Monday, December 3, 2012

My thoughts on Kickstarter

I was just having a conversation with one of my concept art friends on Vent when the subject of Kick Starter came up. Recently there is a very famous artist who started a Kick Starter. A notable fantasy artist who's done work for Dungeons and Dragons is attempting to have a book printed featuring work that he's done over the course of his career. The video contained footage of the artist telling the public about himself in a voice over while scenes of him riding his motorcycle was shown. This artist has been in the industry for a very long time but apparently one of my friends felt that his Kick Starter campaign was very self-indulgent, especially when he learned that one of the prizes was to have dinner with this artist and his family at the cost of 10k or 100k ( I can't remember which).

Anyways I spent some time listening to his opinion which could be distilled down to This artist obviously has a big-head. Combined with the fact that there were actual Kick Starters that did in fact pay the maximum amount for the dinner with this fantasy artist didn't didn't help matters. After that, he downplayed how well-known the artist was in the fantasy art industry by inferring that he got a close friend to donate a large sum of money on the kick starter in order to make the Kick Starter look good. 

A few days after that I spoke to another concept artist friend who proposed that the Kick Starter Phenomenon was a fad and a bubble waiting to burst in the next year.  He mentioned that more often times then not a lot of the companies that make campaigns for the creation of games, comics, board games, etc probably havnt don't any professional work so they arnt disciplined enough to set any sort of schedule for these products to be completed. He said that more then likely these creators are not taking into account how much time it will take with small development teams to make these products and that ultimately the consumer will be the one that ends up paying for there glorified hobby that they don't take seriously.

My take on things...
I try to approach anything that I do with a certain even-handedness.  It unfortunately appears to me that my friend is having a case of sour grapes. This isn't to say that I don't like my internet friend. He is a good guy in my opinion. Or at least as well as you can determine from someone that you don't live near. That being said, it's totally reasonable for this artist to create a campaign to have his book printed. This artist to my knowledge has been in the industry for a long time. He's been published by the owners of Dungeons and Dragons for several years and to my knowledge was one of the artist that did art work for Dungeons and Dragons first edition. It goes without saying that he is a notable figure in the industry. Maybe he's not a  household name like Frazetta but someone notable regardless of that fact. Going along with that there is a certain level of fandom that goes along with being that famous. If a artist can leverage that popularity to his financial advantage then I don't see that as having a big-head. Actually, I'd consider it a little dull to not take advantage of that popularity as long as it's done tastefully.

Now there may be some people who would think that position is debatable. I personally don't see anything that's big-headed about an artist that's work in the industry for decades starting a campaign on Kick Starter and giving a little information about himself and his hobbies. Let's face it, All fantasy's artist hobbies probably include the fact that you like to draw. The problem is that were not one dimensional beings, were people and as such we have other interest outside of art. Him showing footage about him riding his cycle is merely sharing a part of him that most fans wouldn't know about and offering something different in his video campaign then the creator working on a painting which is sorta common now

As far as the bubble bursting scenario goes....

There will always be an element in any industry where you'll have creators that are going to try to find the "easy" way of generating capital. There is an argument that there will be some contraction in terms of how much in funding these projects will generate. That's to be suspected. What my other friend doesn't take into account that there success on Kick Starter has and continues to be when you are offering a product with a realistic timeline and a product at the end to go with it. I think the Kick Starter audience will be able to determine which is which. There's people after all and people tend to become very informative when spending money is involved. :)