous guide to Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda’s 1970 reworking of the New York Subway system’s signage, Reed and Smyth set out to create a faithful reissue. They figured it would appeal to a handful of their fellow design nerds. Instead, the project received an overwhelming response — prompting them to create a series of further standards manual reissues, including the guide to NASA’s famous 1974 “worm” logo rebrand.
L3D Cube Looking Glass Factory adds a new dimension to pixel art and digital animation with this volumetric LED cube, which allows artists and programmers to sculpt with light and create interactive visualizations. A user-friendly interface and an online community make it easy to create and share content for the cube, while a built-in microphone allows for colorful visualizations of sound and music. Because it’s built on the open-source Arduino platform, folks with a knack for hacking can get even deeper into customizing the display and integrating it into larger projects.
Artist Cat Pins For her latest project, UK-based designer Nia Gould pondered a deep question: what if the world’s most famous artists were cats? She created a series of enamel pin portraits of these visionary felines in the visual styles of their namesakes. From Pablo Picatso and Frida Catlo to Henri Catisse and Roy Kittenstein, all the greats are here — announce your love of modern art, cats, and puns in one charming accessory.
Personal Body Unit Index Ever need to measure something when there isn’t a ruler handy? Designers Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy set out to address this problem by helping you discover the versatile tool you always carry with you: your body. Inspired by a clever trick Che-Wei’s mom does with her fingers to measure fabric, they created a poster that lets you record the various spans and dimensions across your body for easy reference.
Analog Voltmeter Clock Self-described “awkward engineer” Sam Feller offers another creative take on measurement. Inspired by the stripped-down aesthetic of vintage industrial equipment, this clock uses the indicator needles of analog voltmeters to tell time. Feller’s affection for the less-than-perfect performance of these pre-digital machines shines through in details like the “twitchy needle" display mode, which mimics the look of a noisy electrical signal and reminds us that a little flexibility in our experience of time is a feature, not a bug.
Little Sun Renowned artist Olafur Eliasson has long used light to alter viewers’ perceptions in his immersive installations. His Little Sun project channels this interest into devices that collect and store the sun’s light to charge personal lamps and battery packs. Aside from the playful poetics of saving a bit of daylight to carry with you for later, the project aims to have social and environmental impact, using the proceeds to bring clean, sustainable power solutions to people living in areas without access to energy around the world.
C.H.I.P. Next Thing Co.'s pint-sized development board can do standard computer things like crunch numbers in spreadsheets or surf the web — but you’d probably rather use it to build robots or make your own wireless speaker. The Pocket C.H.I.P. case, pictured above, adds a keyboard and display, allowing you to program — or just play video games — on the go.
Strawbees Strawbees started with a simple discovery: inventor Erik Thorstensson realized that the plastic waste from IKEA’s lampshade production could be reused as connectors for building with straws and cardboard. Seeing the potential in these inexpensive, sturdy materials to create huge structures (and huge fun), he developed the idea into a colorful prototyping toy for makers of all ages. From moving catapults and ferris wheels to giant, ceiling-scraping tetrahedral pyramids and geodesic domes, the growing Strawbees community continues to find remarkable ways to use the humble drinking straw.
Braddock Tiles Together with hundreds of backers, artist Caledonia Curry, a.k.a. Swoon, founded a ceramics workshop in the basement of an abandoned church in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. The creative space now employs young adults from the community and teaches them to make colorful roofing tiles, which are being used to make critical repairs to the church's roof — transforming the building into a communal work of art.
A window display celebrating the Kickstarter collaboration — and the collaborations between creators and backers that made these projects possible in the first place — will be up at the New Museum Store through May 15. Stop by the store to check out the collection in person, or head over to their website to shop online.
Last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, documentary filmmaker Kahane Cooperman joined Kickstarter’s Film team on a panel to talk about how she built a community and rallied support for her project. This year, that project — the moving documentary short Joe’s Violin, brought to life with the help of 272 backers — was nominated for an Oscar.
We’re proud to once again celebrate the accomplishments of the Kickstarter Film community at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, taking place April 19–30 in New York City. This year, fifteen Kickstarter-funded works will debut at the fest, marking the seventh consecutive year that Kickstarter-funded films have premiered at Tribeca.
We at Kickstarter love sharing what we know about how Kickstarter works, but there are only so many of us, and we can't be everywhere. So we've recruited some great creators to help us, and we're calling them Kickstarter Thought Leaders.
Kickstarter Thought Leaders are an international group of creators from the Kickstarter community who are celebrated as leaders in their fields, and for their creative successes and community influence. Among them, they’ve won numerous awards, had work collected by major institutions, published several books, and teach at a handful of prestigious universities. To date, they’ve raised $3,010,897 from 35,437 backers across their 26 combined Kickstarter projects.
We’ve selected them for their wisdom, experience, and standout contributions to creative culture at large.
We were excited when Druid City Games’ second Kickstarter project, Grimm Forest, launched a few weeks ago. We were even more excited when it funded in just under three hours, and we saw backers commending the page for its concise and well-planned layout, beautiful artwork, and great use of GIFs. We spoke to James Hudson, one of the game’s creators, about his team’s strategy for generating so much buzz around the project from day one.
At Kickstarter, we’re always looking for new ways to support creative projects. Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of Guest Pledging. Pledging to a project used to mean that new users had to register for a Kickstarter account, which may have been a hurdle for some new backers. With the launch of Guest Pledging, people who choose not to create an account now have the option to pledge as a Guest, giving creators the opportunity to reach a whole new audience of supporters.
One of the best things about supporting creators on Kickstarter is getting a behind-the-scenes look at the project as it takes shape, and Guest backers get to follow along like anyone else. In addition, they’ll receive creator messages, project updates, and reward surveys like all backers.