Crowdfunding Creativity

 Crowdfunding for Artists

chalkboard with crowdfunding your creativity text
Crowdfunding Your Creativity - A Masterclass in the art of crowdfunding...

Financing your art and your art career can be a challenge and especially when you want to tackle major projects, but there are ways that you can do it without having to visit or even break the bank! This week, we’re going to delve into the subject of crowdfunding and whether or not there is any merit in setting up a campaign as a visual artist.

A golden era of crowdfunding…

Whenever I speak with new artists, the subject of crowdfunding always seems to spring up. It’s not surprising, it’s a concept that has become huge over the past couple of years, and more and more creators are making a great living through platforms such as Patreon.

Whether they are creating artworks or producing podcasts or film, creators can utilise the power of these platforms to monetise what they do so that they can continue to do it, and hopefully, fund new projects or pay themselves a living wage. While there are plenty of examples of creators being able to support their work through crowdfunding, there are even more stories about crowdfunding projects that fell at the first fence, usually through a lack of planning rather than the pitches being inherently bad.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, crowdfunding is literally what it says on the tin. Think of it like you had an idea in the pub on Saturday night and all of your friends and a few interested strangers each chipped in the money to make your idea happen. Well, sort of. There’s quite a bit more to crowdfunding than coming up with a drunken idea in the pub on a Saturday night, although looking through the Kickstarter website, there are more than a few that might have been dreamed up in a pub on Saturday night.

You get the idea, but the question is, does crowdfunding really work? For some, it’s the gateway to putting ideas into practice and going on to great things with whatever the idea is. For the majority though, it’s an exercise in completing an online form and watching the days remaining to fund the project tick away while everyone ignores it. That is an avoidable problem, for the most part, you just need a campaign that sticks and resonates with people so that they become excited enough to back it. That though is the hard part but it’s not an insurmountable problem if you plan ahead.

high street coffee and cake shop artwork
I'm slowly creating an entire high street of shops that would have been present in the eighties, a time when high streets were high streets, with real shops that took real money! Available now on my Fine Art America and Pixels stores!

What Crowdfunding Isn’t…

Crowdfunding isn’t the golden unicorn that many think it is. It takes a heap of planning and hard work along with a robust plan and a strategy that people will want to buy into. Neither is it something that will fund your poor life choices, if people are pledging money, they usually expect something in return. Crowdfunding your Caribbean island and a fleet of private jets isn’t something that people generally buy into which frankly, is a bit of a shame because we’ve only had a week of sun in the UK so far this year.

There are more projects that never get the funding in place than there projects that do, yet crowdfunding is often seen as the one thing that will solve the funding issues that many start ups have. The reality is that there are many ways that funding to set up new art projects can be raised, it’s just that some of them seem at first to be far more complicated than signing up to a crowdfunding platform that themselves are becoming increasingly picky about the projects that they now actually allow to go forward.

So rather than seeing crowdfunding as the goose that will lay the golden egg, it’s much better to think of it as a mechanism of raising some, but not necessarily all of the capital needed to bring an idea and potentially even a business to fruition.

Crowded Crowdfunding…

The crowdfunding eco-system is much more crowded today than it was just a couple of years ago. There are a heap of projects that initially look like they could be great ideas, but dig underneath the surface, a little and you’ll find that there are a lot of projects that seem more like impossible dreams than tangible ideas that could come to something. I can’t even count up the number of projects I have seen listed on crowdfunding sites over the years where the creator wants to build the new Facebook, or an app that could cost millions of dollars more to produce than the ten buck target, they think it will cost.

The number of impossible projects mean that whatever you do has to be better than any similar project on the respective platform, and it also means that you still have to do those crazy things like coming up with a marketing strategy that resonates with the audience so that they feel compelled and excited enough to back it. Usually, this means spending weeks, maybe even months, putting everything in place in the way of marketing your idea so that you can go into the challenge with a strong proposition and ideally some people already willing to back it.

Buying into your dream…

If there is one thing I always recommend to new artists, it is to have a level of self-belief that is infectious. If you don’t believe in your idea then it’s very likely that no one else will buy into your idea either. It has always been the case that people buy into the artist just as much and often, more than the art. I think the same is very true with crowdfunding a start-up project or business too.

What you are essentially doing is asking a bunch of strangers to buy into your vision and your dream, and not everyone will. This means that you have to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of your pitch, a passion for what you want to achieve, and you need a plan that makes it simple to work out the benefits of backing it, not necessarily the benefits of the product or in this case, the artwork you want to create.

You will need to lay out as much information as you can, not just about what the end result will be, but about you and the kind of person you are. Many backers won’t even consider buying into a project if they can’t buy into you.

Art supply shop artwork, shop window artwork
Oh My Gogh Art Supplies... one of my latest high street creations is available now from my Fine Art America and Pixels stores... The Art Supply Shop by Mark Taylor

Not everyone will connect with your hopes and dreams…

As with any business, when it comes to seeking any kind of funding for your hopes and dreams, there will be those who hold the purse strings who just don’t connect with your idea or even see your vision. It can be quite hard for anyone with such passion for a project to believe that not everyone will share your excitement, and there will be some who might even have an opinion or two about your idea that they will want you to hear and it won’t always be sugar-coated.

Crowdfunding can be much more like testing the water to see how hot or cold the idea or product is than it is about raising capital. If few are receptive to your idea, you have to be prepared to change the idea, adapt it, or maybe even put it to one side. On the positive side, this is also a great way to figure out if your product has legs, and any ideas to improve on your idea might even make more backers want to buy in and improve your project even more.

Do your research…

If you are pitching an idea for an art project that has been unsuccessfully pitched by others a hundred times before without success, you have to make sure that your pitch hits the spot that the others never found. That means knowing who the audience for the project is, whether or not there is a need for it, and focus on casting the net towards those who are more likely to buy into your idea. Casting the net far and wide might get you a few causal backers but a handful of backers is rarely enough.

If you can pitch to the right audience, they’re much more likely to back you, and they’re much more likely to remain with you if you encounter any delays. In my experience, major art projects can and very often will overrun and likely need some level of contingency funding identified, so if you can find an audience who will remain engaged throughout any delays, perhaps because they understand some of the issues that can arise from big art projects, it will make the process so much easier.

Will your current buyers back you?

We’ll come on to some of the other funding options shortly, but the success of any crowdfunding exercise is often predicated on there already being a level of social proof in support of either you, what you do, who you are and the project itself to some extent. As artists, we’re used to social proof, making our sales known helps potential buyers feel more confident in purchasing your work because there is demonstratable proof that you already have a track record of selling your work.

If you can leverage your existing network to at least offer some initial backing, it will show other backers some of the social proof that they need to feel a little more comfortable about backing you. The power of we’re all in this together has never been more apparent than over the past year and a half or so, and if you can demonstrate that there are people who trust you enough to back you, this will often encourage others to contribute to the campaign.

The reality of crowdfunding is that most of your backers won’t necessarily come via the crowdfunding platform, they will come as a result of any marketing efforts you make. Think of it as a similar model to print on demand, and if you are already selling your art via those kinds of platforms, you will already be familiar with the concept that the platforms are merely a transactional mechanism rather than a promotion machine.

I’m sad to say that anyone who thinks that crowdfunding is some kind of magical gravy train requiring a zero marketing effort on your part is very likely to be sorely disappointed with the results. Organic backers will only ever come through the platform once they start to stumble across social proof and then become excited enough to seek your project out. You might be lucky and get a handful who just happen to find you, but this isn’t an approach that generally means that you will meet your target.

Selecting the right crowdfunding platform…

This is another area that can make the difference between a successful and a not-so-successful campaign. Each of the many and varied crowdfunding platforms generally exist to do the same thing, but for very different purposes.

Kickstarter, for example, is more about physical products than the arts, but other platforms might have a more varied mix of startup projects. That’s not to say that selecting any one platform over another will mean that your project will fail, but each platform will attract backers who are more attracted to the projects more attuned or familiar with a particular platform. Kickstarter does still have art projects, but you might find that another platform will have a better fit with the project you are trying to get off the ground.

Every day, new projects will spring up on each of the platforms and you might find that there are few arts related projects at the time you visit, go back the next day and multiple art projects may have been added. These platforms really do change considerably day to day, so you really do have to carry out a little research prior to deciding which platform might suit your project better, and just because a platform is generally seen as being

Another consideration is that each platform has its own set of rules for running campaigns. Some platforms will require you to reach your goal prior to receiving any of the pledged funding, other platforms will allow you to access the funding as it comes in, and each platform will have its own set of fees that you will need to consider, each taking a cut of whatever you raise. Bear in mind too that in some territories, taxation could also be a factor.

As I said earlier, some of the platforms are beginning to become pickier about the kind of projects they will allow you to post on their platforms with each changing the rules occasionally which is something you need to keep an eye on. It goes without saying that falling foul of any of the rules and regulations on any of the platforms will see you and your project booted off and in some cases, not even arriving at the starting blocks.

The TV Shop artwork, shop window artwork, TV and video store art,
The TV Shop by Mark Taylor - I can't tell you how much nostalgia came flooding back to me while I was creating this! Available now on my Fine Art America and Pixels stores!

Red Tape and Rules…

Most of the rules for crowdfunding are relatively straightforward, just make sure you read those terms and conditions that you would usually skip past before you sign up to anything. There are several different types of crowdfunding, each has their own way of doing things and some are legally tied up within the laws of the country you sign up from, so the rules for one person may be different for another in a different region even though they are using the same platform.

Generally, crowdfunding works differently depending on the type of crowdfunding the multitude of platforms offer between them, not all crowdfunding platforms are equal, and no two are really the same. So it’s always worth knowing before you sign up to anything, what type of crowdfunding platform it is that you are signing up to and also having a think about the type of platform that will suit your project better.

The main types of crowdfunding platforms fall under the following headings:

Peer to Peer lending -  where the backers lend money to a company or individual on the understanding that the money will be repaid along with interest. This is similar to the way loans from banks work, except that you are essentially borrowing from lots of banks, but in this instance, the banks are generally people or individual companies.

Equity Crowdfunding – where you essentially sell a stake in your business in return for an investment. This is basically the crowdfunding version of the stock market and you could end up with investors holding a stake and a say in how the project pans out in the future. In short, do you take the funding in return for giving up some future control?

Rewards-based crowdfunding – is more typical and probably what most people understand crowdfunding to be. Patreon style crowdfunding is perhaps one of the best examples to use here, and this is where backers expect a level or multiples levels of reward in exchange for their contribution which may either be a one-off or continuous payment or donation similar to an ongoing subscription.

Donation-based crowdfunding – individual donations usually of small amounts to a cause or charity that mount up towards a larger overall funding target and where the supporter usually doesn’t expect anything in return. Go Fund Me is maybe the best example of this although many funding seekers do also offer some rewards for donations received.

Profit-based crowdfunding – where future revenue and profit is shared with the backers in return for their funding to begin the project now.

Debt Securities Crowdfunding – a crowdfunding option that can be complex, it’s where individuals invest in debt security issued by the company looking for backing, usually in the form of a bond.

Hybrid Crowdfunding – is exactly what it says on the tin and can be a mixture of multiple types of crowdfunding. It’s perhaps better for some serious business backers but can get complicated.

 Each of the above forms of crowdfunding will be governed by very different rules and regulations and some will be governed by financial laws and regulations too. Some of these will perhaps need a level of legal advice, particularly where you are issuing shares in something, and these rules and regulations might even be governed by the laws of a particular country or region and not just by the rules and regulations of the platform, so it’s always best to check.

When you are deciding on the type of crowdfunding to use you may think that going down the standard Patreon type route will be the best option, and in most cases and from experience, it probably will be. But the crowdfunding platforms that require you to give out shares or future control shouldn’t be immediately dismissed, especially if the project requires a lot of financial backing. For some investors, this is exactly what will sway them into backing your idea.

How do you get paid?

Each platform will handle payments differently. Some require you to have a bank account and to share the details of the account with the platform so that they can pay you, others will make payments via PayPal, and all will take a cut of any funding you receive. The depth of the cut depends on the platform, some charge less than others, and it also depends on the level of funding you receive in some cases. If you are worried about sharing bank account details, don’t be. If you use a reputable platform, of which there are many, they take security seriously and will only ever use the details provided to make sure you get paid.

Some platforms will pay as your campaign receives backers, others will only pay you if you meet the minimum required or the total of the amount you asked for. In this case, if you don’t raise the full amount, backers won’t be charged and you won’t get paid which means that you are then under no obligation to deliver the project.

fish and chip shop artwork by Mark Taylor
Every high street had a chippy! The Great British Fish and Chip Shop is available from my Fine Art America and Pixels stores!

How much do you need?

Crowdfunding should be viewed as one single tool in the toolbox of raising funds for your project. It can and probably should be part of a much wider strategy around finding funding, but you do have to go into these kinds of funding hunts with a firm idea of just how much you need to bring the project to light.

If you are looking at other funding options alongside crowdfunding, it probably makes sense to set your crowdfunding target lower than needed and look to other sources to top it up to the level you need. There’s an element of risk in doing this, if you fail to reach the required amount from other sources, you might not have enough in the crowdfunding pot to cover the project. However, having a crowdfunding target that has exceeded its target goals is an excellent way of delivering social proof that could encourage even more backers.

If you plan to use this option, it’s worth setting out your intention on the crowdfunding platform to ensure that backers know that funding is reliant on other sources too. There’s nothing that annoys a backer more than seeing a project that has met its goal over and over, but that’s still not met the goal that means the project will move forward.

Having contingency built into your planning is essential. Even the best thought out art projects usually come with hidden surprises and therefore hidden costs. An installation artwork for example might need funding in order to cover things like gaining permissions and permits, or it might be to provide additional safety equipment if you are working in a public space.

Also, don’t forget things like public liability insurance which some installations will no doubt need if this hasn’t been agreed with the commissioner of the work. Every artist will probably be able to share their own story of that one time when the project almost broke the bank, and a few will probably share stories of when that one project did actually break the bank all because of not having a contingency to cover something relatively simple.

Deliverable plans rather than imagination…

As I intimated earlier, crowdfunding isn’t a fast track to fund poor life choices, and neither is it a way to fund some kind of mid-life crisis idea that came to you on a whim. Take a look at some of the projects that asked for funding though, and that’s essentially what you get. There are so many ill-thought-out projects on crowdfunding websites that it can sometimes make it difficult for backers to filter out the maybe will happen from the definitely won’t happen kinds of projects.

It’s vital to go into any form of crowdfunding with a solid plan. It’s often said that around 70% of crowdfunding projects never get off the ground, and most of the time it’s for the simple reason that there is no plan, or the funding target has been set impossibly high. Having a plan means knowing the market, and what the market will more likely fund.

With art projects, especially with first time crowdfunded art projects, it might be much better to start off with something a little smaller in scale than the three-storey art installation you have been imagining over the weekend. Instead, start off with something that you know you can deliver and something that backers feel like they can back because they can see that it’s not going to be impossible to deliver and that it has a realistic crowdfunding goal.

Once you deliver a project you are more likely to gain traction with future projects which can then become grander and grander in design and because you will by then have a proven track record of delivery, you might even begin to reach your goals much sooner.

Be excited about your project…

Posting a crowdfunding idea and expecting the world to immediately see your genius and want to buy into it, really isn’t how this thing works. Once you have the plan in place, a strategy to deliver that plan and a good idea about the kind of person you are pitching the idea too, that’s when the hard work really starts.

This is the point at which you need to find an insane amount of energy and enthusiasm to keep the momentum around your project moving forward. The most critical time for any crowdfunded project is within the first two days of going live. This is the point when you need the excitement dialled up to eleven and the passion to be dialled up even more.

There’s no better feeling for crowdfunding seekers to find that their project is making major strides towards reaching the goal during the first 48-hours, but to get that kind of traction there will be a point when some backers will be looking for social proof to give them the confidence to back the project in the early hours and days. The best way to do this is to make a start on raising the excitement levels in advance of going live, so you might want to harness the power of your existing email subscriber list and try to enlist some early backers so that the social proof is in place from the off.

This is a strategy that I call, priming the pump. It’s not just useful in crowdfunding, it’s a great strategy for promoting your next art release too. Large corporations with entire marketing departments never start marketing the product on the day it gets released, some will be making a start on the marketing about ten seconds after the initial idea. They will create teaser campaigns, begin to work out what might stick with their target audience, and they will gradually build-up the anticipation over an extended period so that when the product finally hits the market, it’s a well-known product with an already invested and interested market.

The pre-launch marketing campaign could be as simple as a video or a series of videos introducing the concept of the project, maybe even demonstrating a prototype, and together with a sustained presence across social media that tells the story as it develops, can make a huge difference in those very early and most critical hours of crowdfunding.

fabric artwork depicting art supplies
Art Supplies by Mark Taylor - Available in my Fine Art America and Pixels stores. I love creating fabric art using digital mediums. I can spend weeks working on texture, it's so relaxing!

Rewards and stretch goals…

There’s a whole new language to learn when it comes to crowdfunding. You might come across rewards that need little explanation, but you will also come across things like stretch goals. These are additional goals that are set after the original goal has been met.

But let’s start with rewards. A reward can be something as simple as a mention in the project, a T-Shirt, or a behind the scenes tour, or even the physical product that the project is producing. With art projects, those rewards could be prints, signed prints, limited editions, or all manner of other products that will be linked to the main project. Each reward will be placed in a tier, so anyone backing tier one for example, might receive a T-Shirt, but those backing tier four and putting even more money into the project might get a limited edition signed print or an original work.

You might then think about increasing the level of reward when you begin to implement stretch goals, so with this hypothetical art project, the stretch goal could be to make the artwork bigger, utilise more expensive materials or make the project even more elaborate, and the rewards might at that point also become more and more alluring to backers. If only the original goal has been met, none of these additions would be placed into the completed project unless you find that you can afford to implement them with the funding you have already raised.

You need to be very clear with potential backers when it comes to stretch goals. If it was always your intention to upgrade the materials in the project even if only the original target was met, then it’s not really a stretch goal. Stretch goals should add the extra value to a project that didn’t or wouldn’t exist if only the original goal had been met. A good example of a stretch goal might be that you were going to 3D print a component if only the original goal had been met, but a stretch goal might mean that you can utilise more robust injection moulding, add another few chapters to a book, or print artwork on much better quality materials, none of which could easily be done without the stretch goal funding.

Stretch goals can also create their own momentum, if backers are keen to see the next tier implemented in your project, they’re more likely to want to share it with their people in order to get you and them past the post to make that reward tier happen. Stretch goals can and should really be part of your strategy, but as I said, you do need to make sure that the stretch goals really do add value.

happy Summer artwork depicting a tree with pink and yellow leaves
Happy Summer by Mark Taylor - Available from my Fine Art America and Pixels stores!

Have your strategy in place…

Before you go down the route of crowdfunding anything, you have to have a strategy in place to start your project as soon as you have the backing. We’ve already covered making sure that you have a plan, but the project delivery strategy is what brings the plan to life. Let’s put that into a little context. If you reach your target this weekend, do you have everything you need in place, or at least have a plan to have everything in place to make a start on Monday morning? Whilst that might sound dramatic, that’s essentially how quickly these things can and need to happen if they take off.

If you need parts manufacturing, do you have a willing manufacturer waiting in the wings? If you need to scale, can the manufacturer keep up with the volume? With art projects, you might not need quite the same level of behind the scenes activity to have taken place, although I can think of a few art-related projects that could very well need to have people and some infrastructure prepared and ready to go if needed.


If there are going to be any delays in delivering the project, you have to communicate this to your backers as soon as you know, and then you need to keep them updated. Nothing puts backers off more than radio silence, so the best strategy if you encounter a delay is to explain everything in an open and honest way. If you’re communicating, backers will put more faith in you and realise that you haven’t taken the money and made a run for it.

It’s a good idea to have a communications strategy even when things are going to plan. Keeping backers up to date will build up trust and that’s even more important if you plan on creating further projects that will need crowdfunding, those who backed you this time are more likely to back you again. Positive communications, so long as they are accurately communicating the positives of the project can help to continue building that all-important excitement and anticipation, and might even bring in even more backers.

There’s something else that you need to communicate throughout and even before your campaign even begins, and that’s the same thing I have been saying on these very pages for a number of years. You have to tell your story, and that’s even more critical when it comes to the arts.

go tell stories artwork
Tell the story throughout your crowdfunding campaign...


Crowdfunding really is as much about managing risk as anything else. There’s a definite risk involved for backers, and there are risks too for those seeking funding to bring their projects out into the open.

For backers, it’s true that many new businesses fail within the first few years, sometimes sooner. If a business ceases to exist after it has been backed, there’s very little to no chance of the backer getting that money back if the money has already made it to the creator of the project and it has been spent.

Any return on the backing made is never guaranteed with crowdfunding, and even more so when the crowdfunding platform pays the project creator as soon as you put your cash on the counter. There are countless stories of crowdfunding projects where this has happened.

If you are backing a project in return for shares in a company, the shares that you receive may be unlisted, which essentially means that they don’t work in the same way that shares on the financial markets would usually work and they might be next to impossible to sell on.

The worst scenario would be if the crowdfunding platform ceases to exist, which given the sheer number of crowdfunding platforms isn’t that much of a stretch to imagine happening, it’s a hugely competitive market. We might immediately know the obvious ones who are less likely to hit problems, but there are many of these platforms springing up and each will be set up slightly differently and will have very different rules. For new platforms, it can take a while for them to build up credibility so that potential backers can feel confident in backing projects.

 This is a risk for the project owner too, if the platform goes bump it could take your backers money with it and you not only lose the funding, but your credibility is on the line too.

Let’s not forget the real gorilla in the room either, and that’s the risk of scammers. Again, there have been plenty of stories even recently where crowdfunding projects have been set up with the sole intention of taking the money and making a run for it. It’s not just those who are backing projects either, there have been more than a few project creators who have sought out funding only to be scammed by fraudulent backers. Whether you are seeking funding or backing a project, it’s critical that you carry out your own due diligence.

do not feed the seagulls artwork by Mark Taylor, seagulls flying towards fish and chips
Do Not Feed The Seagulls by Mark Taylor - Another recent creation now available on my Fine Art America and Pixels store. Link below in the About Mark section!

Look to alternatives too…

As I mentioned earlier, it’s worth keeping in mind that crowdfunding really is only a single tool in a toolbox that also contains many other tools. With art projects, it might be more fruitful to look towards art grants and awards in the first instance rather than immediately going down the crowdfunding route.

There will be a few people who equate crowdfunding as something that is going to be easier than filling in the forms to apply for an arts grant, but both come with about the same level of effort. Arguably, crowdfunding can be much more complex and require much more effort than applying for a grant or award, especially when it comes to marketing and even more so because that level of marketing has to be sustained often over a much longer period.

Patreon or Patrons…

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that works a little differently from other crowdfunding platforms and harks back to the days when artists would sustain their craft through the support of a patron. With a significant percentage of artists having to fund their art through either their own finances or through second or indeed even third jobs, Patreon provides an opportunity for artists who can be supported by the community.

Rather than supporting a physical product or service, Patreon supports the creator, much as the Royal Patrons throughout art history supported the artists daily life so that the artist could focus on their art. However, the funding on Patreon is likely to be less than the once-popular Royal patrons would provide to the artists they supported, but to counter this, you can have any number of patrons gifting through Patreon. The backing is in the number of people who get behind the project.

Patreon is a platform that allows you to reward those who back you but the chances of backers finding you at all amongst the shear volume of projects on the site are pretty slim until you become established and generate your own audience. Again, plenty of marketing effort is required, and there are some high-value rewards given out by some funding seekers that you will need to compete with.

It might not be enough to send out a PDF print of one of your artistic creations month after month, those who regularly spend the big bucks will usually be looking for something else. Of course there will be those purely focussed on supporting the artist rather than being in it for the reward, but I wouldn’t underestimate just how important those rewards tiers can be for some backers and there’s a community of backers who want to be the first to get their hands on whatever the project is.

It could though be a more sustainable income than some other crowdfunding platforms and models, particularly as backers can set up a recurring monthly payment that will then land in your bank account minus the Patreon fee. But, we probably need to set some expectations right about here, which are that you really do need to ideally have an already engaged community surrounding you and your work. If you only have a handful of likes on social media and little to no engagement, you might want to build the engagement up on social media first.

Patreon perhaps works best as a mechanism to build a membership business rather than as a mechanism to pay your household or project bills month after month, yet there are artists who manage to do that and pull in a regular income through Patreon that allows them to focus on their art in between sending out reward tiers.

How you utilise a service such as Patreon really does depend on how you want to take your work and your career forward, but this is another option that is at its core, the very essence of crowdfunding at the same time as offering something a little different and it is much more geared towards artists than other crowdfunding platforms.

If you are thinking of a project for say installation art, or another one-off project, maybe other platforms might bear more fruit as Patreon really is geared towards regular payments with regular rewards. That’s not to say that Patreon should be avoided, it’s one of the best and perhaps the best there is with a creative focus, but you will need to think rather more creatively about keeping backers engaged if you want to continue receiving their backing month after month.

The Power of the crowd…

In my experience, if you have an engaged community who already buy into what you do, crowdfunding is a logical next step. I’ve even known artists who ask for unused art supplies to be sent to them on a semi-regular basis, with which they make all sorts of interesting art and then send some of that art back out to the community of backers. Whilst there are no platforms that offer art supplies as a currency (maybe that’s a Kickstarter in itself), a few of the artists I know who already do this have set their own crowd-funding for art supplies websites up or utilise word of mouth.

The point of this is to show that generally, people, even in this day and age, are willing to show support for what and who they love. If you can think of creative ways to fund an aspect of your art career that people who may not have excessive cash can buy into, I think, generally they will. I’m always surprised by the kindness of community but it always comes down to you, and making sure that you are making it easy for the community to want to buy into you. That means plenty of give and take, less me, me, me, more working together.

Mountain print by Mark Taylor
A very early work from me, it's also my best selling artwork ever! Originally created on a wooden fence panel, this work sells as a print at least once or twice a week!

The Power of Presentation…

There is one thing that you absolutely have to nail when it comes to crowdfunding, and that’s the presentation of your project. If you take a look at the most-backed projects on any crowdfunding platform, the pitches are usually really slick and the images used in those pitches, even slicker.

This is where your artistic vision becomes your super power. Imagine pitching to create a beautiful work of art and then using the equivalent of a third-hand digital photocopy of a photocopy for the visuals you will use in your marketing. As an artist looking to fund an art project, the visuals are the shop window on which backers will get their first sense of what they can expect and if they see that equivalent of a photocopy, it won’t fill them with inspiration or confidence that the finished project will be any better.

In summary…

Crowdfunding is a great way to raise capital for your next project but it’s not the only way. If you decide that it’s for you, spend as much time as you can preparing your campaign. Get the marketing materials in place way before you start, and begin the pitch as soon as you can.

Harness the power of social media and really work on your engagement skills. Facebook even say that on average, business pages that join relevant groups get around 130% more visits to their business page, but that only happens when you engage in the group properly. That means you need to focus on building relationships and being generally useful rather than using the groups as just another opportunity to sell, sell, sell. It really is about building credibility and trust within a community who are more likely to find some value in your pitch and idea.

Don’t waste time focussing on markets that realistically would never back you. A good crowdfunding campaign is often started months before going live on a crowdfunding site, and those early days are really when a majority of your backers will decide to back you. Once your pitch is live on the platform, the platform really is just a mechanism for them to pony up the pledge promises and to stay informed about your progress. The act of crowdfunding is essentially done and dusted in the time before your pitch goes live on the site.

As a rule of thumb, you should be ideally aiming for at least 20% - 30% of your target in the first 24-hours, as a minimum. That might sound like a huge task but bear in mind that at this point, you should be converting all of those relationships you have built up over the preceding months into paying backers.

Another great test is whether or not friends and family back you, if they don’t it’s usually a sign that you might struggle with people outside of your inner circle and that should be a good indication that you really do need to up the marketing game or reconsider the strategy.

You absolutely have to know how much you are going to need and then add in some contingency. What you shouldn’t do is keep returning to your crowdfunding platform to raise the target because you underestimated just how complex and expensive your project is going to be. Early backers are likely to back out if you begin to look like you totally underestimated how much the project is going to cost, each time they see a plot twist gives them another reason to back out.

Don’t just rely on social media and the crowdfunding site as your pitching strategy. The best crowdfunding projects usually have some kind of prototype that demonstrates the probability that the idea can be created, and this is then something that could feature more prominently in your pre-launch campaign.

The pre-launch campaign should ideally have what I like to term as an anchor. Somewhere where potential backers can always visit to find out more information about you and your idea. With this in mind, it’s worth considering creating a website that includes those details, your back story, and more importantly, a way to contact you directly and find the links to make the pledge on your crowdfunding service of choice.

Despite the popularity of crowdfunding, for a lot of people it’s still a new subject that is little understood, and those people might not know enough about crowdfunding to be confident enough to back you. 

Be open to explaining how crowdfunding works, point out the benefits but also point out the risks, and be ready to provide examples of successful well-known products that have previously been crowdfunded.

It’s worth recapping on those reward tiers too. When it comes to offering rewards, the tiers available at different pledge levels should be unique. If you are offering the same reward for a five buck pledge as you are for a hundred buck pledge, there’s no real incentive for anyone to pledge more than the five bucks. Equally, you shouldn’t get carried away with having an excessive number of reward tiers, that’s just confusing for the backer and it becomes a nightmare to logistically manage for you.  

If you are struggling for inspiration for an idea that could attract crowdfunding as an artist, do some research over a couple of weeks as projects change almost daily and this will give you a much better sense of what is popular over a short period of time. The reason for this is that lots of new kick starter projects spring up every day and what you find on any of the sites today is going to be very different to what you might find on the same site tomorrow or next week.

When I took a look online while researching this article, some of the most backed projects from creatives tended to be pin badges which have often met their original funding target multiple times over. If you go down the route of pin badges, you will need to make sure you have a supplier and a heap of engaging designs that you know your supplier can produce.

Other projects over the past week or so have included limited edition giclee prints, trading cards, prop replicas, one hundred limited edition prints with each backer receiving a one-off print, art cards, physical magazines, coffee table books, and yet more enamel pin badges. Interestingly, all of these examples had met or even stretched the original target.

Finally, remember what I said earlier about crowdfunding not necessarily being the golden egg, or the gravy train, or the answer that will get your idea funded. It takes an incredible amount of effort to crowdfund successfully, and even more effort in the months before you even go live. If you are looking for an easy way to raise capital, there are probably a hundred and one easier ways of doing it than through crowdfunding, especially with the number of arts awards and grants available each year. Whilst competition for those grants and awards is often huge, they might give you a much better chance of your project succeeding.

Take Care!

That’s all for this week but I would love to hear about any crowdfunding projects you have created and whether or not they were a success. I would love to know about your experiences of backing them too, so if you have anything to share, as always, leave a comment below!

Until next time, stay well, stay safe, and stay creative!

Best Wishes,

Mark x

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. My days are filled with art, dog walking and living my best life while still being stuck somewhere in the eighties. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here:   and you can purchase my new works, special and limited editions directly. You can also view my portfolio website at

If you are on Facebook, you can give me a follow right here,  You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at 


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