Crowdfunding is a way of raising money for a specific project or event by asking for small donations from many people, usually online. Crowdfunding can be a great option for visual artists who want to fund their creative work, reach new audiences, and build a community of supporters.
However, crowdfunding is not easy or suitable for every project. It requires a lot of planning, promotion, and communication with potential backers. It also involves choosing the right platform, setting a realistic goal, and offering attractive rewards.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the benefits and challenges of crowdfunding for visual artists in the UK and share some tips and resources to help you succeed.
Benefits of crowdfunding for visual artists
Crowdfunding can offer several advantages for visual artists, such as:
- Funding your project without relying on traditional sources of funding, such as grants, loans, or galleries.
- Testing the market and validating your idea before investing too much time and money into it.
- Building a fan base and engaging with your audience directly and personally.
- Increasing your visibility and exposure online and offline.
- Developing new skills and learning from other successful campaigns.
Challenges of crowdfunding for visual artists
Crowdfunding can also pose some difficulties for visual artists, such as:
- Finding a suitable platform that matches your project and audience. There are many different crowdfunding platforms available, each with its own features, fees, and rules. Some are more focused on arts and culture, while others are more general or niche. Some examples of popular platforms for visual artists in the UK are Art Happens, Crowdfunder, Kickstarter, and Patreon.
- Setting a realistic and achievable goal that covers all the costs of your project, including the platform fees, the rewards production and delivery, the taxes, and any unexpected expenses. You also need to consider the duration of your campaign and the best time to launch it.
- Creating a compelling pitch that showcases your project, your story, and your vision. You need to have a clear and concise description of what you are doing, why you are doing it, how you are doing it, and what you are offering in return. You also need to have a catchy title, a captivating video, and high-quality images.
- Offering attractive rewards that appeal to your backers and reflect your project’s value. Rewards are the incentives that you offer to your backers in exchange for their pledges. They can be physical or digital products, services, experiences, or acknowledgements. Rewards should be relevant, creative, exclusive, and deliverable.
- Promoting your campaign widely and consistently across different channels and platforms. You need to spread the word about your project to as many people as possible, using social media, email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, press releases, events, etc. You also need to update your backers regularly on your progress and challenges and thank them for their support.
Crowdfunding platforms are websites that host your campaign and collect the pledges from your supporters. They usually charge a fee, or a percentage of the money raised.
There are different types of crowdfunding platforms, such as:
All-or-nothing: You set a funding target and a deadline. If you don’t reach your target by the deadline, you don’t get any money and your supporters get refunded. Examples: Kickstarter, Crowdfunder.
Keep-it-all: You keep whatever money you raise, regardless of whether you reach your target or not. Examples: GoFundMe, JustGiving, FundRazr.
Subscription-based: You offer ongoing rewards or content to your supporters who pledge a regular amount of money per month or per creation. Examples: Patreon, Ko-fi, Podia.
Some examples of successful crowdfunding campaigns by UK visual artists are:
Marc Wilson’s The Last Stand, a photography project documenting the physical remnants of war in the UK and Europe. He raised £21,649 from 425 backers on Kickstarter in 2012.
Sophie Giblin’s Kollectiv Gallery, a pop-up gallery showcasing emerging artists in Brighton. She raised £5,000 from 113 backers on Crowdfunder in 2014.
Deborah Curtis’s House of Fairy Tales, a travelling art circus for children and families. She raised £25,000 from 263 backers on Art Happens in 2015.
Cancer sucks, Art Heals! This project created memorable experiences through art for children touched by cancer. It was led by print artist Shauna McGowan and raised £10,000 from 100 backers on Indiegogo in 2015.