Meet Kickstarter’s 2019 Thought Leaders

Kickstarter's 2019 Thought Leaders
Kickstarter's 2019 Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders are an international group of Kickstarter creators who are celebrated as leaders in their fields.

In 2017, Kickstarter introduced our first Thought Leaders, an international group of Kickstarter creators and advocates selected for their wisdom, experience, and contributions to the creative community.

Since then, Thought Leaders have teamed up with their communities to lead events and launch groundbreaking projects. Here are just a few of the things they accomplished:

We're proud to welcome 13 new creators to the Thought Leaders program in 2019:

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Exquisite Objects: Discover Rare and Beautiful Books on Kickstarter

A Kickstarter-funded facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s Bolted Book. Photo by Lauren Renner.
A Kickstarter-funded facsimile of Fortunato Depero’s Bolted Book. Photo by Lauren Renner.

Throughout the month of February, Kickstarter will celebrate Exquisite Objects, a collection of artful publishing and design projects created to delight the senses. Here, Kickstarter’s Director of Publishing Margot Atwell shares a bit more about the initiative.

Spending an afternoon in a rare or secondhand bookshop is one of my favorite things to do. Trailing my finger along the spines of gorgeous leather-bound gold-embossed hardcover books; sliding a book out of its protective slipcase and thumbing the deckled edges. Beautifully published books create new entry points into classic works and encourage new ways of experiencing old stories. They can also signify that a text is worthy of a reader’s time and attention.

This month, we’ve invited a few of our favorite creators to dream big and make something truly stunning and out of the ordinary. We call these works “Exquisite Objects” because the care put into their creation far surpasses the common paperback—these works incorporate an attention to detail worthy of a museum display. To borrow a phrase from Josh O'Neill of Beehive Books, these books are "refined, gorgeous, and elegant, but still somehow kind of punk rock."

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Comics on Kickstarter Keep Hitting New Highs

Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.
Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead at Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter Comics category had a massive year in 2018, with backers from around the world pledging a record $16 million to projects large and small. For nearly a decade, comics makers have been coming to Kickstarter in pursuit of creative autonomy. This sense of independence has fostered the robust community of comics lovers we see on Kickstarter today. And it keeps growing!

Here’s the breakdown from last year:

  • $16 million pledged to all projects, up 26% from 2017.
  • $15.3 million pledged to successfully funded projects, up 27% from 2017.
  • 1,457 projects funded, up 14% from 2017, the previous best year, and nearly triple the amount in 2012.
  • 70% funding success rate
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Apply to Become a Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence this Spring

2018 Creator-in-Residence Maëlle Doliveux with her dog Leeloo.
2018 Creator-in-Residence Maëlle Doliveux with her dog Leeloo.

We’re excited to announce the open call for Kickstarter’s Spring/Summer 2019 Creators-in-Residence program

Launched in 2017, our Creators-in-Residence program invites NYC-based creators who are in the process of planning, launching, or about to fulfill a Kickstarter campaign to join us at our Brooklyn HQ for a three-month residency. Past residents have included choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, artist and author Adam J. Kurtz, and artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy.

The Spring/Summer 2019 session will run from Monday, March 4, through Friday, May 31. During the residency, each creator will be paired with a staff mentor who specializes in their area of interest and will offer guidance on how to manage a Kickstarter campaign. Residents receive access to a dedicated workspace, as well as our theater, recording studio, library, meeting rooms, and kitchen. They also have opportunities to be featured in Kickstarter-produced editorial content, and are invited to attend regular workshops, talks, performances, and feedback sessions that put them in conversation with other creators and Kickstarter staff.

Interested in applying? Applications are due by Friday, February 8. Creators will be notified by February 22 if they’ve been selected for the program. Apply here.

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2018 Was a Record-Breaking Year for Games on Kickstarter

Just when you thought the Games category on Kickstarter couldn’t get any bigger, it did. 2018 was the category’s best year yet, featuring over 3,300 funded projects from both household names like Homestar Runner and new voices like Miguel Angel Espinoza

We at Kickstarter are very proud to be part of such a powerful, positive, and proactive community. Here, we look back at 2018 in numbers and projects. 

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Oriana Leckert Joins Kickstarter to Encourage Experimentation in Journalism Funding

Today we’re excited to announce that Oriana Leckert has joined Kickstarter as our Journalism Outreach Lead. Oriana has spent more than a decade working in the media: She’s written for a variety of outlets, including Slate, New York Post, Gothamist, Atlas Obscura, and Curbed, and she has edited for many more, including MTV News, Hyperallergic, Pitchfork, Voice of Witness, and The Believer. Her first book, Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity (Monacelli Press, 2015), grew out of a multi-year project chronicling the rise and fall of under-the-radar creative places across New York City.

Oriana Leckert. Photo by Ventiko.
Oriana Leckert. Photo by Ventiko.
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These Kickstarter-Funded Films Are Headed to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival

For the eighth year, Kickstarter creators will bring their documentaries, narrative features, shorts, and series to Park City.

This year, we’re thrilled to share that nine Kickstarter-funded projects will be making their way to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (January 24—Feb 3, 2019), joining the 123 Kickstarter-funded documentaries, features, shorts, and series that have been invited to screen at the fest since 2011.

From Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco to Knock Down the House, a documentary following the campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other women running for U.S. Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, this year’s selected films push forward new narratives, showcase emerging talent, and enhance the way we tell stories on-screen.

Kickstarter’s Film team will also be at Sundance this January, hosting events, panels, and parties at the Kickstarter Lodge and cheering on creators at their films’ world premieres. (Follow @Kickstarter on Instagram for live updates from the mountain.)

“So many of these films began as projects on Kickstarter years ago,” says Kickstarter’s Director of Documentary Film Liz Cook. “It’s a true testament to the time, grit, patience, and care these filmmakers bring to the stories they tell.”

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