I am not overly familiar with the art of Amanda Palmer, I confess. But I sure like this:
When you’re a crowdfunding artist, it shouldn’t matter what your choices are — as long as you’re delivering your side of the bargain: the art, the music. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re spending money on guitar picks, rent, printer paper, diapers, college loans, or the special brand of organic absinthe you use to find your late-night muse — as long as art is making it out the other side and making your patrons happy.
We’re artists — not art factories. The money we need to live is often indistinguishable from the money we need to make art.
As a newbie on the crowdfunding scene (here’s my page – please help sponsor me and get me started!), these words – and Palmer’s success on Patreon – give me great hope. My life is mine. I have my kids and I homeschool them. They have always been a huge part of my life. They’ve never been anywhere else; they have not spent a minute in daycare, and not a moment in school. They are phenomenally well educated for little people their age (really). They know their world history, their ancient myths (go Athena!), basic knowledge of all three big monotheistic religions, they know their grammar, read years ahead of what would be their “grade” levels, do old math like little bosses, develop their own particular talents, are super active physically and are getting the hang of reciting poetry in public. I’m only boasting a little bit. Truth is, it’s not that my kids are that well educated, it’s that school children tragically aren’t.
In any case, those kiddies are my life. And yes, they help inspire my work as a writer, a would-be philosopher, and documentary filmmaker. They also help with the actual work. When we traveled to England and the US for our Magna Carta documentary (successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter; we are getting ready to release it imminently), they came with us and helped with the production. They carried things, helped look for road signs, and stuck their tongues out at Bad King John. My eldest is now training with me to learn how to light a room for an interview, how to set up a camera, make sure the mic is on and recording, that the makeup and hair look fine and the ties are straight. She even has her own (old) camera to practice on. She’s enjoying this mightily, and learning all kinds of useful skills.
I have tried separating my home life from my work life. I had a job working at a TV station, being the on-air talking head weekday mornings. People say I was good at the job (I still get letters from people who say they miss me, and I left more than two years ago). But truth be told, I did not like it one bit. I mean, the job was fine most days, I enjoyed most of the work, and the fans were awesome. But the fact that my work life was separate from my home life was killing me. So I left. And in the two years since I have struggled to find my true inner identity. I’ve also had to figure out how I could continue to work while not being separated from my family.
Like Amanda Palmer (though nowhere near as successful … yet!), I came to the conclusion that asking those who like what I do to help fund my work/life existence was the way to go. I am still very new at this, and here in Canada people aren’t as quick to embrace online patronage as they are in the United States. But it’s coming, I know it. And it will be wonderful.
Being me – truly embracing the person I am, warts and kids and all – is what allows me to create. I don’t want to separate my work from the rest of my life and try to make a living selling one book or arguing with distributors one film at a time. I want the freedom to be who I am and give my content away on my website, on YouTube, wherever people can get free access for it.
I am asking those of you who like what I do to sponsor what I do and help spread the love by taking up a monthly subscription – either on PayPal or Patreon (see the sidebar for the links). I wants lots of people contributing small amounts every month. One dollar, three dollars, six dollars – whatever you can spare. By all means if you have deep pockets and are itching to contribute more, don’t let me stop you. But what I’m really hoping for is a whole bunch of normal people dropping a few bucks each month. Because that’s the best way to keep me independent.
In exchange, I promise I’ll continue being me and produce all kinds of things I hope you’ll enjoy. Deal?