So I decided to start my own Patreon campaign, the crowdfunding site where you can get regular support, instead of a one-time sum of to a single project.
I believe that crowdfunding is a very important part of financing culture in the future. As the copyright-industries claw on to the fragments of their existence, their attacks on sharing, whether it be Pirate Bay or fans or libraries, will become increasingly unbearable. The already unfair relationship between distributors, whether they be Netflix or Spotify or your friendly neighborhood comics-publisher, will get even more skewed to the disadvantage creators. The only hope of original, artistic endeavors will be through alternative ways of funding, or idealism.
Idealism isn’t enough. So we must investigate other possibilities. Luckily, the possibilities are greater than ever, even if the competition is fierce. Through digital downloads and print-on-demand, there’s the possibility of selling products or merchandise without any upfront costs. There’s pre-orders, to gage interest. You can sell your product directly to fans all over the world. You can tutor people all over the world. You can establish direct relationships, express your viewpoint and persona, and use that to get opportunities to do talks or lectures or courses. You can collaborate all over the world. In other words, you can use every part or your person and profession to generate income. And then there’s crowdfunding, where the ones who believe in you can fund you and take part in the creation.
The problem is, of course, that in most cases none of these are enough in themselves.
My hope, and plan, is to rely on three pillars of income, and thus be able to start saying no to freelance work that is not beneficial. I write a bit about all of this in the description at Patreon, but I want to elaborate a bit. I’m the kind of person that wants to be the best. For a lot of time, I enjoyed doing every kind of freelance work, working in an eclectic mix of styles. But I’ve realized that I can never become the best illustrator of mascots for kindergartens. I can never be the best caricaturist for politicians and lawyers birthday present. And after a while, this is soul-crushing work, not only working with people who have no appreciation or taste for art, but also seeing that everything you do is something everyone including you could do better. And jack-of-all trades only get the work that no one else wants.
I want to work where I can be the best. The best at what I do, and more importantly be the best I can be. I’m probably the world’s greatest live extreme metal artist already, if only because no one else is stupid enough to try. I know I’m on to something with my Lovecraft adaptations. I have the ability to draw some scary and disturbing shit. And to my great surprise, always feeling like cover-artwork was something I suck at, I’m suddenly getting a lot of praise for my metal covers. All these things are things I love, and that I want to focus on. And I need to focus on it for years and years if I’m ever to get close to my ambitions.
But enough about my bloated ego. The three pillars of income… The first is crowdfunding. Being on Patreon is a start, but I’ll probably try out other campaigns as well for single projects, whether it be to cover print-costs or to hire help, or just because my income isn’t at a stable enough point.
The second is selling originals. This is where I’ve come the furthest yet. All through October I’ve done the #inktober challenge and sold the originals within minutes of posting them. But I want to sell everything as cheap as possible, to allow for people all over the world to afford my art. And let’s face it, 30$ times 33 sales in a month isn’t enough to live in Norway. But it’s a really good start, and if I can continue similar sums per month, on all sorts of original art, that part of the puzzle is in place.
The last part is digital downloads and print on demand. This is my weakest link. I need to find a way to up this, a lot. Which takes time, and promotion. Promotion, not my strongest point. Most people probably don’t even know they can buy prints at my free gallery. So… where I previously released my digital comics directly for free in print-size, I now release them on my Sellfy page for sale, still under open licenses. I don’t think this is a conflict with my views on copyright and free art. Both copyright and freedom of information starts when the work is released. And I don’t think it’s unfair to make people pay 1$ for the right to share, make derivative works, upload to Pirate Bay, or sell themselves. But this will be under constant revision, and my Patreon backers will get free access to all in some form or another.
In addition to that, I hope to continue collaborating with artists and people I respect. Working with Vreid and Solstafir and Vinterbris and Oak Pantheon has been like a dream. I love their music, I respect them as artists, and I get an insane grade of creative freedom. But bands are not rich animals, and if I’m to put the time and effort into these projects that they deserve the income will merely be a blip on the radar.
Now all three pillars need to get up to 1000$ – 2000$ each, for this to be enough to make a good living here, considering taxes, debts, and all the expenses of being a father. Currently, only the original artwork-sales comes close, but that’s new and uncertain. So there’s a hell of a lot of work left, and probably a decent chunk of luck, if I’m ever to reach my goals. But I feel confident.
I think my goal is a good one. I think that showing that you can make good art, and a good living, without enforcing restrictive copyright, is an important step towards reforming the system to allow for sharing, freedom of information, and free-speech. And I think such a free system can be created in a way where artists get a fair share of their produce, and art can finance itself.
And even in a system such as I advocate, with free art and fair pay, crowdfunding will be necessary. Some things worth making will always fall between the cracks, and crowdfunding is their only chance. It’s a profoundly democratic system, and for all it’s flaws it is the very best way we’ve had of financing art. Ever.
And I know that a lot of people who like my art probably don’t care about this , or disagree with me. But if you want to see more of my art, and see it improve, then I hope you’ll support me. If I get my income up to an acceptable level, I don’t have to live hand to mouth anymore, I can do the Lovecraft adaptations I dream of, I can do more special art-events like #inktober, I can release more free art, I can make better CD-covers and participate in more awesome anthologies and collaborations, and I can afford to go to concerts and festivals to draw without fearing the costs.
Well, fuck me! Long post! Anyhow… I hope you’ll consider supporting me. Every dollar helps. Thank you for your time.