Feb 8 2018
Some Kickstarter creators have built up quite a following over time. The writer and publisher Elly Blue, for example, has launched 25 projects, with new fans discovering her work all along the way. So we thought, why not make it easier for people to find specific creators on Kickstarter and check out their latest projects?
Now, when you use the search tool on our site, you’ll see the names of some of our 320,000 creators included in the results when relevant. This feature rolled out to all users today.
Once you find the creator you’re looking for, you can hit the “Follow” button to be notified when they launch a new project.
This is just the latest in a string of upgrades to our search tool over the last few months. It’s now more forgiving and helpful if you misspell a word or it can’t find an exact match. It suggests narrowing your search to areas like Documentary or Graphic Novels, updating its suggestions as you type. And on our mobile site the search results have been redesigned to make them much clearer.
We can tell that the search tool is getting more useful because the number of people who click through from search results to project pages is up by 18%. That means more backers are connecting with more creators — which is, after all, a big part of why we’re here! We hope you’ll try it out yourself and find some great projects to back.
Feb 1 2018
15 student projects from University of Illinois at Chicago School of Design
Every year, we look forward to seeing students from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Design launch Kickstarter campaigns as the final project for their Entrepreneurial Product Development class. For most, it’s their first experience with designing and offering an original product, and we love seeing Kickstarter used as part of this learning process. This year, UIC Professor Ted Burdett is leading the class. As the co-owner of Strand Design, he has created many products of his own, including the Kickstarter-funded Fourneau Bread Oven. Here, he shares a bit of the philosophy behind the class and introduces his students’ work.
When you graduate from design school, you often wind up working for an agency or as an in-house designer at a company. But I’ve noticed that a lot of my students dream of being independent — starting a studio, making things for a living, or pursuing a venture based on a social or environmental mission. Most don’t take that road and it is no mystery why; they’re saddled with debt, have limited experience, and are short on resources. Yet, In many ways there’s no better time to pursue independent creativity than when you’re full of youthful energy, bountiful creativity and optimism, and haven’t got a whole lot to lose.
Blazing an independent path is far more feasible now for young designers than it was in the past, given the abundance of digital platforms that facilitate community building, prototyping, manufacturing, marketing, and selling. When I think about these new possibilities, paired with my students’ desire to make a positive impact on the world, I see a very bright future.
We created the year-long Entrepreneurial Product Development (EPD) course at UIC to give students the chance to try out entrepreneurship firsthand, within the confines of school, and at a small scale. We help them learn a user-centered approach that embraces validation through prototyping and iteration. Through developing a self-directed project, running a Kickstarter campaign, and coordinating production, students are better equipped to decide whether they want to pursue an independent practice when they graduate.
And that is where we are now: the beginning of our Spring semester marks the launch of our Kickstarter campaigns! You can check them all out below — please share your feedback and help spread the word.
Xinyan Liu’s Inrolo is a home for your instax photos. Effy made countless versions of inrolo through the fall semester, continuously refining her design. The level of aesthetic refinement that she has achieved is impressive, as have been her sourcing efforts.
Delaney Gould created Hero, a jewelry collection that references historic female warriors as a form of empowerment. Delaney brings a novel spotlight to the historic stories that inspired this project. The industrial process she uses to craft these pieces makes them unique.
MMS (Mix, Measure, Strain) is Jamie Freedman’s three-in-one tool to help you craft great cocktails at home. Jamie has been prolific in prototyping this product, and she started off with a completely different bar-related product. Jamie has made the act of pivoting from project to another look elegant.
Dancello Bennett’s Cylinse is an incense burner that blends music with aromatherapy. A speaker in the bottom of the burner creates hypnotic visuals by causing the rising smoke to “dance.” In this project Dancello is stretching his comfort zone around designing for manufacture.
Josh Enderle dreamed up Oozy, a limited-edition resin figurine based on the amorphous blobs or slimes found in various tabletop, video, and card games. Josh has blown us all away with his skill in crafting the Oozy forms and with the progress that he’s made in mastering the challenging process of casting these works of art.
Dane Gillen created Slope, a new solution for showcasing your snowboard in the home. Dane convinced us all that there is a gap in the solutions available to snowboarders for storing and displaying their boards. Dane leaned hard into prototyping and testing last semester and the effort has paid off.
Araceli Martinez’s Picoso is a beautiful vessel meant for carrying hot sauce. Araceli is on a mission to help her fellow hot sauce addicts “bring spicy everywhere.” Thank you Chely!
Marisa Savegnago came up with the Vinyl L, a new way to display your vinyl at home. Marisa took a long, hard look at how vinyl fans were storing and displaying their albums and realized that there was an opportunity for a more versatile solution. The quest to has led Marisa to explore numerous materials and a variety of manufacturers.
Xiaoguang Wang’s Envelo is a drawing and writing essentials carrying bag that allows you to draw anywhere. Xiao investigated a wide array of problems through the semester, developing prototypes and using them to put his ideas to the test. Envelo is a great tool for those who love to draw or write.
I Can't Draw Hands
Drawing hands has always been a problem for Samuel Kramer, so he decided to make 100 plush fingers instead. This project aims to raise funds for Sam’s first solo art installation.I Can’t Draw Hands ties into what Sam is really passionate about: making fun objects with his own two hands.
Andrew Kunk designed the Orbit Bag, a quick-attach pouch that orbits your backpack, bag, or belt. The prototypes and visual elements that Andrew has created for this campaign are exceptional. Orbit stikes the whole class as a super useful, really well-crafted product.
Kyle Lindenman’s Sketch16 is a multimedia sketchbook designed to encourage experimentation. Kyle is an involved member in the UIC chapter of the Industrial Designs Society of America. It is no surprise that he ultimately chose to launch a project that is intended to help his fellow designers unleash their creative power.
With Pocket Pop, Matthew Klimczakis doing us all a huge favor. His belt-mounted cooler means you’ll never again have to find a spot to put your drink when your hands are full. Matt’s unique brand of humor shines through as he shows us how Pocket Pop will even work while taking a stroll on the treadmill.
Malgorzata Markiewicz brings us Purrenial, a cat-friendly indoor planter. Gosia looked high and low for a “gap” in home products and ended up finding her opportunity in an unexpected place. Purrenial is a straight-forward product that will make it easier for cat-lovers to care for their little gatos.
Marcin Wieczorek designed Allur, a slim, lightweight, and secure wallet that can be used independently or as a cell phone attachment. Throughout the semester Marcin has evaluated his designs through a rigorous process of prototyping and testing. Ultimately he arrived at an elegant, well-made tool for everyday living.
EPD is one of an array of professional practice courses at The School of Design at UIC available to senior design students. The course was first led by Bruce Tharp. Craighton Berman, a seven-time Kickstarter creator himself, led EPD for the past three years. Past projects and class activity can be seen here at Craighton's blog, Always Be Hustling.
Jan 26 2018
Today, I’m happy to announce the appointment of Fabrice Nadjari as our newest Kickstarter Fellow.
Originally from Paris, Fabrice trained as an engineer and a sociologist, specializing in innovation. He then pursued a globe-spanning career as an independent creator and entrepreneur — with his work taking him to places like Bolivia, Bhutan, and the Central African Republic. In 2011, he and a childhood friend set off for Afghanistan, where they shot a photography project documenting the lives of a nomadic tribe in the country’s remote Wakhan corridor. The work caught the attention of the United Nations, earned Fabrice an Emmy nomination, and won accolades from National Geographic.
Our Kickstarter Fellows program is still new. Each Fellow’s tenure and scope is designed to bring their unique expertise to life on a flexible timeline, but they all share a common interest in empowering creators to create. As our first Fellow, I spent a few months last year helping to launch Drip. We’re now excited to learn as we go and develop the program further. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming Fabrice!
Jan 23 2018
What do a reggae legend, a nine-piece vocal ensemble, a Cajun songwriter, and a MacArthur Genius all have in common? They’ve all funded Grammy-nominated albums on Kickstarter. These creators — Lee “Scratch” Perry, Roomful of Teeth, Jo-El Sonnier, and Miguel Zenón, respectively — are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Kickstarter talent acknowledged by the Recording Academy.
Over the years, we’ve amassed a list of Kickstarter musicians, orchestras, and record labels that have racked up Grammy nods and even a few wins. With the 60th Annual Grammy Awards less than a week away— they air on CBS this Sunday, January 28 — join us in celebrating two Kickstarter creators up for golden gramophones this year.
(And tune in to a playlist featuring tunes by Grammy-nominated Kickstarter creators after the jump.)
2018 Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album: Miguel Zenón, Típico
Jazz musician, composer, and repeat Kickstarter creator Miguel Zenón has released ten records over his fifteen-year career. After crafting a sprawling album with a sixteen-piece band on 2015’s Identities Are Changeable, Zenón returned to working with his long-standing quartet to record his Kickstarter-funded 2017 album, Típico. The project centers on the characteristic — or típico — musical language Zenón has developed with his bandmates, Luís Perdomo, Hans Glawischnig, and Henry Cole. Placed on NPR’s Best of 2017 list, Típico is an album that speaks on the innate beauty of jazz, and the power of longtime friendship and collaboration.
93 backers pledged $17,546 to help bring this project to life.
2018 Nominee for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package: Ozma Records, The Voyager Golden Record
In 1977, a team led by Carl Sagan curated the Voyager Golden Record — a collection of earthly sights and sounds — which then launched into space aboard the Voyager space probes. Ozma Records’ Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition brought the complete collection of sounds from the Golden Record to vinyl for the first time ever. Created with the help of over 10,000 Kickstarter backers, the box set is the most successful Kickstarter Music project to date — and a testament to the wonders of science, visual, and aural communication.
10,768 backers pledged $1,363,037 to help bring this project to life.
Jan 18 2018
Fred Benenson was Kickstarter’s second employee and ran our data team before leaving in 2016 to explore new things. Today, we're happy to announce that he’s coming back for a bit as a Kickstarter Fellow.
Fred’s wide-ranging curiosity about technology and culture has taken him down some surprising paths. In fact, before he joined Kickstarter, Fred was already a Kickstarter creator. Emoji Dick, his crowdsourced translation of Moby Dick into emoji, was the first emoji work to be added to the Library of Congress. More recently, he co-created Pitch Deck, a tabletop game that’s a great parody of startup mania. And Fred has three other Kickstarter projects under his belt, so he’s intimately familiar with creators’ needs.
Over the next several months, Fred will be helping us build the next version of the Creator Dashboard, which is where creators go for data on a live project: its funding progress, the latest pledges, top referrals, and so forth. He’ll be looking at how we can give creators the insights they need to run the most effective campaigns and build their communities on Kickstarter. We’re looking forward to working with him again!
Jan 9 2018
Today we’re excited to welcome Andy Baio back to Kickstarter. Andy’s a longtime member of the Kickstarter family. He advised us early on, helping us build Kickstarter before we even launched! And we even convinced him to serve as our very first CTO afterwards.
Andy’s a creator, full-stop. He embodies the spirit of independence that Kickstarter is proud to stand for, and he’s brought several great Kickstarter projects of his own to life over the years. “Kind of Bloop” was a chiptune jazz tribute to Miles Davis. More than 1,700 backers got behind his project to revive Upcoming — the events community Andy originally started many moons ago. And, most recently, he co-founded XOXO, an experimental festival celebrating independent artists who work on the internet.
This time around Andy’s joining us a Kickstarter Fellow. The Kickstarter Fellows idea is still taking shape, but it’s kinda like a visiting scholars program at a university — we identify really talented people whose work we admire and invite them in to collaborate with our team for a focused period of time. In the long term, we see the Fellows program as a great opportunity to work alongside extraordinary individuals who want to conspire with us to push our mission forward. But in the meantime we’re just excited to have a chance to work with Andy again. Please join us in welcoming him back. :)
Jan 4 2018
Kickstarter, Avnet, and Dragon Innovation are bringing Hardware Studio to CES in Las Vegas, January 9-12.
The massive annual gathering tends to focus on the rollout of shiny new gadgets, but we wanted to do something a little different. We’ll be live streaming conversations with designers, engineers, and makers about how the innovative hardware products that CES celebrates get made, and sharing tips for how to make the manufacturing process less daunting.
The Hardware Studio booth will be a hub of activity. Stop by to see demos of Joto, a robotic drawing board; Sisyphus, a meditative kinetic sculpture; and many other Kickstarter-funded inventions. You can also meet with experts from Avnet and Dragon Innovation, who will be holding office hours for hardware startups. Creators can sign up for these one-on-one sessions to ask questions and get advice about factory selection, sourcing, manufacturing, and much more. Sign up for a session here.
Throughout the show, we'll be hosting live-streamed chats with hardware creators about how they approached manufacturing and brought their projects to life. Read on for the full schedule — and head to Hardware.studio to tune in.
Tuesday, January 9
Times are PST.
10 am — Intro with Kickstarter, Dragon, and Avnet
11 am — PiMax
12 pm — Gnarbox
1 pm — Joto
2 pm — Como Audio
3 pm — Pico Brew
4 pm — BleepBleeps
5 pm — Daily recap with Kickstarter, Dragon, and Avnet
Wednesday, January 10
Thursday, January 11
Friday, January 12
CES takes place January 9–12 in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Kickstarter and Hardware Studio at Booth 50211 in Eureka Park, on the lower level at the Sands, just inside the main entrance.
Dec 28 2017
2017 has been a thrilling year for the Kickstarter Film team.
It began at the Sundance Film Festival, where Jennifer Brea’s Unrest won a major jury award, and ended with the theatrical release of Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully hand-painted feature film. In between, we saw Kickstarter-funded features, documentaries, and web series enter the world, changing and reinventing the way stories are told onscreen.
Here, we share some of our favorite moments from Kickstarter alumni filmmakers in 2017.
Jennifer Brea’s documentary about chronic fatigue syndrome premiered at Sundance — and was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards.
In January, Jennifer Brea’s documentary Unrest — which raised over $200,000 on Kickstarter with the support of over 2,500 backers in 2013 — won the Special Jury Award for editing at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which follows Brea's struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, is currently shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards.
“Making the film saved my life in a thousand ways,” Brea told No Film School earlier this year. “I don't even mean that as metaphor — I mean, it literally saved my life.”
Andrew Ahn gave a powerful speech about the importance of Asian-American representation in film.
In February, Korean-American filmmaker Andrew Ahn gave a stirring speech at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, where his Kickstarter-funded LGBTQ feature Spa Night won the John Cassavetes Award. "Film is such a powerful tool in humanizing these communities so that we can’t be pushed aside [and] labeled as other,” he said. “We are part of this great country, and we are undeniable."
The documentary Southwest of Salem helped exonerate four innocent women.
After garnering critical acclaim at festivals, Deborah S. Esquenazi’s documentary Southwest of Salem — originally funded on Kickstarter in 2013 — won Outstanding Documentary at the 2017 GLAAD Media Awards. The documentary centers on the San Antonio Four, four lesbian women who were wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two children in Texas in the late 1990s.
After serving nearly fifteen years in prison for a crime they did not commit, footage from the documentary helped exonerate the San Antonio Four, and they were able to accept the GLAAD award in person in April. “It’s a testament of the power of filmmaking that shedding light on injustices can create real change,” said Elizabeth Ramirez, one of the San Antonio Four, while accepting the award.
A short documentary about surfing in Iceland found support from nearly 5,000 backers, and secured distribution through Netflix.
In February, Chris Burkard’s documentary Under an Arctic Sky raised over $280,000 on Kickstarter with the help of 4,870 backers, and went on to secure distribution through Netflix. The film follows six surfers who journey to the most remote corners of Iceland in search of perfect waves, just as the worst storm in twenty-five years is about to arrive.
An animated queer love story went viral.
Since appearing on YouTube in June, the animated short In a Heartbeat has racked up almost 33 million views. The animated short, which began as a college thesis film by directors Beth David and Esteban Bravo, follows a young boy who runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams. Now, it’s one of ten films shortlisted for Best Animated Short at the 2018 Academy Awards.
Factory 25 restored the only remaining print of indie sensation In the Soup — just in time for the film’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
In 1992, Alexandre Rockwell's In the Soup, a cult indie comedy starring Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Beals, and Seymour Cassel, beat out Reservoir Dogs to win the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. But two decades later, only one badly damaged print of the film remained. This July, independent film distribution company Factory 25 stepped in and rallied nearly 800 backers on Kickstarter to help create a new archival print of the film. In the Soup will be re-released in theaters in April 2018, just in time for its twenty-fifth anniversary.
Cecilia Aldarondo’s documentary about a painful family history premiered on PBS.
In 2012, Cecilia Aldarondo raised $27,000 on Kickstarter to make Memories of a Penitent Heart, a documentary that explores the AIDS crisis and its impact on the Latino community through the story of her uncle, Miguel. As a result of the Kickstarter project, Miguel’s former partner, who disappeared after his death, contacted Aldarondo to share his side of the story, and became one of the central figures in the documentary. This powerful film premiered on PBS in July as part of its POV series.
Conan O’Brien is set to produce Adam Reid’s animated sci-fi series about Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
In August, filmmaker Adam Reid raised over $105,000 on Kickstarter to produce the pilot episode of an animated series called Barry & Joe, starring Barack Obama and Joe Biden as a time-traveling, history-altering crime-fighting duo. Now, the series is being developed by Conan O’Brien’s production company.
Griffin Dunne’s documentary about Joan Didion debuted on Netflix.
Griffin Dunne’s documentary, Joan Didion: The Center Cannot Hold — originally funded on Kickstarter in 2014 with the help of over 3,500 backers — premiered at the New York Film Festival in November, and is now available to stream on Netflix. Elise McCave, Kickstarter’s Director of Narrative Film, recently wrote about how the Kickstarter community helped make that happen in a guest post for Women and Hollywood.
Loving Vincent, the first fully hand-painted feature film, premiered in theaters.
Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s Loving Vincent originally funded on Kickstarter in 2014 with the help of nearly 800 backers. The biographical portrait of Vincent van Gogh, created by hand-painting over 65,000 frames of film, premiered in theaters in December. The film recently won a European Film Award and earned a Golden Globes nomination — and critics are speculating that an Oscar nomination may follow.