The Kickstarter Blog

Meet the Team: Jes and David P.

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Jes and David P.:

Jes Nelson (@calamity_jan)

Job: "I answer questions and offer advice about the site for both backers and project creators. (I also sit across from Alfie. He's awesome. You will meet him soon.)"

  • Food Pyramid Investigates the Continental United States — "Food Pyramid pulls influence from 70s German electronica, 80s Chicago house, and acoustic ecological investigations (little to do with health class). They also hail from Minneapolis, MN (my home), and were the first to introduce to me Kickstarter through this project! Enjoy their music here."
  • Lucky Luna — "Lucky Luna is quickly becoming my favorite dinner spot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn! The creators, Howard Jang, Ken Ho, and Marisa Cadena, combine Mexican and Taiwanese street style food, classic cocktails, along with chill and attentive service — I couldn’t ask for more. Request a 'Rainy Day' from the bartender, and order everything on the menu. This place rules."
  • Northern Spark — "Northern Spark is an all night arts festival that encourages consideration of what’s possible in public space. Spanning across the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul), this is the one night out of the year when these neighboring cities really feel connected. In regards to the visual landscape of the event, I like to describe it as a State Fair for multimedia enthusiasts — there are projectors everywhere."

David Peter (@davidnoob)

Job: "I engineer and maintain stuff for backers, creators, and fellow employees." (Note: Good job hiding your whole "narwhal supervillain" hobby, David.)

  • Superhot — "What an amazing game concept. I haven't owned a mouse for three years, but I think I'm getting one for this."
  • Reading Rainbow — "It's for an incredible cause with one of the greatest project videos I've ever seen. LeVar Burton (through Geordi La Forge) is a childhood role model, and when he visited the office, I got to shake his hand and eat popsicles and talk about books. I think I was teary."
  • Schmuck, a Graphic Novel — "I love stories about life. Unfortunately, this creator got diagnosed with leukemia, the same cancer my father has. Life. I'm anxiously awaiting his convalescence."
  • Hello Ruby — "I think it's important to get people excited about programming at an early age. And she posts such incredibly detailed posts about how much she's learning from doing this — it's great!"

Jenny Drumgoole Wants to Wish You a Happy Trash Day

The first-ever Happy Trash Day was a thank-you for multimedia artist Jenny Drumgoole's local trash collectors. Since that day, Drumgoole has been holding regular surprise parties for the sanitation workers of her home city of Philadelphia. 

This is what happens: dressed as her character, Soxx, Jenny picks a location, finds out when the sanitation workers arrive, and sets up her party (complete with snacks, party favors, and her own colorful clown outfits), and waits for the guests of honor to arrive. 

There's also an awareness-raising element: the parties that she puts on are not only a pick-me-up for the trash crews that come down the city's streets, but also a way to educate citizens about the situation of the sanitation workers of Philly, who haven't had a raise in five years. The project she's running will help her to throw a month-long blitz of parties. 

We talked to Jenny about Happy Trash Day, how it came to be, and why it continues to happen. 

How did the first Happy Trash Day come together? 

Happy Trash Day started as just a little thank you for my trash collectors when I asked them to film a couple of scenes with me as this character I’ve used in previous videos, “Soxx." I asked the trash crew as they came down my street to throw me a bag of garbage and lift me up. They were great. It was really hot that day and it was towards the end of their shift. I was not expecting them to oblige the way they did. 

So the following week, I decided that I/Soxx should thank them. I put up balloons and streamers and modified a happy birthday banner to read “Happy Trash Day." Then I just waited for them to come. People who passed would stop to take pictures and ask what I was doing. I said “It’s trash day and I’m here to thank the trash collectors”.

When the trash crew finally came, I found out the crew that came the week before was not my regular crew. So when my regular guys drove down the block for this first official Happy Trash Day, they didn’t know what was going on (they just saw a clown jumping and waving them down in the street). Once they saw the signs and balloons they started laughing and said that no one back at the sanitation yard would believe that anyone would do this, so they wanted to take pictures. They also took the balloons and the Happy Trash Day banner for the truck. From then on, I just wanted to make the parties bigger and more memorable. 

Once I was several months into doing the parties, I found out that the sanitation workers haven’t had a raise or a contract for more than five years. So Happy Trash Day has become both a special thank you for the trash collectors and a way to help push towards a contract resolution…while having the most fun possible. 

What's the best reaction that you've gotten so far? 

It’s hard to pick one favorite reaction to Happy Trash Day. I’ve done them in several areas throughout the city, so it’s been really nice to meet so many sanitation workers in the city. Everyone’s reaction starts with a bit on confusion, then turns to excitement when I explain that this is a party for them. It’s also nice to see the reaction of people who pass on the street. Neighbors will come out when they see what’s happening and bring more refreshments for the trash collectors. 

I’ve also gotten emails from people in different states (and even in Europe) who want to have their own Happy Trash Day! That’s pretty great. 

Speaking of reactions, what's the public reaction been like to the advocacy element of the project?

Everyone has been really supportive of Happy Trash Day so far. It’s hard not to like a happy clown on the street having a surprise thank you party. It’s a fun, spirited (and slightly bizarre) atmosphere at Happy Trash Day. I set up all of the decorations between everyone’s garbage that has been put out. I’ve found that most people in Philly don’t know that the sanitation workers have continued to work without a raise or a contract. It has become a kind of subversive way for me to rally people to do right by people who work so hard for the people of Philly. 

I have been going to Philadelphia’s City Council and speaking during the public comment portion of City Council meetings about Happy Trash Day (as Soxx of course). At first I thought they were going to have security escort me out, but thankfully they didn’t. 

I’ve even had meetings with Councilmen where we have talked about an official resolution marking an official Happy Trash Day in Philadelphia. But I’ve decided that there can’t be a true Happy Trash Day until the sanitation workers get their contract resolved. So that’s got to happen first. 

What influences you in general and with this project? 

Filmmakers and artists like George Kuchar, John Waters and Michael Moore. I’m also inspired by really epic ’80s bands like AC/DC. I also am really influenced by my super talented friends who have helped me with the project and make their own work. 

What else are you working on? 

Well, the project proposed for this Kickstarter is going to take a lot of my time over the next several months. There are going to be some really fun themed trash days (you pick the theme if you donate $100!)…one donor has already sponsored a Robot themed trash day! But I am also working on a really exciting collaborative video series with my husband and two friends called “Soxx’s Power Hour." 

We just finished shooting the first episode (there’s singing, dancing and some pretty epic music) and are already planning the second episode. We’re shooting it all around Philly. The first episode should be done in about two weeks, so look out for it!

Introducing Two New Categories: Journalism and Crafts

Kickstarter’s a home to countless kinds of creativity — so we like to make sure all the different communities that bring their ideas here have a little space to call their own. That’s why we recently added 94 new subcategories: everything from space exploration to vegan food. Today, we’re excited to create official homes for two fields where creators have already brought huge amounts of energy and ingenuity to Kickstarter: journalism and crafts.

It’d be a vast understatement to say the world of journalism is currently experiencing a lot of change. To us, that means it’s more important than ever to make sure journalists have the tools and resources to try new things — whether they’re professionals looking for innovative ways of funding and sharing their work, or ordinary folks with a hunger to tell the stories around them. Together, we’ve seen people launch terrific podcasts, magazines, works of photojournalism, websites, and striking tools for learning about the world. We’re sure we’ll be seeing even more amazing things to come.

And we’re especially pleased to announce that the Guardian, an institution with a global reputation for producing great and uncompromising journalism, is launching a curated page to highlight compelling projects from around the world. Caspar Llewellyn Smith, Head of Culture at Guardian News & Media, explains it this way:

“At the Guardian, we’re excited by new forms and models of journalism, and Kickstarter’s focus on the fourth estate is something we’re happy to support by helping pick the projects that we think look most interesting.”

Since Kickstarter launched, we’ve also seen hundreds and hundreds of beautiful crafts projects funded: knitting and candlemaking, glasswork and pottery, woodworking and taxidermy and more. They’re rarely blockbuster projects — when people work by hand, with attention and care to every piece, they’re usually not interested in big numbers. But that’s exactly why these projects are some of our favorites, and why we wanted to give them a home of their own. There’s a lot to love about these crafts, from the rich traditions behind them to the imagination that comes out in each work. From now on, you can see all of that artistry under one banner.

A last quick note to those of you who’d already backed a project in every category, filling in all 13 little pie-slices on your profile page: sorry! You might be a couple categories short again. But we doubt it’ll take long for you to come across an exciting new podcast or photobook, or the work of a passionate weaver or printer, and fill right up again. Just watch out for more new categories as our community grows and changes.

Jocelyn Towne on the Creation of her Film I Am I

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When writer/director/actor Jocelyn Towne launched the Kickstarter project page for her film I Am I at the end of 2010, it appeared alongside an inventive video pitch for the film. In a single take, Towne and a cast of actors and close friends popped up in various rooms of the house she was living in (and also her bed), selling the concept. It's a difficult piece of choreography, and rather than obsess over getting it exactly right, Towne allowed for a few flaws. It's warm, watchable, and entertaining. On Friday, June 13th, the film—which is about about a woman meeting her mentally ill father, who thinks she's his wife—will see wide release in theaters and on demand. We spoke with Towne about that notorious project video as well as what's been happening with I Am I over the last few years. 

How did you arrive at the concept for your project video?

I knew that I had to do something that stood out. I watched as many Kickstarter videos as I could get my hands on. I played devil’s advocate with my own emotions watching other people’s videos. I knew I was doing it from a very intellectual place—watching the videos. So I was like, "what’s going to move me to contribute to someone else’s project?" Most of the time it was not people who said, "we have a really heartfelt project that means the world to us." That didn’t usually move me most of the time. Everybody has a heartfelt project, so hearing that didn’t turn the emotional meter for me, but what did usually was something that was humorous and light and funny and had me enjoy just watching the video itself. That was my inspiration for trying to come up with something that would do that for me.

It looks like it was done in one shot.

It was. I was overwhelmed by getting the project together and I thought, well if I don’t need an editor it would be so much simpler. So how can I do this on my own without needing an editor? Oh I’ll do it in one shot. Even though it took a lot of choreography, we got it in seven takes. It’s not perfect, but I didn’t need it to be. It’s good but it didn’t have to be perfectly framed every single time. It just had to have the right feeling. That’s what I was going for. Making sure the feeling was there. I wrote the script out and that took awhile just to think of the idea and then people came over that evening. I’d already rehearsed it with our DP and myself and we knew what we had to do and people just jumped in and did their parts and did them great.

When you were coming up with the idea was it just as simple as thinking that you wanted to get people over to your house?

All the people in the video are friends from my theater company, so whenever someone needs help, people from the theater company are there to help, so it wasn’t hard to get friends over to help out because that’s what we all do for each other.

There’s a weird balance between making a dramatic film and a lighthearted project video. Were you worried about it clashing with your film?

I worried about everything. I worried about that. I worried about what people would think of me for asking for money, which is kind of how I came up with the idea for the video of asking people to get into bed with you. I was like, "this is uncomfortable for me." Asking people for money is as uncomfortable as just asking people to get into bed with me if I didn’t know them. Which is where that idea came from. I stressed out about almost every single thing in the video and the campaign, just because it was such new territory and I didn’t know that many people who had done a Kickstarter campaign before myself. Ultimately, I thought that people would relate more to me and the project if it was more lighthearted, and I hope that even though the movie is dramatic in tone, i tried to tell the story with a lightness of touch so it wasn’t too heavy-handed. I think it accomplishes that. I don’t think it’s a melodrama, so I wanted to find that with the campaign video too.

On the I Am I site you've been conducting interviews with your father and other filmmakers. They don't come off as promotional, more just genuine interviews about filmmaking. Why did you do those? 

There were definitely selfish reasons—the first one was my dad, so just getting to have that time. Getting him to talk about his experience and just having that closeness with him. It was also because I wanted advice from people I knew and admired. I wanted to do more of those interviews too. I had some other great people lined up. I still want to interview them about their first filmmaking experience, it’s just everything kind of took off and got really crazy and busy. It was just trying to get practical advice from friends and filmmakers about what it was like their first time making a film, and seeing if i could use any of that advice before I went into my first filmmaking experience.

Having a dad that worked in film means you probably grew up around it. Did you always want to get into it?

I was always interested in writing from a young age. I think that was definitely a huge influence from my dad because I always watched him writing in his office. That was something that’s always been part of the grand scheme of things. Becoming a filmmaker and directing was something that was very new and part of this project. I didn’t have any aspirations originally to direct it. It was my producers who told me that maybe I should consider doing it because I had written it just for myself to act in. That was what my dream was originally. Then refocusing to become the director of the story—which I realized I really wanted to be without knowing it. I realized how much control i wanted over the story. It was something that was new. I’ve fallen in love with in the process of doing my first film, and now I got to direct a second film and actually sit behind the camera the entire time. That was a newfound love as I ventured into this whole process.

Why is it important to you to have such complete control?

I think that when you’re telling a story that means a lot to you, to think of giving up control somewhere along the way to either a studio or other artists completely... I love collaborating, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to collaborate, I just love being able to have a voice in the decision making process as it goes down the road of everything: of distribution, post production, everything. I’m so glad I did it with I Am I because getting the film out into the world is just as difficult as getting it made, and a huge part of making sure that you have control of your film is making sure that you have that voice throughout the entire process.

You’ve already made a second movie, but now I Am I is getting a wide release. How do you feel about that?

It’s a very strange feeling because in some ways after making it through all of post-production, I kind of let it go and also because getting a distribution deal took awhile longer than the normal—or whatever normal is, i don’t even know anymore—it just took awhile to get a distribution deal, and to get the one we thought was right for the project. I got to see it with an audience a couple times when it did its film festival premiere and then it just sort of went into hibernation for awhile. I had to kind of let go of that feeling of getting to share it with the world, but not really feeling like i had to gotten to share it yet, because I hadn’t shared it with anyone from Kickstarter and those were all the people who helped get it made. It was this very strange feeling of work, work, work and then nobody really gets to share it with you. So the fact that it’s coming out now is really exciting and surreal. I feel lucky I get to have this part of the process too. In some ways I was accepting that just the process of working on it was enough, and now that I get to actually have the part of it where people see it, I’m remembering, oh yeah that’s what filmmaking is about: getting to share it with the world. I’m re-opening that feeling of actually getting to have an interaction with people after they see it. I’m excited about it.

When you initially put I Am I on Kickstarter it was a lot less common for films on the site to make it into wide theatrical release. At the time, did you feel like you were willfully removing yourself from the film industry when you needed to be part of it?

The way I thought of it was I was getting something done by any means necessary. It definitely felt like taking a step out of the known way of getting a film made, but I felt desperate enough to do whatever it took to get my project made. I had the fire underneath me of wanting to start a family and have children, and I felt like it was now or never—if I don’t do this now, there’s never going to be an easier time. Discovering Kickstarter was a complete revelation to me, because I hadn’t heard of it before my producers told me about it. So I started researching it, and all of a sudden it became this incredible possibility of being able to get things done on my own terms. It feels like I’ve always tried to do things that way. I think it has to do with having artistic control. I remember when I was writing the script to this, people said, "Oh, you could try and sell this. Maybe some big actress would be interested in playing this part." I had a lot of encouragement to relinquish control of the script and see if I could sell it and just be seen as a writer. I didn’t want to be seen just as a writer, I really wanted to play that part for myself, which was why I had written it. I had to take a different road.

Introducing the Creator Handbook

The Kickstarter team has spent the past half decade helping tens of thousands of creators bring their ideas to life — offering advice, feedback, tips, and anything else we can to help people make amazing projects. We’ve also talked to countless creators about what they learned from their campaigns, what it’s like to run one, and the best ways to help a project succeed. It all adds up to a mountain of collected knowledge about how to make an idea thrive.

Today we have some good news for you: we’ve collected as much of that knowledge as we could in one easy-to-access place. Allow us to introduce you to the Creator Handbook, our newest resource for building something great.

It’s your one-stop guide to designing a solid Kickstarter project, presenting it effectively, finding backers, and delivering on your plans. It has insights and articles from Kickstarter veterans on how they pulled off successful campaigns. It has tips, tricks, and best practices on everything from making a project video to sorting out schedules, working with backers, and fulfilling rewards. Want to learn more about running a great project? This is the place to start.

You can dive in right here. And if there’s anything you think we’ve left out, just share it with everyone in the comments!

Meet the Team: Michael and Carol

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Michael and Carol:

Michael Stewart (@michaelcstewart)

Job: "I do some weird things to help out around here but mostly I support our CEO in his day-to-day. I also shoot a lot of Vines."

  • The Field Guide to Nachos — "Nachos are my favorite food (sorry you had to find out like this, pizza). It's about time an enterprising individual collected all the different kinds in a portable reference book."
  • In Search of a Sole — "I'm a secret shoe enthusiast; I've backed four shoe projects on Kickstarter so far. This one came from a really swell couple in Canada that makes the coolest bespoke leather shoes together."
  • Don't Hug Me I'm Scared — "Gosh, I really hope this project makes it. It's a dark, mind-bending puppet show with insanely high production value. Plus it has the truest risks and challenges I've ever seen."

Carol Benovic (@CarAnnBen)

Job: "I put words together to help explain the tools and function of Kickstarter. I also take lots of meeting minutes and enjoy using post-its."

  • The Birthday Cake Project — "I love the idea of taking a little bit of time each day to celebrate something. Louise's project aims to do just that. She's going to celebrate 30 consecutive birthdays throughout the month of June with new friends, cake and interviews!"
  • Ultimate Christian Wrestling — "I'm a huge fan of wrestling. Jae-Ho's project, 'Ultimate Christian Wrestling', is a documentary that drives home the fact that while some story lines within wrestling shows are fictional, the stories of the folks behind the masks, capes and moves are all very real."
  • I Am Santa Claus — "Keeping with the theme of celebrating and wrestling, I obviously backed 'I Am Santa Claus,' which features the one and only Mick Foley. Mick was one of me and my brothers' favorite wrestlers while we were growing up. 'I Am Santa Claus' is a look into the lives of dudes who dress up as Santa. Can't wait to see this documentary!"
  • The Heartless Machine Guide to Drawing — "I love journals, sketchbooks, notebooks, postcards and diaries. Anything I can put words and doodles on, basically. The Heartless Machine Guide to Drawing is an awesome book filled with partial sketches; great drawing inspiration. I also met Hanna and Dami at our block party after backing their projects (Experience Journal & A Memory Between Us). I can't wait to write and draw on these, and send some awesome postcards to my friends."

Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson on the Creation of HRDCVR

The print industry may still be figuring out how to contend with the speed and convenience of the internet, but there's plenty of freedom there. It has allowed publications to play with format, to create fantastically designed products that don't need to compete with the internet because they're running on a different track entirely. Enter HRDCVR, the new "book shaped magazine" from writer/editors (and husband and wife) Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson. Both Smith and Wilson are veterans of the industry: Smith edited Vibe for a number of years and Wilson helped to create the seminal Ego Trip before moving on to edit both The Source and XXL, as well as his website Rap Radar. Both are, in their own ways, magazine and music lifers, and HRDCVR is the latest iteration of that. We spoke to them about their ideas and goals for the publication.

How did you come up with HRDCVR?

Danyel: Elliott and I have been talking about wanting to work together on something. We never could figure out exactly what. When I decided to apply for the Stanford scholarship, I knew I wanted to do something to serve a multicultural audience, and more importantly was created by teams reflecting that audience. I was thinking about doing some kind of weird teaching platform about how to manage these multicultural teams, because it’s something I’ve done a lot of in my life, but then I was taking this great class at Stanford and a lot of the kids in the class were product design graduate students, and they were asking me, "So what are you doing with your fellowship?" I was explaining to them something that didn’t really sound like something, and they said, "That sounds wack, why don’t you make something?" These are kids that are figuring out how to build a better thermometer, so they’re like, why don’t you build something? I loved this class. It was a history of design schools, and I was influenced by them a lot. Obviously Elliot and I influence each other all the time [as well]. Elliott doesn’t believe in anything until something has a title. We started taking about what HRDCVR could be before it had a name, and he just wasn’t into it. Finally, I said, "I thought of a name: HRDCVR. He said, "I can tell by the way you’re saying it that we’re going to do it."

Elliott: I definitely like a brand name. when I came up with Rap Radar—it may sound weird or generic at first but then when you start saying names of brands, it starts to become a reality. We definitely feel like the whole energy—the specialness of when a magazine comes out—is lacking across the board. There’s a lack of spirit or enthusiasm. You go to newsstands and you’re not as inspired as you once were, or go to bookstores and you’re not inspired. Let’s join forces, let’s work together for the first time creating an editorial vision, and let’s build that super magazine—literally a hardcover—so it has that same quality of a book, where it’s something you want to have on your coffee table, something you want to have possession of, something you’re going to want to Instagram and show your friends. Let’s create a movement behind it.

Why do you think the excitement of picking up a new magazine isn't there for you anymore?

Danyel: There’s a lot of people at magazines still doing good work. I just think there used to be a lot more of it. I feel like what’s missing now, and frankly what has been missing almost since forever, is what multicultural teams bring to the magazine experience. It hasn’t really been seen a lot in the history of this country. I don’t want to get too Kumbaya with it, but I do like the idea of people of all races—ALL, not just of color, not just white—just everybody... to see all of that reflected, beautifully designed, beautifully written about with wisdom and grace all in the same place—I think all of that has been missing since before the recent downturn and changes in publishing.

Elliott: We’re very active in digital. I have Rap Radar, she has a Tumblr with over 100,000 followers. We live, breathe, and eat off social media. We’re in the conversation. We know what’s going on. But we feel like there’s still a place for the print medium if it’s done in an innovative way. That costs money, and a lot of people don’t want to put money into it because it’s easier to put money into the digital space. We understand that the audience still wants things of quality. They want to possess things, and feel part of a movement. It’s the right time to launch HRDCVR in this landscape.

Danyel: I want to know what the millennials are brining to paper. I would love to see that. I would love for millennials to see what their name looks like printed as a byline in ink on paper. I would love to see the kind of story ideas they have, what kind of new ways of telling stories they’re bringing to an editorial meeting and to the pages of HRDCVR. I would love to see the topics that come up. Let’s talk about how things can be expressed differently, how they can be designed differently, how they can be reported differently. I would like to see that over the course of my career. If there’s anything I’m responding to, it’s that. I also think the quote unquote new generation is being talked at, not to. The so called new normal, the new everyone, as I like to call them. How the demographics are changing. How the new demographic got Obama elected—all these things. I feel like all these things are so often written about the people behind the graph bars, these human beings. They’re not being written to. They’re not writing because they don’t have positions at the news companies, media companies, publications.

I’m not saying that people of color aren’t doing great work right now, because they are. At HRDCVR, we reject the niche and we reject the mainstream. We are about the multi-stream. We’re trying to squeeze as much in there as we can. Sometimes we’re like should we be more focused? Should we be a sports book? Should we be a music book? Should we be all that? We’re starting out big, if we have to narrow down later, okay fine. [Right now] we want to be a potluck where everyone is there.

Elliott: And speaking of the millennials, there’s a lot of talent and voice out there but they’re not learning. We learn from the new generation and they learn from us, and there should be that exchange where we’re helping to develop writers and make them better. Everyone can benefit from a great editor.

Danyel: Wouldn’t it be great for people to go through an edit? Wouldn’t that be amazing? Maybe they’ll hate it and never want to do it again, but why not go through it? Why not see what your writing would be like if you went through an edit? Maybe you’ll take that skill somewhere else and just turn the party out at the next job interview that you go through. Also, we are very serious about paying people. No, we’re not going to be able to pay everyone that’s amazing their rate. The more I think about the younger writers—all these people are out there doing good work, but they’re not out there in the larger culture as much as they could be. We’re going to have these people at HRDCVR.

So you really feel like there's a lack of editing in the magazine world.

Elliott: You can have a horrible editing experience in the time of your career, but at the end of the day if you find a good editor, It’s going to bring the best out of you. You need somebody to look at your writing with fresh eyes and with some insight to help you find your voice and develop your voice better. It’s different now. People come in and rewrite content. I’m not saying I’ve never done that, [but] you learn how to be a better editor as you get more experienced, and you realize that your job is to develop that voice and represent that point of view that is trying to be expressed. It’s the only way you get better. It’s like going to the gym. You have to work out as you get older. You have to stay in shape. You don’t want to do it some days, but you’ll be better off for it, you’ll live a better life.

Danyel: One of the best things that was ever said to me about writing was like this: I turn in something and the editor hands it back to me and says, "Your lede is in your conclusion, and you need to write a conclusion, so do that and get back to me and then we’ll go over it line-by-line." That sounded so terrible to me. Like I was such a failure and hadn’t written the right piece, or done a good job, or disappointed an editor I respected. He was just like, "What are you talking about? This is the fun part. You’ve written it. We’re about to make this the most amazing piece ever. You’ve given me 3000 words of clay, so let’s get started. Let’s cut out 700 words and make it super tight. Let’s move to the bottom to the top and write a new bottom after we see exactly what you’re trying to say. And let’s make it as clear as we possibly can." Then I started seeing what a piece could become. It can’t always be a first draft. That’s not what we’re going to be publishing. things are going to be edited and they’re going to be great. We’re not trying to make you change your mind about your thesis, we’re trying to bring it to light.

This is the first time you guys have collaborated professionally, right? How's that going?

Elliott: Danyel’s probably the first real editor I ever had. She was running the review section at Vibe in the mid-'90s. She taught me about kickers—the end line of a review...what’s the final little oomph? What’s your walk off strut? What’s your drop the mic moment? I remember, I came to her office and she had a thesaurus and a dictionary—that’s how old school it was. I was like, Okay, you have this book, I’m going to get this book. Me and my partner Sasha Jenkins—we started a magazine called Ego Trip—we’d sit at her desk and we were so excited to be up at Vibe magazine—if you had a thesaurus then we needed a thesaurus. Danyel taught me a lot about reviews and how to structure reviews and be more effective. I had a lot of voice but less structure. Kinda like the blog culture. I had a lot of what I wanted to say. I was strong in my opinion and what I thought was good or bad, there was no in-between. I learned a lot—and then of course we had a falling out. I thought I deserved more work from her.

Danyel: You’re telling this story again?

Elliott: I acted a fool and then I ended up not being welcome at Vibe anymore and then I got a job at The Source magazine.

Danyel: Oh you are exaggerating.

Elliott: At The Source, we competed against Vibe. Fast forward: Danyel goes in and out of the business as she tends to do, I’m at XXL [magazine] for several years, we hook up. We get married.

Danyel: I don’t know if "hook up" is the appropriate word.

Elliott: We got together. Around the time of our one year anniversary, she gets the offer to go back to Vibe. I was like, "Well this is crazy, we’re going to compete against each other."

Danyel: It was tough.

Elliott: There was a time when I ran XXL and she ran Vibe and we were still a married couple and we still competed. She beat me to all these covers and hopefully I would beat her sometimes. Now we’re at the point, career-wise where I have no ties with any other magazine, and she doesn’t have ties with any other magazine. My pedigree is more of a pure hip-hop head on the surface, and on the surface Danyel is a little more sophisticated, knows more about politics, and the culture overall.

There are times when Danyel is at the forefront and I need to support her, and times when I’m at the forefront and she needs to support me. We do a good job for each other with that. It doesn’t take away each other’s strengths. That’s how we approach our marriage and that’s how we’ll approach the magazine and doing business together.

Danyel: It’s fun. Me and Elliott argue anyway, so why not argue about something incredible? Why argue about the trash or taking the dishes out of the dishwasher when you could argue about, do you like this design? Re-read this and tell me what you think. We need to film another ID video for the campaign. How come you didn’t write that idea down i told you about? Now we don’t know where it is. Let’s argue about that great stuff. Let’s argue about music. Let’s argue about politics. Let’s argue about real stuff. We might as well do HRDCVR. Let’s do something together. Elliott's a pretty fantastic guy. I’m happy to be in business with him, even if I wasn’t married to him.

You mentioned on your Kickstarter page that you wanted to have writers write outside of their comfort zones.

Danyel: Yes! Elliott, you know how much you love to talk about how rock writers should come in and write about hip-hop and the black and Latin and Asian writers should write about rock.

Elliott: We’ve always fought against that. We were editors at quote unquote urban magazines. You come up in the '90s and a rock critic can write about Cam’ron but you can’t write about PJ Harvey. We’re not trying to limit writers. We want writers to get the most out of their experience writing for HRDCVR. They can write about things they may not be able to write about for other publications.

Danyel: There’s a lot of places too where women at mainstream publications are writing about things their bosses think they ought to write about, instead of things they’re passionate about. This is your opportunity to pitch and be considered for what you think you can do instead of what others think you can do. These narrow things that people think you can write about—if you’re the Asian person on staff and then it’s Chinese new year, and someone is like, "seems like a good story…" maybe that person isn’t even into that. Those kinds of things are played out, and they’ve been played out forever. It still goes on. It’s not changing really. I see these new media companies being enlarged and I look at mastheads and make sense of it on Twitter and other places—I don’t see the new everyone reflected. I don’t know how new your media is, except for the platform really. Elliott and I want something different. Everyone’s included. Not in every issue—now I’m talking about it like it’s an ongoing project—Overall, it’ll be for everyone.

A lot of niche publications do amazing, passionate and excellent work. There’s a place for those publications, and I love those publications, but HRDCVR wants to do something different. It wants to see the new everyone in the same place. It’s never existed. For years, magazines like TIME, Newsweek, they would say, "we serve everyone. We serve the mainstream." No matter how many times they said it, it just wasn’t true. it still isn’t true. We’re a magazine for everyone.

Ten Creators, One Question: What Did You Learn?

Some parts of the project process are straightforward, and some present a new challenge or bring on a new experience. We asked ten Kickstarter project creators to respond to the same question: 

What did you learn during your Kickstarter project?  

Jacob Krupnick, Girl Walk//All Day: Naïveté can be a mighty gift. If I knew what sort of undertaking making a whole film would be, it would've been crushingly intimidating. Instead, I thought about the 577 people who backed Girl Walk and imagined a small village of people cheering us on, anticipating our finish line. Film #2 feels far scarier than film #1.

Molly Crabapple, Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell: Hotel security is far more slack than I ever expected.

Lauren Krakauskas, Freaker USA: Kickstarter is bigger than just the money that you raise. The concept of building a community, of testing the markets, of using all the energy you have to see if “doing what you want” is a realistically profitable life-option… it’s incredible. Everybody has something. Something they love. Something that excites them. What if somebody out there is into it? What if a lot of people out there are into it? Kickstarter is wildly important. It’s not just a funding platform, it’s a testing lab for a new way of living.

Jay Silver, MaKey MaKey: Too much to list. I learned what moves people. I learned that honey is not conductive, and neither is oil, but avocado and cat paws are, but hamster feet are more complex. I discovered that I used to want to live in the '60s when the revolution was happening, but I'm finding that it's coming back around, and I'm in the right era, gay marriage, brown president, legalized marijuana, government lies exposed, internet-catalyzed revolts, and I don't need any CEO's permission to launch an idea, just the crowd's. 

My favorite lesson is that if you believe in people a little, they believe in themselves a lot.

Sam Jacoby, Form1: The people and community involved are the most important part of any product. We're always talking to our community, and Kickstarter really got that all started. Some of the folks on our team were our earliest Kickstarter backers.

Lisa Q. Fetterman, Nomiku: Your Kickstarter fans are forever fans. These are folks who believed in you from the very beginning and have a lot of insight into your company. Some will even last longer than our first employees!

Eric Kersman, BRCK: We learned that you need to prepare a good amount of multimedia materials and really test out your copy before you push a Kickstarter live. The week before we finally “published” our Kickstarter was a bit hectic as we were going through so many things so quickly. We spent quite a bit of time testing out our images and copy with friends, peers and would-be customers to ensure that what we were saying resonated with people immediately.

Coulter Lewis, Quinn Popcorn: We learned how to tell our story, how to connect to people, how to get others to feel the passion we have for this. On Kickstarter you have the attention of people who want to believe, who want help make something great come to life. That's a one of kind opportunity. If you can't connect to that audience then there's no hope when you are in the real word where it's all inferred, where you are lucky to get a customer to read one sentence of the back of your box.  

Alex Blumberg, Planet Money T-Shirt: I learned that people really will support projects that capture their attention. I learned that putting together the most ambitious multimedia project in NPR's history is really exhausting, but also really fun. And I learned that the people who make our clothes are real, complicated individuals, with real nuanced ideas about the clothes they help bring into being.

Patrick O'Neill, Olloclip: [I learned] that the Kickstarter community is full of amazing people with great creativity. I have met so many of our original backers at events and just met one at SXSW [recently].