Crowdfunding is democratising access to the interconnected world of artistic and technological innovation.
These days, it feels like anyone can launch a creative project and spring it upon the world. Well, that’s because it’s true – the recent surge in popularity of crowdfunding platforms has been a game-changer for artists at every level, across nearly every discipline, worldwide.
No longer must a creative’s fate be dependent on competing for limited pools of artist grants or praying for an angel investor from on high – rather, they can use the internet to appeal directly to their friends, fans and total strangers, letting the people decide which projects are worthy of their investment.
Simply put, this is artistic democracy in its purest form – and it’s working.
Any entrepreneuring artist with a bold idea – be it a flashy photo project, a transformative new technology, a controversial performance piece, you name it – can log onto popular crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo (there are many), state their case for why their project is important, and then sit back and watch as the “crowd” drops seed money into their digital bucket.
With the promise of contribution level-based rewards like special recognition, perks, free products or even an ownership stake in a new company, many investors are willing to shell out some serious quid for promising ideas.
Needless to say, the U.K. crowdfunding scene is booming. Already, over 2,000 companies have received more than £175 million in funding since 2012, according to Crowdfund Insider, which doesn’t include one-off projects – Kickstarter itself has doled out more than $1.5 billion USD (£1 billion) to over 80,000 projects, much more than the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.
What’s more, the industry at large was anticipated to reach $34.4 billion (£21 billion) by the end of 2015. With these kinds of numbers floating around, it’s not too hard to imagine how your new project could easily end up with a share of this sizeable pie.
But we must admit, it’s not all sunshine and roses – simply creating a crowdfunding page doesn’t guarantee investment, and if you fail to raise your investment goal, you risk losing the whole pot. Raising money online itself requires a fair degree of artistry, and at minimum a knack for self-promotion and social media savviness (though some successes do manage to defy explanation).
The real reason we’re so excited about all of this is that crowdfunding provides market access to talented artists and innovators who might not find success on more conventional pathways. And according to a recent report by Harvard Business School, the “crowd” tends to be incredibly tasteful in its choosings – experienced art critics and grant boards broadly acclaim crowdfunding winners, especially projects that are too small or experimental to receive grant money.
In particular, we were incredibly impressed by the overwhelming response surrounding the #WeLoveAtl project – four Atlanta based photographers pooled their resources to transform an old delivery truck into a “community-driven mobile photography gallery show.”
The project quickly turned into an legitimate movement, with over 16,000 hashtagged photos and nearly 35,000 mobile photography enthusiasts following the project on Instagram. The photos are pretty phenomenal:
Crowdfunding has been a game-changer for the more entrepreneurial-minded innovators as well, opening the door for some seriously cool new products and gadgets. In particular, we’re pumped about technology that’s having a big impact on consumer-level photographers across the globe.
Take Kickstarter success Lumu, a simple and sleek camera light meter that plugs directly into the charger port of your iPhone. “Color Temperature, White Balance, Flash and Ambient Exposure or Illuminance. You can measure all of them with one simple device and one simple app”
Amateur photographers and experts alike can now capture professional-grade shots metered with unprecedented accuracy, anyplace, anytime and on-the-go.
Another project that that caught our eye was Sphericam, a portable, 360° camera that records in 4K for virtual reality filming (and which also looks incredible in 2D). Frankly, it reminds us of our own 360° Bullet Rig, and we firmly believe that photographers and eventgoers everywhere need more remarkable tech like that in their lives:
The truth is, we at The Flash Pack have built our entire business on this notion of democratising access to previously inaccessible, amazingly cool photo technology. Our hope is that as these technologies become increasingly available to the everyday consumer, more and more people will discover the joy and flexibility of photography as an artistic medium.