Conversations: Jane Moore
Jane is another friend of Jess's, we initially got in touch through Facebook and then through a combination of emails and Facebook messages rearranged and rearranged until we finally managed to touch base via skype, after realising that trying to synchronise schedules would be futile. I had already looked at Jane's work a couple of times more out of interest, and was unsurprised to find that in addition to her own artistic practice, she works as a freelance illustrator, often producing story boards. It amused me that she depicts narratives for a living, and that our paths were crossing through my own creation of a very different kind of narrative that too was trying to depict something that seemed increasingly impossible to pin down to one image. Rather a string of images (or webpages) and a series of conversations.
Touching-base with Jane Moore, Tuesday 17th March, 2015
Zara Worth So firstly, how did the Kickstarter Project come about?
Jane Moore Well, I wanted to raise some money to do an exhibition of this project (Sketch a Day), and I knew it was going to cost a lot of money; because I would have to frame 365 works, and I needed a big space to house them in. I had some savings, but it wouldn’t have been enough to cover everything, and the shipping and stuff like that. A couple of my friends had done Kickstarter projects before, and I’d supported them and kind of got an idea of how it would go about. So I talked to them and they encouraged me. So I spent a few months researching it, thinking about how I would go about it and what I would offer as a reward, because I wanted to use it as a means to sell my artwork, as well as just raising money and giving someone a t-shirt. So I used it to sell my artwork and prints, and I also used it to fund a book; which is arriving next week. It has taken quite a while to do, it was quite a big project. I thought it was a great thing to do, and also that I would be able to offer something back to people, so that they would get something physical, something that you could keep forever. And, I got new customers out of it. So it was a really great marketing tool actually, and I think that was the most important thing out of it; the new customers I got and the number of hits on the video. Internationally Kickstarter’s great because it’s an American company, there are European platforms, but with Kickstarter I was able to attract customers in the States as well as in Europe and the UK.
ZW Because you were aware of friends having used Crowd Funding do you think it was something you were more inclined to lean towards because it was more familiar?
JM Yeah, and they had successful projects. They were still creatives but in different fields: one is a film director and another is a hat designer. So different fields but the same principle. With my friend who was the hat designer it was probably a more similar approach, she was using the hats as rewards so she was using Crowd Funding to build up her customer base, and people are investing in the product. I think that’s important, that you ensure that your rewards are really good, that you market your product and build a business. Some people call Crowd Funding a high brow form of begging; so I was very aware of that, because some projects you see and you think, ‘You can’t ask people for money to fund this!’, and you can get ripped off on these things. Your rewards have to reflect what people are going to invest in you.
ZW When you were deciding upon your reward bands were you very aware of establishing a clear exchange, so it wasn’t 'begging' or money for nothing?
JM Yeah, it was my top priority, and I marketed it in a way that it was not me asking for money. It was more, ‘You will buy this for this amount of money’, rather than, ‘Give me money’. To be fair I probably should’ve charged more for each reward. On Kickstarter you do have to knock a bit off your product, but it’s worth it.
ZW You raised well over your target, you reached £8556 and you were looking originally for £7000, do you think that, that was in part because you had that product in exchange for donations?
JM Yes, and there was still people wanting to buy after it finished and they did which was great, so I had a few extra customers right up to the exhibition. So in between finishing Kickstarter and the exhibition I didn’t have much time, only about two months, it was a short time frame. But once people knew about it and there was growing hype about it, there was a lot of press with it; people were reading about it in Newspapers and Magazines, so people wanted to get involved, but everyone tends to leave it until the last minute. So that’s why you always go above your target, its about the last 48hours when you meet your target. The first day and the last 48 hours are the key points where you are going to make money on Kickstarter, that’s when you really need to push it and market it. During those points I was constantly on Twitter and Facebook, and I already had some press, so it was then that people started donating.
ZW So you were sharing on social media, there was press coverage, what was the balance of self-publicity that you had to do and the publicity that the project generated around itself?
JM Initially, the main outlet is Facebook; they say that about 80% of your donations will come from Facebook, and it does. On Kickstarter you get a dashboard so you can see where your traffic is coming from. Email would be the second one, and then through Facebook you get people referring to you.
ZW So people sharing your project on for you?
JM Yeah, so anyone who donated was sent an image of their artwork. I would ask which image they wanted, but everyone knew that it was ‘first-come first-served’, so that also gave it a bit of hype, people thinking – I need to donate now so I can get my favourite before someone else gets in there. Then I sent an image, then they could put that up on Facebook and say look, I just put that up on Kickstarter, with the link, and then other people would see it and go on to it. So referrals are a good way of getting more traffic. Twitter, not so much, I think it really is Facebook, email and Google. If you get press that’s great. I’m from Belfast, and the Belfast Telegraph were very supportive of me and did an article with the link and also included the link online. So I got a lot from that actually, because people want to support a local Northern Irish artist in London.
ZW Were you using your personal Facebook account and your work Facebook account?
JM Both, I have a separate page for the Sketch a Day Project. When you first use Kickstarter it is mostly friends and family. They will be your core. Then through them you have a second group who they have referred you on to. Then you meet other people through them on Facebook, and it gradually spreads out to others.
ZW Had you already got a strong base of people, that weren’t friends and family, interested in your practice?
JM Well, I work professionally as an illustrator and storyboard artist, and I’ve been doing portraits and commissions for a while. I have been working freelance for about 8 years, so I do have my own customer base anyway, and a lot of them did support me on this. So I did have a core base but it wouldn’t have been enough to reach the full amount, so I needed new customers.
ZW That was my next question actually. Has Crowd Funding built new relationships, brought new people to your practice and expanded your network?
JM Most definitely. My video got over 800 hits on Kickstarter, and a lot of them were not just in the UK; I didn’t get 800 backers, but it doesn’t matter, it just matters that 800 people have seen it and knew what the project was about. I have been out and about and heard people talking about it. It is strange how it starts as such a personal thing, I had started it just to improve my drawing and I started showing them to people and uploading them on Facebook, and quickly got quite a big following of people wanting to buy them and suggesting an exhibition.
ZW Have you maintained any of the new contacts that you’ve made?
JM I have, and I also did drawing workshops at the exhibition, so now I have a class starting up at the end of April, where new customers will be coming. New customers came to the exhibition and gave me their email addresses, so I added them to my newsletter.
ZW So have any additional, unexpected opportunities arisen from the campaign?
JM Well, from the exhibition I got more commissions, quite big commissions. Also through Kickstarter I met new Journalists, they approached me and I approached them. You have to find bloggers as well as Facebook, the more people you can get talking about your Kickstarter campaign, the better. But I had to keep an equilibrium, because I didn’t want to use all my contacts on the Kickstarter campaign when I would need them later for the exhibition as well. So I just used the ones that were suited to each thing. It’s a bit cheeky to ask someone to cover your Kickstarter campaign, and then, two months later ask someone to cover your exhibition.
ZW Had you considered approaching any other funding bodies, or using a different method of fund raising?
JM Another friend of mine, who is an artist, used Indiegogo, and so I did look at Indiegogo, but I think because I knew more about Kickstarter, it seemed the best option for me. Kickstarter has more restrictions, on Indiegogo you can start pretty much any campaign. On Kickstarter you have to have approval, if you tick all their boxes then the approval is pretty quick, even on the day. Because it’s a bigger platform I thought that I would get more exposure through Kickstarter.
ZW You mentioned earlier the benefits of Kickstarter being an International platform, was there an International response to your project?
JM There was, I had customers from Australia and Europe, I didn’t actually get customers from America, but a lot of the people who clicked the video were from America. So I didn’t get customers from the States, but I got exposure there.
ZW Have you had any contact as a result of that exposure, people that didn’t donate to the project, but have been in touch and been interested?
JM Yeah, I had a couple of emails, just saying they had seen my video and thought my project was great. Not really any offers of a gallery or anything, I got those kinds of offers from the exhibition. A gallery in Toronto did contact me, but it is so expensive to ship there… that’s another Kickstarter campaign! Mostly, though it was support from the UK and Europe, but that’s fine, it is expensive to ship overseas.
ZW Did you find using crowd funding a positive experience?
JM I did, but it was also a very stressful experience and I’m not 100% sure I’d do it again. One, I’ve done it once and I don’t want to look like I’m being greedy. I would be approaching the same people and they’ve already supported me once. It is to Kick-Start something. I am working on children’s books at the moment, so maybe a few years down the line I would use it to fund that, but for a smaller amount. It was definitely a positive experience and I learnt a lot about marketing and social media, and I am really, really glad I did it. But I was a one-man-band, it was exhausting, I stopped taking on commercial work, and had to focus on it full-time. They do warn you that it is a full-time job, and you are probably better having two or three people doing it with you. I am still dealing with my Kickstarter rewards. It takes you ages just to get your works done. If you are making a film, it is a lot easier, you just make the film and then give people copies or a poster. But I had quite a few, maybe seven different awards or something…
ZW You had 15 reward bands!
JM Yeah it was a lot! I have done it, but it has taken a bit longer. For example the book was unexpectedly delayed so I emailed people, but people were totally fine about it, which took the pressure off. But it is an ongoing thing, Kickstarter is still here with me! Also I had to hold on to artwork for the exhibition so I couldn’t send rewards straight away.
ZW When you think about the advice you were given by friends before you started crowd funding, and now looking back on your experience, what advice would you give a prospective crowd funder?
JM I would say do your homework, and do it for about three months. Make sure you research all of the crowd funding forums. Join Kickstarter, follow a lot of projects that are similar to yours and see how they went about it. It’s vital because if you go in blindfolded, you don’t really know what you are doing, unless you have researched different tactics. Like if you are going to use a ‘Thunder clap’ on Facebook, you need to plan well in advance, I didn’t have time to, but it is all about planning. You have to do the video; I’m lucky that I have worked with production companies - and this is where it helps to do freebies! So I got my video done for free! And I had done some work in Barcelona so I was able to join these bits of footage together. So if you create a story, and a really good film that people can connect to, that really helps. Because most people will get to ten seconds, get bored and stop.
ZW People have a short attention span…
JM Yeah, they do, and especially on a crowd funding website. So you have to have a really good video, and then everything you say in the video needs to be in the text underneath.
ZW Do you think there is a limit to how many times you can use crowd funding, a limit to how many times you can ask?
JM It’s a tricky one. I was thinking about this after I had finished the project. It is a great means to raise money, but to retain customers is what you are dependent on as a freelance creative, and to take advantage of someone’s generosity… If you are offering amazing rewards again, then maybe people would be ok with it. But, I think a second project would have to have a lower target, and where is the line, where do you stop asking people. I suppose they are getting a product…
ZW On one hand you have friends and family, but on the other you have customers who are more like fans…
JM Yeah, so I think maybe I would do it for a different project, like say a children’s book. But I would have to have more customers. Now I am building up my customers: Kickstarter ‘kickstarted’ that, so maybe in a couple of years I would be able to do another project where there was a completely different project. But it would need to be not so much friends and family the second time round, instead more of a business.
ZW What do you think the different motivations of your backers were?
JM I would have to say that there was not one single person that donated without asking for a reward. It’s a good thing, they all wanted a piece of my art. But that was it, they all wanted a piece of my artwork, that’s what motivated them – that they could have something to keep and something that was original, and if not original there was other merchandise. Towards the end of the campaign I think everyone was just wanting to be involved and be a part of it. I think that is linked to its success, people having a drive to be part of the campaign. A lot of people were following and watching the count down, there’s a lot of excitement. There was a customer who even though I was over the target, he wanted to be my last bidder!
ZW Unlike some other projects, I noticed that you did have a couple of big bidders.
JM Yes, I was very fortunate. One was an existing customer, and another was a friend of a friend who supports a lot of Kickstarter projects and has become a very good patron.
ZW So finally, any last comments, and would you use Kickstarter again?
JM I would actually. I would use it again, but for a different project. Something probably a bit smaller and probably not an exhibition, because I’ve done that and I would now try and find other means. I would definitely do it again but probably in a more business focused way: trying to develop more customer relations and sell things. It was a positive experience, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend it to anyone. As long as you have a good product, good rewards, and you make the customer or backer feel like they are really in it with you. Once you have someone’s excitement, that’s when the ball starts rolling and it’s really fun, but be prepared for hard work, sleepless nights. There is an app on your phone so you are always on it, you have to answer your messages, so I was constantly on Kickstarter for a month. Also the timing is important, they say 30 days is optimum, too long and it dwindles, you need pressure.
Summary of Jane Moore's Project
- Project Title: Sketch a Day Project
- Crowd funding platform: Kickstarter
- Initiator: Jane Moore
- About the Initiator: An independent, professional artist
- Associated with other institutions: No
- Arts Council Support: No
- Goal: £7,000
- Actual: £8,556
- Date successfully funded: 11th December 2014
- Total number of backers: 113
- Number of Reward Bands: 15
For more information on Jane's work please follow the links below:
Research conducted by Zara Worth
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