Letting the creative juices flow

Interested in supporting the local arts? Kickstarter.com will let you put your money where your mouth is. Read on to learn more about this networking/fundraising site and the Richmond creators making use of it.

Artists, musicians, and other creators (from Richmond and across the nation) have stumbled upon a place that allows their project ideas to become reality — a place where the typical financial restraints, procrastination, and limited access to supporters do not exist.

This hub of creativity is called Kickstarter, a website designed to allow creators to present projects to the masses and request funding to help them achieve their goals.

“Kickstarter is really meant for anything that springs from the imagination,” said Kickstarter co-founder, Yancey Strickler. “It exists as a platform where people can use their networks and use the passion behind the work to get money to do the things that they want.”

Strickler said he and his fellow co-founders — Perry Chen and Charles Adler — have come to adopt a broad definition of creativity that ranges from fine art, film, and music to food, fashion, and video games..

The three founders, according to Strickler, began working on Kickstarter several years ago. They launched the site in April 2009 when they recognized the need for financial assistance during the courses of their own creative projects.

“It’s not like you can go get a loan for something like this,” Strickler said. “We just realized how hard it is to find money to do creative things.”

According to Strickler, creators must be based in the United States, however, donors can be from anywhere.

The Kickstarter site is also designed around an “all or nothing funding system,” Strickler said. Essentially,  a creator will make a profile explaining the project in addition to setting a financial goal for the amount in donations needed to complete their work. The creator will also have a limited time frame in which to reach their initial monetary proposal.

“Basically if someone reaches a goal that they set then everything happens — the credit cards are charged and they get their money, but if they come up short then no one is charged at all,” Strickler said. “We like this idea because we thought that it sort of had a fun, kind of game element — seeing whether or not someone is going to make it or not.”

Strickler said he, Chen, and Adler have found that the funding system is a much more efficient way to test project ideas because creators are not obligated to follow through unless they reach their goal. He said the system also generates more money for creators because there is a deadline to keep them from the natural inclination of procrastination.

Though it has been a little more than a year since the site launched, Strickler said in the first 14 months of Kickstarter’s existence, $10 million has been pledged to projects — $5 million in the last three months. He said about 1700 projects have been successfully funded so far, about 5,000 have launched overall, and the co-founders are adding about 300 new projects a week to the site.

Strickler said he and his fellow co-founders try to speak with every project creator before they join the site in order to help them “train” their idea in a way that will work efficiently on Kickstarter.

“It’s talking to people about their projects, helping people get going, spreading the word about Kickstarter as much as we can and it’s about helping people tell their stories,” Strickler said. “All of these projects are really stories of people chasing after something that they really want to do and we feel part of our job is to give them the best tools to do that and to help people to find out about it.”

Creators from the Richmond area are not passing up the opportunity to use Kickstarter to advance their projects, which include art sculptures, films, music compilations, and more.

RVANews spoke with three local creators currently on Kickstarter attempting to achieve their financial goals: Harrison Weber, a graphic designer; Charli Brissey, a filmmaker and dancer; and Paul Hugins, an independent filmmaker. Here they speak about their projects and their experiences on Kickstarter.

Stocky by Harrison Weber

Weber is a graphic designer at 501(c)ommunications and The Conciliation Project, while also serving as the head of Goodnite Design Co.

He grew up in several places including Florida, Connecticut, and Richmond, and attended The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

What first got you interested in graphic design?
I started designing for bands when I was a sophomore in high school. It was practical, and not very creative. I took my first art class my senior year, which led me to fully discover my love of painting and design.

What are your artistic inspirations?
Graphic design falls somewhere between art and business, and my inspirations are always on the artistic side. I love the work of Stina Persson, Yvette Molina, and also the posters of Milton Glassier.

Do you have a specific stylistic element that is consistent within your work?
I try to balance my work between order and disorder. I also love to keep an organic feel in my work.

Can you describe the idea behind your current Kickstarter project?
In the most basic sense, “Stocky” aims to be a place for creators to upload, collaborate, and develop their work (photos, videos, illustrations, brushes, etc.) within a community of like-minded creators.

What gave you the idea?
Because I work closely with developers and programmers, I am able to see the community development that occurs in the open source world. I feel that designers can benefit from the camaraderie that comes with sharing and collaborating with others.

How did you hear about Kickstarter?
I knew a little about Kickstarter before the launch of Diaspora, but my main exposure is from their campaign.

What feedback have you gotten so far?
I have gotten a lot of great support, but I feel that most of my potential supporters don’t even know about the project yet! That is why I am trying my best to get in touch with anyone interested in supporting a local project that can help designers and small businesses.

The Maeko Film Project by Charli Brissey

Brissey is a dancer/filmmaker and box office assistant at The Grace Street Theater.

Originally from College Park, Maryland, Brissey said she spent most of her life in King George, Virginia. She spent her first two years of college at Sweet Briar College, a private all-girls college in Lynchburg, before coming to VCU after three years of auditioning for the Department of Dance and Choreography.

What first got you interested in dance/filmmaking?
I have danced and had a video camera in my hand all my life. I was often yelled at for taping in class growing up and I even convinced by third grade English teacher to let me make a movie of “The Giver” instead of taking the exam. As for dancing, it’s just in my bones. I’ve always felt the most at home when I’m in motion.

What are your artistic inspirations?
I suppose I really just aspire for freedom and for the freedom of others. Simply the freedom for everyone to be able to be themselves, but more importantly, the freedom for everyone to get to figure out what that even is.

Do you have a specific stylistic element that is consistent within your work?
I generally try to be fairly objective in my work. I’m not really trying to push my opinions or beliefs on others, in general, I really just want to present a thought-provoking situation that gives people an opportunity to think for themselves and to make intelligent decisions.

Can you describe the idea of this project?
The idea of this project is basically the beginning of what I said above. I feel this will be a life-long endeavor, but this specific project is step one. The project that opens the door… I hobble out with a few dollars, a video camera, and my knapsack… yikes.

What gave you the idea?
I kept having the same conversation over and over with different people and realized that the conversations kept ending the same… answerless. I looked around and there just seemed to be walls everywhere that no one could get through, and just a lot of complaining. I guess I just wanted to do something. I started by interviewing people and just getting them to talk. I’ve been choreographing video-dance insertions and I planned some trips out of the country. I’m just going to keep traveling and filming and asking questions.

How did you hear about Kickstarter?
I actually heard about Kickstarter from a friend of mine, Parker, who most people know as the crazy and fabulous MC for RVALUTION. Parker is actually heading to Peru with me in November as a part of the Maeko Film Project. We’ll be traveling to Machu Picchu and ending in Iquitos at the Temple of the Way of Light.

What feedback have you gotten so far?
People have been very sweet, generous, and supportive. I know it’s a hard time right now for everyone, so I’m not expecting people to turn over millions. Really the emotional support is equally as awesome, however things to cost money so I’ve got to get it. It’s funny because with this specific film project, the support is actually sort of the reason behind the film also. There’s a part of me that wants to be filming people while they push the little “pledge” button.

“Applications,” a 16 mm short by Paul Hugins

Hugins is an independent filmmaker who recently graduated from VCU with a degree in filmmaking and currently living and working in Richmond.

He was originally born in Florida but because his father works for the Foreign Service Department, Hugins grew up in areas within the United States, Mexico, South Africa and Germany.

Hugins attended one year at the University of Florida, but received his degree from VCU.

What first got you interested in film/filmmaking?
What got me interested in filmmaking simply is a love for movies and storytelling. I’m very passionate about cinema and really just love it down to my very core. So much so that film has become a bit of an obsession really, but it’s one I love so no complaints.

What are your artistic inspirations?
Clearly there’s a lot of cinema that’s inspired me. Filmmakers ranging from Martin Scorsese to Alfred Hitchcock to Hideaki Anno and even to some of my peer student filmmakers who have really made some great work. I have a weakness for the works of Stephen King and have longed to replicate one of his works but also I have an interest in Gustav Klimt’s work and would love to one day try and make a film sequence that looks like one of his paintings.

Do you have a specific stylistic element that is consistent within your work?
Well, seeing as how my body of work is relatively small at the moment I think the most uniform stylistic element in my films is my off-beat humor. I find a lot of really odd things to be hilarious and I’d say while no one else would classify them as such, most of my films so far have been comedies. But of course they’re only comedies to me.

Can you describe the idea of this project?
Using a Martin Scorsese short as a launching point, I hope to make a piece featuring a beautiful woman in her late 30s or early 40s, who sits down at her vanity mirror and applies makeup to be “beautiful”. Yet, after each successful layer of makeup she finds her confidence is diminished by images of “True Beauty” i.e. girls in the latest edition of Maxim, Victoria’s Secret, etc. This woman is so disheartened by not living up to what popular beauty is that in a parody of self-improvement she performs plastic surgery on herself.

With “Applications” I hope to showcase my talents as a filmmaker, enter the film into several film festivals, and ultimately create something that can grab people’s attention and hopefully engage some conversations.

What gave you the idea?
Martin Scorsese is a legend and inspiration for filmmakers all around the world. Entranced by his 1967 short “The Big Shave” I was hoping to do both homage to that work of art and comment on an issue close to my heart- being overly self-conscious about yourself physically.

I started looking around at his work and looking at this short of his – “The Big Shave” I realized it was small, affordable, and open to interpretation.

How did you hear about Kickstarter?
I think I saw it on Cinematical, a film news website.

What feedback have you gotten so far?
Uh, I know my sister likes it. And I’ve wooed some people into crew positions.

For more information about these and other local artists looking to do great things (and who are in need of your help!), visit the Kickstarter website.

(Image courtesy of Harrison Weber.)

  • error

    Report an error

Erica Terrini

Erica Terrini is a contributing writer for RVANews and currently attends Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is also the executive editor for The Commonwealth Times. During her time in Richmond, she has gotten used to running around like a crazy person with a never-ending checklist in her pursuit to report the local news of a thriving, raw, and pretty fly city.

There is 1 reader comment. Read it.