Using Kickstarter to make fine art without galleries or grand committees or gazillionaires


Molly Crabapple sez, "While cultural institutions, from record labels to newspapers, are crumbling around us, the fine art world has remained relatively unchanged. Medici is The Crowd is an article about how I decided to create large, elaborate, political art without waiting for permission, and to fund it with the speed and populism of the internet. Shell Game, my art show about the financial crisis, whose Kickstarter inspired this article, is here."

Molly is a brilliant and principled artist, and a Kickstarter genius. She's got something to say.

What I wanted to figure out was a way to create work that was funded neither by rich collectors, nor by grant committees, nor by someone's supportive sugar daddy. I wanted to make giant, fancy, glittering art, paid for by small donors, all of whom, even if they couldn't afford the pieces I was making, got something of value in exchange. I wanted to make and fund art with the democracy and speed of the internet.

I decided to turn to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, where I had done three other successful projects.

Kickstarter is run on small backers, with most people donating between $20 and $100 dollars.

Here was my plan to give them something awesome:

I broke my rewards into four categories: "Access," "Artifact," "Art Objects," and "Art." "Access" was livestreams and parties and interactions with my backers. I wanted to hear their thoughts, and give them mine. "Artifact" meant the brushes, drawing scraps and paint battered palates that went into making giant paintings. I got the idea watching baseball players sell their baseballs. For "Art Objects," I made postcards, art-adorned poker chips, and other reasonably-priced reproductions.

Comment: Medici is the Crowd (Thanks, Molly!)