Guest Post: What I Learned from Crowdfunding

Today's post comes to us via the seriously RAD metalworker Leslie Tharp, who shared her insights about her crowdfunding campaign. Check out Leslie's Kickstarter campaign HERE. (Hurry! Today is the last day to support this lovely project.) kickstarter portrait

My name is Leslie Tharp and I create large metal sculptures. My current project, Lift, is a metal hot air balloon inspired installation created for exhibition in Scottsdale, Arizona at Belle Art in February 2014. The balloons will be created by suspending metal rings. Below each balloon will be a bench, inspired by the basket of a hot air balloon, and created with hot woven metal in the same weaving pattern as a balloon basket. 

This will be the biggest piece I’ve ever created. It will be installed far from my home in Florida. And, it’s the first time I’ve turned to crowdfunding to raise money to help me create my work.

I’m currently wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign to help me raise funds to create this piece, and I’ve learned A LOT of lessons along the way! Here are some of them...

IT TAKES PLANNING. Planning out how I wanted to present the project itself took weeks. It’s best to have a really defined vision and goal so your backers know what they’re supporting. Make it clear; make it honest. 

IT TAKES TIME. Just collecting footage, images, and editing the video for the project site took me weeks. The video is the inspiration for your backers, so it’s definitely worth working on, and a second set of eyes is always helpful for these things.

IT TAKES COMMUNICATION. Be prepared to talk a lot. I’ve spent hours upon hours every single day talking with people about the project making sure I communicate its value to me, as well as my appreciation of their support.

IT TAKES PEOPLE. It really takes a lot of people to make this happen. Utilize all the social media outlets you have, and try to get some media attention. You’ve got to get the word out! Nothing compares to speaking with people one-on-one about what you’re trying to do.

IT’S NOT KICKSTARTER. IT’S YOU! Kickstarter is a tool. It's a platform for artists to fundraise for their own projects. This is a tremendous asset for not only the artists but for those who support the arts, those who can now invest in the work they want to see brought into the world! It’s pretty damn empowering, so use it to your advantage. Ultimately it’s YOU that’s making this happen!

IT CHANGED MY APPROACH TO MAKING ART. Out of all the changes that have happened throughout this project the biggest one has been my approach to my art practice. The act of opening up and asking for help to create Lift has required me to grow as both an artist and a person. Every step of this has forced me to get out of my own way, and to stop doubting myself and my goals. I’ve really had to step out of my comfort zone and develop confidence for my work.

JUST GO FOR IT! It’s good to get ready, but in the end just jump in and try it out! I promised myself last year that I would stop telling myself no, that if I was going to really push my career into new territory I was going to hear plenty of no's, so I would need to be the voice of YES. I’ve really had to test that promise during this project, and have faith that this work is worth asking for support to create.

You can see more about my project at Kickstarter.com and LeslieTharp.com

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 8.14.56 AMLeslie Tharp is a female metalworker who utilizes both traditional and modern metalworking techniques to create both large public sculptures and unique home accessories. Leslie received her BFA from the University of Florida in 2008. Driven by her philosophy that art is for everyone and should be everywhere she has been working to create public artist ever since. See more of her work at LeslieTharp.com (Photo by Dale Gunnoe.)

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