Learn how Tina Mammoser’s Kickstarter art project hit stretch goals.
[Editor's note: I have known Tina Mammoser and and admired her art and her numerous contributions to the art community since meeting her on WetCanvas.com many years ago. In this guest post, she shares insights and details on her encouraging, remarkable story of how she successfully managed her Kickstarter art project and surpassed two stretch goals in the process.]
Previous Kickstarter Experience Helps
Having run a Kickstarter campaign for a friend’s first film, I knew some ins and outs and had done quite a lot of research. I knew crowdfunding could be an interesting and most importantly, engaging, way to fund a project. However, it actually took me a while to work out my own project—something different and interesting enough to not just be everyday art fundraising.
While working on a business mentoring scheme called New Creative Markets, over about 4 months I brainstormed and planned where I wanted to go with my work.
Three things kept getting written down:
- Moving to the coast (which has been on the wishlist for a decade)
- Strengthening the art/science tie in my work; bringing my love of geology and astronomy into the studio practice
- Opening a gallery
When I finally got to the crowdfunding workshop (with Henrietta Norton, founder of wedidthis.org.uk) everything seemed to fall into place.
On an artist’s income, the decision to move cross-country was an obviously scary financial venture. And “Fund me to move my studio” isn’t a good enough proposal for backers.
Moreover, I also wanted to really launch into the new side of art/science in my work and London was too limiting. (Unfortunately, London is not particularly renowned for its geology or astronomy in the urban light pollution.)
Personal Experience Plays a Part in Kickstarter Success
My background for both goals was strong. I’d been cycling and walking the coastline for my painting for almost 10 years now. It was easy to narrow down the candidates for new homes.
I already had a system of three sketchbooks in place—seacoast, geology, and astronomy—but never felt comfortable combining them. Recently I’d been invited to start giving art and astronomy talks—just combining topics I loved because I loved them. So if I moved somewhere with more geology and astronomy communities that side of the practice could have a chance to grow.
“Sea, Sky, and Stone” was drafted to achieve the first two goals in one project: moving my studio to the Yorkshire coast by means of sharing a unique sketchbook combining my art, geology and star drawings.
Kickstarter Success Takes Time & Energy
Doing my own Kickstarter project, I learned the most exhausting thing is promoting it. It was a gruelling 30-day schedule of blogs, social media posts, newsletters and personal emails. I decided to have a 3-tier approach on launch day.
First, I personally emailed all my VIPs—not just collectors, but people who have continually supported my career as an artist over the years—and asked them to share news of the campaign. Note that I did not ask them to pledge, just to help spread the word. And they were awesome at that!
12 hours later, I sent a newsletter to my mailing list subscribers and gave them a special head start on the campaign too. Lastly, it was announced on social media and my blog. I’d say having your own existing support network is crucial—both for financial backing and word of mouth. By the end of the first day, my VIPs alone got me to 50% of my goal. I was fully funded within 3 days. Flabbergasted is the only word to describe how I felt!
Passionate Supporters Pushed Project Higher
Some very staunch supporters insisted I keep the energy up and go for way more. So I added stretch goals. With their help, I came up with other reward ideas to add that were cool but wouldn’t cost me much. (Not spending all your fundraising on the rewards and postage is vital!)
In addition to screenprints and videos, my favourite “stretch” goal idea was to send fossils with the finished books. I love fossil hunting on the stretch of coast around Saltwick Bay, just north of where I’ve moved. I can’t believe I’m giving a reward that is really a fun excuse to go hit rocks with a hammer.
One amazing supporter kept bumping me to the next goal when I got close. At first I chided her but gave up because she kept sneaking in and pledging again anyway. She’ll soon realise what a crazy artist she’s enabled!
Kickstarter Art Project Success Tips
So here are my top tips for starting on your crowdfunding project:
- Research, research, research. Get ready to create a giant page of info. Go through and research successful projects in your field and ones with a similar product but maybe in another creative industry. Write down their target, their reward levels, their reward items, their description, their images, watch the video and jot down an outline of it. Write down bits or phrases that really jumped out at you. Most importantly: find projects that really interest you after reading/watching their page, and figure out what they said or did that got you smiling.
- Now… support that project! Top tip from my mentor was to become a supporter yourself. Get a feel for how it works, how you pledge, what kind of updates you like to receive. By taking part, you can tell what makes you feel special, what you enjoy about the project, and how to do that in your own campaign. Most campaigns you can support starting with $1. Warning: supporting is addicting!
- So now why did you support that project? What was in it for you? Supporters are clever and they know it’s really about you. But you still need to write a pitch that makes it involving for them. What are they getting that is totally unique? What are you giving back, perhaps to your community or other artists? Best comment I’ve seen online about crowdfunding is, “Don’t just ask me to fund your dream; I could go fund my dream.”
Excitement and Enthusiasm Carry the Day
Most of all, just do something that gets you excited. By the time I was ready to launch you couldn’t shut me up. (sorry everyone)
Oh, and that third goal of mine? Working on that. My campaign is actually just the start of a three-year project. Next year will be working on a second book where I’ll commission and involve other artists and scientists with their drawings. 2016 is the planned date to launch an art/science-themed gallery specialising in drawings. In the seaside town of Scarborough where there is little high-end art scene. Heck, I like a challenge! Oh, wait. I should shut up now.
[Editor's Note: My takeaways from this fascinating Kickstarter art project success story are these:
- Be intensely passionate about your project
- Make your rewards valuable and compelling
- Start with a tribe—it does not have to be large—Tina succeeded with 93 backers
Combine those elements into your Kickstarter art project campaign with Tina's other invaluable advice to give yourself the best odds for success with it.]
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