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Breaking You and Your Kickstarter Out of the Art Bubble

Most artists seek out other artists and creative types. No one really “gets you” like another artist. It’s how we find colleagues, mentors, and friends. The time I spend with other artists is some of the most special time I have. The desire and advantages of participating in art communities in person and online are both huge and easy to understand.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to find other artists. It’s so easy, in fact, that you can create a world for yourself that’s almost exclusively art friends, and before you know it, you find yourself in an art bubble. Your social media will be filled with amazing pictures that both inspire you and occasionally make you want to quit. You will begin to think everyone is in the process of making their own intellectual property, and that everyone’s doing a Kickstarter.

And when you’re ready to do your own Kickstarter, or any big release, you will find yourself selling to other artists and the art communities you participate in. Don’t get me wrong, most artists are also art lovers and art buyers, but that only goes so far. The support from art friends and family will only go so far. Other artists, while very supportive in many ways, are also out there trying to sell their own art.

It’s time to get out of the Art Bubble!


Before we go any further, I want to be clear: I fully support participating in art communities both online, in your local area, and at cons. I love all my artist friends, and do not want to suggest that the support, love, and knowledge we share is in any way diminished. I NEED my artist friends, and you do, too, but it’s also important to have other interests.

Participate in Non-Art Communities

As a member of a community, we offer the valuable service of being able to visually interpret the needs and feelings of our communities. This has been the role of artists throughout time. It’s the power of art. We communicate visually.

It’s both healthy and empowering to relate to and be a part of non-art groups. As much as I love my art friends, I also love the perspective of my scientist, teacher, and hard-working corporate-type friends. Different viewpoints are great, and when you participate in a community, you find that all the different personalities come together to form a whole. Community can give your creativity and your art, purpose.

This is not to say that you should go dig up a lucrative community to mine. This can’t be a goal motivated by sales. Just like networking, the key is being genuine. You must be a part of the community. You have to be all in.

Tell A Story

When the time comes to share your product with your community, you will need to tell the product’s story. “Brand Narrative" is a buzz word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s a real thing and it works, but I think it’s more natural for artists to talk in terms of story. As artists, we're naturally drawn to telling stories. Storytelling doesn’t stop with picture making. Your Kickstarter project also has a story. Find it and tell it.

If you’re having trouble finding the story, ask yourself, “Why should my project exist?”

Not “Why do I want to make it,” or “How am I going to sell this,” but “Why should it exist?”

Your community can often help you answer these questions. The communities I participate in are known for being opinionated. I’ve never had to wonder where my art stands within the group. Whether or not it resonates with the group is usually readily apparent.

I’ll use the short blurb from my two personal Kickstarter Campaigns to show the difference:

1) Norse Mythology Series by Sam Flegal - Binding of Loki (May 2014)

A personal series of NORSE MYTHOLOGY-themed oil paintings from artist Sam Flegal with prints for collectors and fans. 

2) Fateful Signs: The Illustrated Havamal (March 2016)

A meditation on the wisdom of the ancient Norse text, "The Havamal," through over 40 ink drawings that reflect its poetry.

In less than 135 characters you should be able to see the difference. The first says, “I have Norse Mythology paintings for sale.” The second is, “A meditation on Norse poetry.” The first one was also very “me” centric. It was all about what I was doing as an artist. The second was more about relating to the community and what I could do for the community.

“Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community!”

To push this further, look at the opening paragraphs:

1) Norse Mythology Series by Sam Flegal - Binding of Loki (May 2014)

Hello, My name is Sam Flegal

My goal with this Kickstarter is to create a new painting in my Norse Myth series called "The Binding of Loki." In return for your continued support, I will be offering prints and originals from my Norse Myth series including a Kickstarter FIRST printing of "The Binding of Loki."

2) Fateful Signs: The Illustrated Havamal (March 2016)

Fateful Signs is what Odin saw as he hung from the World Tree. They are the legends of the Gods and Ancestors carried down through our deeds. They can be sought with runes, carved and made red.

Fateful Signs presents "The Illustrated Hávamál," a collection of art by Sam Flegal. This 104-page book explores the meaning behind the ancient collection of Norse wisdom through a series of meditative ink drawings.

To be fair, my older campaign did get funded, and I had the support of a lot of great people, but the difference is clear. People get excited by stories, and excitement is exactly what you want to harness for a great Kickstarter Campaign. Tell the story of your community in a way that resonates with them because you are one of them, and watch as your community stands with you.

You can read more about my latest Kickstarter story HERE


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