I'm Brandon Bird, and I'm an artist living in Los Angeles. Driving around Southern California, I've often seen people use their vehicle as a memorial to a loved one who has passed away. Usually, this is a decal in the rear window, noting the person's date of birth and date of death. But there's also a much larger tradition of using the entire car as a surface for self-expression (here's a good article about one of the prime examples of lowrider art). I started thinking about the kind of art car I'd like to make. Who would I want the pay tribute to? The choice was obvious.
I would like to raise the money to:
1) Buy a used sedan (something big and American-made from the early 2000s, like a Crown Vic),
2) Hire some of Southern California's talented airbrush muralists, pinstripers, and body paint experts,
3) Work with those artists turn the sedan into a custom work of art dedicated to the late actor Jerry Orbach.
Q: But why Jerry Orbach?
Many years ago, I found myself in a rut--I was about to be unemployed, and the most exciting thing in my life were "Law & Order" marathons on TNT. But in Jerry Orbach's character of Detective Lennie Briscoe, I found a spark. Here was a man made weary by the world, who nonetheless persevered. His acerbic wit and hangdog attitude couldn't mask a natural warmth and kindness. I got off the couch, and put together an art show. I made a "Law & Order" coloring book, which was the first thing I ever did that became a viral hit, and that has snowballed into an entire career making ridiculous pop art. I owe a lot of good things in my life to Jerry Orbach.
His own life was also filled with kindness. He wrote a love note to his wife every day before heading to the set of "Law & Order," and he famously donated his corneas after passing away. If that's not the type of person we should be remembering through art, then who is?
Q: So what will this car look like?
A: Simply put... I don't know! Rather than being locked into a design I come up with, I want to rely on the input and creativity of the people who will actually be doing the work. The design will also be determined by budget. The minimum fundraising goal will cover an airbrushed mural of Jerry on the hood, a sparkly new-from-the-ground-up paint job, and some pinstriping flourishes. The more we raise over that minimum, the more intricate the design can become.
I also want to bring backers into the design process, using video updates to document the selection of the car and interview the artists involved.
I know "art car" might conjure images of a Santa Cruz hippie gluing Happy Meal toys all over their VW, but I want to assure you that what I'm going for is something sleek and beautiful, befitting both the art form and the subject. I want to make something as rad as Jerry Orbach.
Q: Hold on, are just trying to use Kickstarter to scam a free car?
A: Nope, I already have a car to get around in. This car will be driven as little as possible--mostly for cruise nights, auto shows, art events, and wherever else an Orbach car may be needed.
Q: Have you done a Kickstarter before?
A: Yes, I drove around the country and painted Sears. With that project, I'd say 50% of the rewards went out right on time, 30 or 40% were mailed within six months of their promised date, and then that last 10% or so were a year or more late (in Kickstarter terms, I'd say that rates a B or B+). Most of the late rewards were late because they involved the creation of individualized works of art. This time, almost all of the rewards are pre-designed and ready to be printed or manufactured pretty much as soon as the Kickstarter closes.
Q: So what are these rewards?
A: I'm glad you asked, because I think they're pretty good! A pledge of $6 will get you your choice of one of these four bumper stickers, and ten dollars gets you all four:
A $12 donation gets you this nifty suction cup placard:
$15 gets you a handsome laser-cut wood keychain:
$20 gets you this one-of-a-kind air freshener (it smells like roses!):
And $50 gets you the bumper stickers, placard, keychain, and air freshener together in one set.
$125 gets you the bumper stickers, placard, keychain, seven copies of the air freshener (so you'll always have a fresh backup), AND an exclusive T-shirt with this design:
Higher-end rewards start at $200 and include all of the goodies listed above plus things like a simulated ride-along via Skype and your name inscribed on the car itself like they do with donors to museums and such.
If you live in Southern California and have $450 to burn, I'll pick you up in the finished car and we'll go get a burger (again, you must live within 120 miles of Los Angeles to claim this reward, or be traveling there at some point in the near future--I can probably make your Orbach experience fit in with your summer vacation to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
Last and not least, $500 will get you... a jacket. Not just any jacket, but an ultra-exclusive, gold satin Jerry Orbach driving jacket, made with some help from my friends at Big Bud Press:
(And because Kickstarter doesn't like you making multiple donations, you can get the jacket and every other thing, plus a tiny piece of original art, for $1000.)
Q: Anything else you'd like to add to get me psyched for this project?
Risks and challenges
The biggest potential headache is that this involves a car, and cars can be giant money-drains, so I hope that I have budgeted appropriately for unexpected expenses.
The world of "car art" is also a new world for me to navigate, but so far, from talking to car owners and getting quotes from artists, I think that will be fun and interesting rather than challenging.
My previous Kickstarter experience taught me a lot about not overextending myself, and how to get rewards out more efficiently. One of the key things I wish I'd done better with that project was keeping the audience (i.e, you, the backers) more involved in the middle stages, that period between getting funded and completion. That's why I'm planning more video updates, bringing you into the studio (or garage, as it were).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)