The Kickstarter Blog

24 Hours

  1. Q&A: Fred Armisen of Portlandia

    In two seasons, Portlandia has become the go-to for jokes about the artistic merits of taxidermy, feminist bookstores, and the joys of pickling. Starring Fred Armisen of Saturday Night Live and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, the show is a deservedly and unexpectedly broad cultural hit.

    So imagine our surprise last fall when the producers of Portlandia reached out to say that Kickstarter would be the subject of a skit in the upcoming season. We were happy they even knew what Kickstarter was! You can see some of the skit above, or watch the full thing this Friday (2/10) at 10pm on IFC.

    Earlier this week we spoke with Fred Armisen to find out how Kickstarter became the subject of a skit, what projects the feminist bookstore Women & Women First might launch, and more.

    Kickstarter: Do you remember when you first came across Kickstarter?

    Fred: I was asked to contribute to a Mekons documentary. That was how I first got connected. A few dozen people had written asking me to contribute to their projects, but that was my first foray into it.

    Kickstarter: So how does Kickstarter end up on Portlandia?

    Fred: Well it's just something that we've all — me, John (our director), and Carrie — gotten emails about stuff that's been on there. It was just an idea: let's do something with Kickstarter. It was on our radar.

    Kickstarter: I looked up some stats on Portland and Kickstarter. Portland is a top ten city in terms of number of projects. There's been one project for every thousand people who live in Portland — possibly the highest ratio of any city. And Portland mayor Sam Adams has a special curated page on Kickstarter where he shares projects that he likes from Portland. Do any of these things surprise you?

    Fred: No, not at all. I'm more curious about what the other cities are!

    Kickstarter: Do you feel like Kickstarter is specifically Portland somehow?

    Fred: No, it feels really national. The Mekons was Chicago. I got another from Chicago. It's very national. As far as when John and Carrie and I were talking, I don't remember it being very Portland-specific. It was much more broad than that. And John's got a ton of filmmaker friends who were trying to get projects started. He's from LA.

    Kickstarter: How did Portlandia come together? Was it a labor of love that you and Carrie came up with that found its way to IFC?

    Fred: Yeah that's probably the best description of it. When we first started it we didn't do it for anybody but ourselves. We just made these videos and had someone to edit it. We had no marketing plan. We had nothing. We just wanted to do it. We just kept making them until eventually we were like, "I guess we could pitch it as a TV show." But even though we're fairly ambitious people we certainly didn't think this is our grand plan for getting a TV show. It just built itself up and gained momentum. We feel pretty lucky that it just started off with us just spending our time making something.

    Kickstarter: Last question: what projects would the Women & Women First bookstore launch on Kickstarter?

    Fred: Women & Women First would be so reliant on Kickstarter that every day they would have a different project. So instead of consolidating and making one thing for the store, it would be like, "Today we're going to start a Kickstarter project for our printer." "Today we're going to start a Kickstarter project for our bookshelves which need reorganizing." "Today we're gonna have a Kickstarter project for our front window." Everyday would be a new one.

    Kickstarter: Haha, excellent. Thanks for your time. It's nice to talk to you, and of course we're all big fans.

    Fred: Likewise and congratulations!

  2. Projects in the News

    Every week, we round up some of the stories about projects that made the press. We're happy to see them out there in the real world, and excited to share their progress with you! Read on. 

    Matthew Kronsberg of Gourmet featured several great food projects, from Sweet & Stout to Homesweet Homegrown, reporting: "The food category is a small but vibrant piece of the Kickstarter project mix; 241 food and beverage-related projects brought in just over $2.8 million from 30,682 backers in 2011. The spread of funding requests reflects the general culinary zeitgeist — keyword searches turn up 118 beer projects, 80 tagged 'vegan,' and 74 tagged 'foodtruck.' And then, of course, there is the great common denominator, cupcakes, with 50 listings, including 8 vegan cupcake projects, 6 cupcake trucks, and 1 beer cupcake."

    Photographer Mark Seliger showing his iconic portrait of Kurt Cobain.
    Photographer Mark Seliger showing his iconic portrait of Kurt Cobain.

    Tiffany Hagler-Geard of ABC News shared an early look at some of the photographs from Tim Mantoani's Archiving Photographic Legends book project: "For the past five years, Tim Mantoani, has been making portraits of noted photographers, holding their most iconic image, on the rare and huge format of a 20×24 Polaroid camera.  He created a book showcasing 158 photographers with their iconic images."

    Chantaie Allick of The Toronto Star explored the successes of two documentary projects — Continental and The Jungle Prescription noting: "Toronto-based independent filmmaker Malcolm Ingram wanted to do a movie about the famed Continental bathhouses in New York City. The problem: paying for it. Instead of going the usual route of finding investors, applying for grants and pitching to broadcasters, he turned to the Internet. Specifically, to, a crowd-sourced fundraising site that allows artists and other creative types to make appeals for money, doled out in portions as small as $1, to finance projects. The platform has had a huge impact on the way independent films are funded and is changing the way filmmakers connect with audiences."

    Carson Leh hand-stitching one of his custom designed bike saddles.
    Carson Leh hand-stitching one of his custom designed bike saddles.

    Ray Hu of Core77 spotlighted the tastefully designed Alden Seats project: "Enter Carson Leh's beautifully brogued bicycle saddles, which have far more in common with handmade dress shoes than, say, a $20,000 Hublot × BMC. Rather, they hearken back to the signature details of oxfords and derbys, a logical intersection of Leh's obsession with vintage footwear and his passion for cycling."

    Rachel Lebeaux of The Boston Globe wrote about the Quinn Popcorn project: "Looking back at their journey, the Lewises said that their crowd-sourcing approach was essential to developing a product with a built-in fan base that filled a market need. 'I really believe in using your ideal end user to make a product really good,' Coulter said. 'When what you’re creating is desirable, people really want it. From there, you’re lucky to have things like Kickstarter now. A platform like that is incredible — not only for the capital, but for the emotional boost.'" 

    David Gonzalez of the New York Times' Lens blog focused in on the Guatemala's Lost Photographs project: "This week, while Mr. Ríos Montt is under house arrest, Ms. Simon is reprinting her book Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tirania, a chronicle of the worst of the war years that builds upon her 1988 volume Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny. This time, she has raised $20,000 through Kickstarter to help produce 4,000 copies on glossy stock and with sewn bindings that will be sold for about $10 each." 

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