Category Archives: Kickstarter

Is Julian Assange the New Pandora?

A strange thing happened when I successfully launched my picture book, Pandora, on Kickstarter  this year.

Kickstarter is a crowd-funding site, where people can pledge to support a project to allow the creator time and funds to complete it.

Flushed with success, I contacted all the people in the Cherished Supporters tier, asking them for posting details, etc. and also for the name to print on the Cherished Supporters Page of the book.

Can you imagine my surprise, when I came to lay out the artwork for the page, to find that one of the Cherished  Supporters was Julian Assange the founder of WikiLeaks!

I contacted the garbled, jumble of numbers and letters on the anonymous gmail address of the kickstarter supporter and asked – “Are you actually Julian Assange or a well-wisher?”

I felt that I should add a note of explanation to the book package I was about to send to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. There might be security issues, especially as the book was sealed in an envelope with a “Do Not Open!” sticker.

It was a special, signed, first-edition with all sorts of warning labels and seals to prevent anyone, but the most curious, from opening the book and finding out what happens.

An anonymous email came back approving idea, explaining that the supporter wanted to send the book to JS as a gift. No reason why. No suggestion of being a supporter or an opponent.

I sent the book to the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London, with a covering letter explaining what was in the package and why. I’ve not heard back from anyone at all and the book has not been returned. I’ve no idea how it was received. I’ve no idea why it was sent!

Since publication, and presenting the story to both children and adults, I’ve thought about the story of Pandora a lot, and children have helped me take a sideways look at it too.

I’ve removed the Eve story, the creation of woman as the cause of all evil in the world. That just has no place in the world today. The story is left with the themes of insatiable curiosity, disobedience and just plain minding your own business.

I agonised over wether I should be telling young children to always do as they are told. For a five year old, that’s generally very good advice. But there are times when it’s not just good, but right to shout out loud about something that is wrong.

But age and curiosity should breed wisdom too, a sense of knowing when to keep quiet – to mind your own business. Or knowing when to lift the lid of the box and release the powers that you may never have imagined possible.

The story of Pandora is a warning: Be careful what you ask for, be careful what you seek! If you are completely minded to go ahead and unleash something you don’t quite understand, be prepared for all the unintended consequences. Your brain is not big enough to compute the potential good or bad that you might set free into the world nor that which might come back to haunt you.

The children I’ve read this to have taught me that the world must have been a very boring place before Pandora opened the box. All the bad things the world had never know before act as mirrors to all the good things. Yin and Yang. Counterbalances. Without one, the other means little.

Pandora also released hope into the world – but, unknowingly, she also released the powerful and destructive force of creativity that formed the world we live in today.

How does that relate to Julian Assange? I’m not sure. It’s a long game that history will eventually decide upon. Maybe he too will become a myth – Mandora?

You can buy signed copies of Pandora here.

Or get them from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S81IiL

What is Kickstarter? What is Crowdfunding.

Sometimes I mention that I’m doing a Kickstarter and I get a fixed smile and glazed expression in response.

What seems so simple and obvious to me, it turns out, is still a bit of a mystery to many.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform.

Okay, so what is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is when fans, collectors, family and friends pledge an amount of money to a creator to allow them to make something and, in return, they get a copy of that thing and maybe some other stuff too, depending on the reward level they choose.

Kickstarter is a website that allows creators to organise a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds so they can create their project, with enough money to buy time, materials and postage.

Why would someone back a Kickstarter campaign?

It’s tough being a creative person. Creative types are talented people, mostly working alone, but essentially they are entrepreneurs creating things out of their heads. Like you, they need to eat and have a roof over their heads and have space time and materials to make stuff.

Like any other business they need capital funding to get their projects off the ground. By supporting a Kickstarter campaign you can help creators become successful people who fill the world with wonderful things and new ideas and, in return, have something cool, interesting or collectable to show for it, as well as the great feeling that you are doing something positive and helpful and being part of the process.

What do you get out of a Kickstarter campaign?

As well a stuff, you get a direct connection with an artist, an author, a creator, a brand and become a part of their creative process – a collaborator in a sense. Great kickstarter projects will involve their backers all along the way, to make them feel appreciated and part of something creative. That is fun in and of itself.

Is it risky?

Kickstarter is not an investment scheme (though your reward might turn out to be very collectible). It’s not a charity either. Accidents and illnesses happen, but otherwise Kickstarter people are highly driven and motivated to make amazing stuff and really want to create their vision and deliver it.

Kickstarter themselves do a lot of due diligence confirming that creators are who they say they are and deliver a secure payment system. Kickstarter take a small and equitable cut.

You can look to see the creator’s track record. Have they done this before and delivered? That’s always a good sign. Look at their previous campaigns and see how they went. Do your own due diligence.

So how do I back a kickstarter project?

First, choose a Kickstarter project and look at what is being offered, There will be different reward levels down the right hand side. Choose one and pledge to pay the amount for that reward level. (It’s not a shop – you aren’t buying a product – you are pledging to support the creator as they make something in return for a reward).

You will not be charged immediately, so you can change your mind later and withdraw. A few days after the campaign is over, you will be notified, your card will be charged and the creator will be in touch to get mail addresses and any other details.

If it is an all or nothing campaign, the target amount must be met or the creator gets nothing and the campaign fails. In that case you will not be charged. That’s  sad 🙁

Is it fun?

Yes! And that is what it should be. Creators are out to surprise, entertain, enthuse and delight you with their ideas. Go with it and join in with the spirit of creativity and be part of something fun, personal and individual. Kickstarter projects are not on the high street, they are straight out of the creator’s head and eventually delivered to you door. Perfect, personal and unusual gifts perhaps?

So, do you have a campaign going?

I thought you’d never ask! Yes, I’m making a signed, numbered limited edition picture book with extras called Pandora. Check it out – I’d love to have you back me and share the whole creative process with you through video, blog posts and possibly live chats!

If you still have questions – then feel free to ask!

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