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$6,943 pledged of $40,000 goal
$6,943 pledged of $40,000 goal

The end, but just the beginning

Well, we've reached the end of our Kickstarter campaign for the second issue of AUTOCULT magazine. And, as you've probably noticed, we didn't come close to reaching our goal of raising $40,000.00. 

But, as an entrepreneur, I have to not only be comfortable entering new territory, but learning valuable lessons from those journeys. On one hand, I won't mince words by saying that this Kickstarter was, in itself, a failure –– didn't pan out. On the other hand, failure in the eyes of an entrepreneur is only such if nothing was learned from the experience to be carried on to the next challenge and used in the endless pursuit of success. 

Sounds optimistic, right?

Of course it is. That's another trait I take advantage of with every waking hour. Eternally optimistic. And 52 people had my back on this thing, to whom I'm eternally grateful. When you hang your ass out there and bet your career, at so many points along the way that you lose count, on the things you really believe in, the people who stand up and support your trip hold an extra special importance to you. That's what all 52 of you mean to me. Believe that.

So, what's next? Well, it ain't over, I can promise that. We're working on a limited-edition 2013 calendar as we speak, some broadcast projects, wrapping up a few more photoshoots for the next issue of the print magazine, a gallery exhibit, a museum installation, a guest editor job for a coffee table book, looking for just the right office-slash-gallery location for our new HQ and continuing the search for just the right investors.

I've made some great contacts through this project that I wouldn't have probably crossed paths with in any other way – that's the optimism kicking in, there – and I'm grateful for that opportunity. While I don't think that the Kickstarter community is brimming with the AUTOCULT core audience, my work has always been centered around exposing new audiences to underground car culture and this project was a success in that way. Lost the battle, but winning the war, in that Sun Tzu-zian way. Far too often, we gearheads suffer from tunnel vision: we only talk to ourselves in ways that only we understand to the exclusion of the rest of the work is dedicated to changing that, while preserving the culture in doing so.

Hey, keep in touch. I can't thank you enough for committing to this AUTOCULT Kickstarter project and I'd love the chance to thank each of you personally. Drop me a note at the email address below and I look forward to hearing from you. Like I said, this is just the beginning. 

Dan Stoner

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The Europe-ian Final Countdown

Welp, we're inside the final week of our Kickstarter campaign. Much has happened since we started this project, but first, I'd like to thank our newest backers, er, Advisory Board members:

Stephan Boyd
Nathan Bradley
Anthony Llanes
Church (Cars Not Culture)
Jochen Fischer
Justin Schreiber
Julie Bradsher
Todd Fisher
R.J. Mengel
Alex Heidenreich
Jody Sorofman

I know it sounds naive, but I'm amazed and so grateful for your support. When you leave the comfort of a regular paycheck and the certainty of the benefits that come along with it to pursue your passion as a career, that little nervous feeling that makes you feel like you're going to barf all the time becomes a strange friend. But it also gets pushed down by the thrill and satisfaction of knowing that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. 

That's what AUTOCULT is to me: the Right Thing. I graduated from college with a degree in advertising, I got a job in advertising after I graduated and I spent more than a decade developing my career as an advertising art director. I did what I thought I was supposed to do. But there was always something missing from my work: real satisfaction. So, when I left it all to pursue my dream of creating something completely on my own and use my passion for automotive culture to do it, it was as nerve-racking as it was exciting. AUTOCULT feels right – I know it's what I'm supposed to do. Who gets to say that? Not everyone, I'll tell you that much.

So, will this Kickstarter project reach its goal? I hope so. But, like a successful entrepreneur and mentor told me, "Hope is not a strategy." The fact is – and like many other Kickstarter projects have realized – it may not happen. That's the real world, Jack. As of this update, six days are left and I'm $33,418.00 short to get this issue printed and fulfill the rewards promised. From what I can see in the backer trends, unless we suddenly get a few $10K backers added to the AUTOCULT advisory board, this dog won't hunt. 

But the other trait of a successful entrepreneur, as I've come to discover, is extreme optimism tempered by adaptability. It ain't over yet and six days is enough for just about anything to happen...

Oh, yeah – I don't want to sign off before sharing another image from this issue: a behind-the-scenes shot of photographer Jay Watson's mies en plas during a shoot for our cover story on the Royal Jokers' massive contributions to underground car culture. Dig Ruben Diaz' "Mother Ship" Riviera? Yeah, me too!

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Getting close!

Well, we're within spittin' distance of the end of our Kickstarter project and while we're a loooong way from reaching our goal, we're optimistic.

See, we've gotten one question more than any other, as we spread the AUTOCULT gospel here on Kickstarter: "Do you really need that much money to do this?" And we have one answer:


While we all love magazines, the business of bona-fide, newsstand magazines is not for the faint of heart. Especially when you work with some of the best talent in the business and don't skimp on paper, printing and are constantly working in new and emerging mediums to tell your stories. We're not merely in the business of magazines, we're in the business of storytelling. And to do that in the modern world with a well-developed habit of producing really high-quality stuff, it takes some serious cake. 

A little background: we publish a heavy magazine. Really. This sucker weighs a full pound. And when shipping companies that deliver AUTOCULT to the stores charge by weight, paper gets spendy. Not only that, but the stores take 40% of the cover price, our distributor takes 10% and we're left with 40% of the $12.00 cover price. And – get this – the stores have up to ONE YEAR to pay us for the copies they sold. Yep. One year. And the distributors use a fairly sketchy reimbursement method that basically guarantees we won't see but a mere few percentage points of the expenses we incurred to produce the issue. 

Now, I don't want to give you the wrong impression – I wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't a good idea: there's an unmet need on the newsstand for a magazine like this and a media brand like AUTOCULT. And we've got rabid fans and a loyal base of supporters for how we do what we do. But it takes time to build and grow this brand and we're still at this crucial stage of development.

So, $40,000 seems like a lot of money – and it is – but it's what we need to make what we've promised and not leave any commitments unfulfilled. We're telling stories that have never been told before. We're assembling a collection of moments in underground car culture that I promise will leave you inspired. We're providing a showcase for young, talented photographers and writers and artists and filmmakers who might never be seen by our growing audience otherwise. With the success of the AUTOCULT brand, we're also planning the launch of a fund that provides medical and personal care for the aging personalities and characters who contributed so much to car culture over the last half a century and need us to now give back a little and take care of them. And we're doing it all in spite of the forces of the magazine industry that work against the independent publisher in ways that stifle the free speech of the individual. Like I said in the video you just saw, "The only thing harder than publishing the premiere issue of a magazine is getting the second one out."

I sincerely hope you'll join us and help make the second issue of AUTOCULT a reality.

And here's a great San Francisco car culture moment: old friend, Champion Speed Shop owner and Bay Area hot rod ambassador, Jim McLennan heading up Hyde Street in San Francisco for a Castrol Motor Oil ad that appeared in magazines in the mid-Sixties. Thought you'd dig it!

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AUTOCULT update: sneak peek at the new cover, Estevan Oriol, Retna, Avonte Wright and the Mother Ship

We've had some fantastic activity from you, our backers, as of late and we welcome the newest members of our special advisory board:

Rob Keil
Laura Brazzaduro
Mike G.

Also, for the very first time EVAH, we're sneaking you, our faithful, a peek at the cover of this much-anticipated issue of AUTOCULT.

Shot by one of the members of the elite SA Studios collective near its super-secret downtown L.A. bunker, photographer Estevan Oriol does things with his trusty single-lens reflex that lesser photographers couldn't do with nine trucks of equipment and a major league team of assistants. Just goes to prove, it all comes down to raw talent.

One of the great things about EO is that he's created an entire cult of personality that just seems to materialize wherever he goes. In this case, we were shooting the one and only Avonte Wright with Royal Jokers car club member, Ruben Diaz,' 1973 Buick Riviera lowrider, "The Mother Ship" under a bridge by the L.A. River when famed street artist, Retna, just materialized on set.

See, this is one of the things we love about making AUTOCULT: yes, it's a car magazine, but it's so much more than that...when we can bring a photographer like Estevan Oriol, an artist like Retna, a model like TV personality Avonte Wright and an era-perfect lowrider like The Mother Ship all together. That much seemingly disparate art hasn't accumulated to make a car magazine cover in...oh, maybe...ever. We're blessed. Truly.

So, here are a few behind-the-scenes shots and a comp of the cover – it's a "working proof" without the final UPC code and there may be some subhead changes till we go to press, but the image is ready to go!

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The latest on AUTOCULT and photographer, Ken Nagahara!

As always, we want to do it like a Grammy acceptance speech and thank the latest to support the cause:

Bill Woodcock
Thomas Mast

Thanks, guys – glad to have you aboard and looking forward to working with you on some really great stuff in the future!

Now, on to an interesting project we're working on for this next issue that you're helping us with...

See, when you get involved with AUTOCULT, you're not just helping us get this issue to the stands, you're also helping a whole group of photographers, writers, illustrators and other contributors. We like to work with new talent as well as established artists and make this magazine a showcase for all of them. And with this issue, we're working with photographer, Ken Nagahara for the first time.

Ken is one of a handful of shooters making a name for himself in the wonderfully rich skater-chopper scene. See, several years ago, we saw a shift in the custom motorcycle world: gone were the days of the circus clown "theme" choppers that were all over the reality television shows and the goofy personalities who built – and were built by – them. A correction in the scene was taking place and the amazingly beautiful styles of choppers that were built from the late Fifties through the mid-Seventies were making a resurgence. Along with that correction came a real "do-it-yourself" ethos and the skateboarding faithful came along with it. Professional skateboarder and custom chopper builder, Max Schaaf, said about this new world, "These choppers are the retirement plan for old pro skaters." Kinda funny, but oh-so true.

Enter Ken. Making images for magazines like the skateboard bible, Thrasher, for years and naturally gravitating toward this great, new custom bike scene, I felt like it was only a matter of time till we worked with him. 

And that's exactly what we did for our feature on the new custom chopper/car, nay, art movement taking place in the notorious Richmond, CA area called "The Iron Triangle." A few shops run by really talented builders like Brandon Casquilho, Jasin Phares and Rolfe Brittain are attracting attention for the customized machines coming out of the warehouse they all share. We tapped Ken to document the feature we're producing on this enclave of movable art and we thought we'd give you a taste of what you can expect in this issue you're helping to build. 

See, in a way, you're a custom builder when you help us put this magazine together and release it to the world. Neat, huh?

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