Kickstarter Provides Opportunities for Artists

Funding artwork is no small task, and there are a multitude of options for artists to choose from. There are grants, government resources, and more. Increasingly, artists are taking to the Internet to use of crowd-sourced funding services. One website providing that kind of model is Kickstarter.

While Kickstarter isn't new, it has been rapidly rising in popularity over the last year. Just this year, there have already been fourteen successful projects featured on MassArt's curated Kickstarter page. This page is a place to feature work from MassArt students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

Recent graduate Ryan Arthurs, '12 (MFA, photography), managed a particularly successful Kickstarter campaign. He raised more than $15,000 for his project – 29 percent more than his goal. Arthurs is heading to Canada to canoe the George River. The photos he takes on the adventure will be turned into a book.

He first got the idea to use Kickstarter in a graduate level course last fall. He proposed the project in October, started blogging about it in February, and launched it on Kickstarter in April.

But getting to the launch is just the beginning. According to Kickstarter, about 41 percent of the projects on its site fail. Failure means no money is paid out. So it was crucial to Arthurs that he ensured the project's success.

"We adjusted our expectations to make sure we were going to achieve funding," he said. "I had the benefit of five other guys going on the trip with me, so with all of their friends and family and networks my support base was extended. In addition to social media, we were fortunate to get a few press articles written about it."

Along the way, Arthurs constantly updated his blog and the Kickstarter page.

"It was a fulltime job in addition to doing my thesis," he said. "You need to have a web presence every day."

In retrospect, Arthurs said it was still a very ambitious project, and he's not sure if he would do it again – at least not for that amount. His experience is in line with the site overall. According to Kickstarter, successful projects average $5,487, while failed projects average a goal of $16,365. MassArt projects have raised anywhere from $600 to $56,000.  If you would like to be included on the curated MassArt Kickstarter page, email your name and a link to the project to