Sometimes art is as much about money as it is about creativity.
And just like having the skill that's required to create, you either have the funds or you don't to make your project a reality.
If it's the latter, it has historically meant hitting up friends or family for money, landing a grant, or even taking out a loan. But that's changing thanks to a relatively new phenomenon on the Internet called crowdfunding, which allows artists to take their pleas for financial assistance to potentially millions of possible investors.
Kickstarter.com is one of several funding platforms for creative projects on the Web, including ArtistShare, Indiegogo, Pledge Music, and GoFundMe. Launched in April, 2008, Kickstarter is also the biggest, with more than $285 million pledged to projects on the site -- films, albums, theatrical productions, graphic novels -- with more than 26,000 of those successfully funded, several of which are for Toledo-area projects.
Investors pledge money through credit cards to bring a project to life. A project has a deadline of one to 60 days to be funded. If the project is successfully funded, it goes. If not, the credit cards are not charged, the project fails, and the artist has the option to try again.
Kickstarter makes its money through a 5 percent fee if the project is funded, while Amazon Payments takes a 3 to 5 percent cut of the total funds raised for processing the transaction.
Local rock band Frank & Jesse relied on Kickstarter to determine if there was enough interest in the band releasing a vinyl version of its first CD, "Let it Come Down." Theater group Second Stages Toledo successfully relied on Kickstarter last year to cover the production costs of staging Jason Robert Brown's musical Songs for a New World and this year for several performances of the 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee.
"For us it successfully gave us a way to sell tickets without a way to manage a box office," said Jared Lefevre, cofounder of Second Stages Toledo along with his wife, Amelia. "This year we would be OK without it, but last year, I don't know how we would have handled ticket sales [with out-of-town and credit card payments] if we didn't have Kickstarter."
Kickstarter is also changing the way artists get their projects made. A recent article from Publishers Weekly suggests the site is now the second-biggest publisher of graphic novels in the industry.
Local comic-book scribe Dirk Manning said much of Kickstarter's association with graphic novels can be traced back to Womanthology -- a massive all-female graphic novel anthology by Renae De Liz, who previously worked with Manning on his Nightmare World series. De Liz had the idea to crowdfund through Kickstarter. She wanted $20,000 to fund it and cover printing costs, but when word spread about her project, including to very established comic creators such as Neil Gaiman, she finished with 2,001 backers and raised nearly $110,000. Womanthology's success brought recognition throughout the comic-book industry.
"Here is this relatively unknown young artist in Renae [who] single-handedly created this massive book that got people really excited about it. And I think that's really the book that more than anything else turned people on to Kickstarter as crowdfunding for comics," Manning said. "And now everybody talks about doing it. Whenever someone talks about making a comic they're going to Kickstarter.
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