We love it when people use Kickstarter to make creative tools — devices, kits, and platforms that open up new possibilities for makers, artists, and anyone looking to bring their ideas to life. So for this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, we invited a few of our favorite creators to showcase their creativity-enabling inventions alongside some of the remarkable things people have made with them.
These projects cover a wide range of creative pursuits, from drawing on paper to building circuits (or doing both simultaneously), beginner-friendly weekend projects to powerful tools for prototyping. With more than 100 Kickstarter-funded projects on display across Maker Faire, we’re sure you’ll find something that sparks an idea for your next project. Maybe you’ll even feel inspired to share that project on Kickstarter!
Thousands of artists and arts organizations have used Kickstarter to connect with a global community and create some incredible projects, from major museum exhibitions to bold public art installations and collectible limited editions. Today we're pleased to announce that there have been over 10,000 successfully funded projects in the Art category. Here are a few numbers behind that milestone:
As part of Kickstarter's mission to help bring creative projects to life, we're always looking for ways to help artists and creators find the support and resources they need to make their ideas a reality. Today we're happy to announce a new pilot program that aims to do just that — the Kickstarter Creators-in-Residence program.
Kickstarter launched eight years ago today — April 28, 2009. Each birthday I’m reminded of our winding path to existence.
Roughly eight years before Kickstarter’s launch — 16 years ago — our founder Perry Chen first had the idea. For eight long years, Perry worked at bringing this idea to life. Along the way he met co-founders in Charles Adler and me. Through years of determination and effort, Kickstarter was born.
Our 2009 launch is now the midpoint in our history. Since, nearly 125,000 creative projects have been successfully funded and more than $3 billion has been pledged to independent artists and creators. The $3 billionth dollar was pledged just this week! Kickstarter continues to astound us.
Here are some things we were proud to bring to life during the past year in service to the community of creators who call Kickstarter home.
The Creative Independent
Two years ago we reincorporated Kickstarter as a Public Benefit Corporation. In our Charter, we committed to create resources that help people bring their creative projects to life, and that connect people around the creative process. Last year we created The Creative Independent to do that.
The Creative Independent is a resource of emotional and strategic advice for artists from other artists. Each day it publishes a new interview or essay exploring a different area of the creative process. Our goal is to only publish information that could be useful to others for their creative practice, or as inspiration for more creative thinking. The Creative Independent has no advertising. It is intended as a resource.
We’re immensely proud to use our voice to share generous insights from artists about the craft of creating. Some great places to start include Henry Rollins’ inspirational push-up regiment, Anohni’s challenging thoughts on commercialization, Cynthia Daignault on not commodifying your art, and Nikki Giovanni on trusting your own voice.
Kickstarter Live Creators are sharing the creative process and early stage ideas in a new way with Kickstarter Live, launched last year. Through Live, backers are also getting to know the creators they’re supporting personally. It has been a positive space for community building and knowledge sharing.
Nearly half a million people have tuned in to watch creators share intimate musical performances, live product demos, gameplay tutorials, dance rehearsals, and more. The success rate for creators who engage with their communities on Live is more than twice the site-wide average (75% successful). Check out upcoming streams here.
New Communities Backers come from more than 220 countries and territories. Hello to all of you, around the world!
For creators, Kickstarter is available in twenty countries. Last year we opened up in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Mexico. More than 1,000 creators have shared new creative projects from those regions. Welcome!
We also opened our first international office in Vancouver, Canada, this year. We’re hiring, if you or someone you know is in Vancouver and would love to work at Kickstarter.
Our community continues to impress with their accomplishments. Here’s a small sampling of what they achieved in the past year:
The Design Museum in London unveiled a new exhibition celebrating Kickstarter design projects;
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.