Kickstarter Project: T.A.G. (Teen Art Gallery)

Today I was at the re:working conference and one of the speakers, Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer of VivaKi, explained that you don’t defeat the prevailing system by railing against it, but by doing it better (or by showing the prevailing system how they can make more money by doing it better).  It was an intriguing idea and felt relevant to the Kickstarter Project I backed this week: T.A.G. (Teen Art Gallery).

The art world is not the most welcoming of sub-cultures, especially to young outsiders. This is unfortunate for many reasons of course, but all the picketing and pleas in the world isn’t going to change the situation.  T.A.G. provides an entry point for kids. Their mission statement is as follows:

For some young-adults, the art world– full of white walls, art dealers and established artists–can be intimidating. We may

T.A.G. Founder, Audrey Banks

have difficulty approaching this world even if we are well endowed  in both maturity and talent. Our difficulty is partly due to the lack of knowledge that coincides with the limiting environment assigned to us because of our age. T.A.G.’s goal is to eliminate this limitation when present and provide fellow teenaged-students with the opportunity to take part in displaying their works in a gallery. T.A.G. reaches out to all young artists so that they are not alone in figuring out the process of showing their work in a gallery setting.

The continued growth and evolution of any industry is contingent upon an influx of new, fresh voices and yet those in power are often hesitant to give up their power and influence because the new represents a threat. It’s important to support projects like this one so that art and culture continue to be replenished by young voices. Here’s a video from the New York Times from 2011:

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Kickstarter Project: theNewerYork Lit Mag

Print is dead. You’ve all heard this, you may have even read the in-no-way-ironic book. But I don’t buy it. Here’s what I think is dead: Bad writing, poor design and crappy business models. Not coincidentally, most books, magazines and newspapers suffer from at least one, and usually two or three, of these things.

Proposed cover for theNewerYork - Numa Amun Citadelle des sens (Vert) 2007–9 Courtesy Illingworth Kerr Gallery

There are no traditionally print outlets that I didn’t read, that I now read because they are available online or on a mobile device. Pubs like Rolling Stone or Sports Illustrated stopped being relevant to me long ago, not because I’m not in their target demo, but because the quality of their product is meh.  Why would being able to read them on my phone change that?

Similarly, many newspapers suffer from poor design – they’re not visually appealing or informative. When you add the price, or the fact that they’re publishing the wrong type of content based on their distribution model (weekly, just once a day…), you begin to realize that it’s not the tangible quality (or at least not just the tangible quality) that is the problem.

I prefer to read great content like The Economist, Monocle, The Watchmen, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Fast Company and others in hard copy form.

So I was intrigued by theNewerYork Lit Mag, which is clearly trying to bring a different sensibility to the print periodical.  Here’s how they describe themselves:

This is our experiment. We publish lists, fictional glossaries, internet forums, classified ads, post-cards, love letters, aphorisms, fragments, punctuationless stories, upside down stories, and other absurdities. 

Our first issue, which was funded on Kickstarter, turned out wonderful, our second issue will be exponentially better. Having established a strong distribution base in independent bookstores and boutiques in New York City, Los Angeles, and Paris (see our website for details) as well as a good relationship with writers and printers, this next issue will have higher quality writing, higher quality art, and twice the amount of narratives.

For submissions we place ads in newspapers, online, in cafes, with stickers, over Twitter and also search through short fiction blogs. Our writers and artists come from all over the world.

Here’s their Kickstarter video:

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This is where creativity is fostered. Outlets like NewerYork are what let people take risks and be rewarded for those risks. It’s important for things like this to exist, because with them, we end up with a world of not just crappy newspapers and magazines, but crappy content regardless of format. Please swing over and consider giving them some of your hard earned shekels.


Kickstarter Projects: On Your Mark, Get Set, Mow!

For the fifth week of the Y&R Kickstarter program I’ve chosen to back On Your Mark, Get Set, Mow!, a film about the world of lawn mower racing.

The project itself is interesting on several levels. Independent filmmaking has a certain truth to it that you don’t get with the latest Transformers or G.I. Joe installment. When you strip away the budgets, the special effects and the movie stars all you are left with is story. Story reveals a different type of culture, one that is rooted in human truths.  This particular film, in addition to capturing a unique part of American culture, also focuses on a family’s struggle with Huntington’s Disease.

Get your mowtor running...

I found the project worthy of support, but upon doing some additional research I became fascinated with the infrastructure of lawn mower racing in this country. The U.S. Lawn Mower Racing Association has numerous sponsors, a 19-race season and has been broadcast nationally on FoxSportsNet.

It’s easy to focus on the Super Bowl or Katy Perry when talking about culture, but it’s important to remember that outside of New York, L.A. and other major metropolitan areas, culture is being created. Culture that helps to explain the Occupy Movement or surprise wins of Rick Santorum or the popularity of Farmville. I wish there was a USLMRA event close to me, I’d go check it out in a heartbeat. In lieu of that, here’s a video:

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There are a couple of days left to back this Kickstarter project, pledge your support here.

Kickstarter Projects: Portable Park IV

For the fourth week of the Y&R Kickstarter program I’ve chosen to back Portable Park IV by Bonnie Ora Sherk & artists from Otis. This is a really interesting project that combines contemporary space, historical environmental art and art education in an intriguing mix.

The fantastic thing about kickstarter is the amazing breadth of creative ideas out there. Yes, there are plenty of people looking for funding for an album or movie, but you also find projects like this that engage people and their surroundings in an interesting way.  Reassessment of environmental spaces is a theme we’ll continue to see more of, both at a govenmental level, but also from the private sector. Art also plays a role in this discussion and this project, along with Sherks’ work from the 1970s is a great example.

Keep tabs on all the Kickstarter Projects we’re backing on our Y&R New York Kickstarter Profile page.

Kickstarter Projects: For The Win! – Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas, Aliens and Monkeys


For The Win, FTW!

For the third week of the Y&R Kickstarter program I’ve chosen to back For The Win! – Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas, Aliens and Monkeys. I love this project for the name alone – it speaks to so much of our culture.  The term, “for the win!” has an interesting place in our culture by itself, with an apparently disputed etymology. Personally, I subscribe to the Hollywood Squares theory.

Of course, Zombies, Pirates, Ninjas and Aliens have also all cemented places in popular culture. About a year and a half ago I wrote about these archetypes, and how they continue to cycle back up in popular culture, independently. This game says, screw, let’s mash it all up together, which is very much in keeping with the cultural trend of recombinance that Faris lays out.

This also speaks to my notion of the Cultural Singularity Paradox. All these once discreet concepts converging and mashing up makes it difficult for us to know where future cultural trends will emerge from.

There’s still some time to support this game, and if you are a pop culture fan, I hope you will.

Here’s a preview of the game:

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Kickstarter Projects: The Written World

For the second week of the Y&R Kickstarter program I’ve chosen to back The Written World. This project is described as a multiplayer storytelling game which lives on the Internet. 

You had me at storytelling game. I’m a big believer in both of those concepts, so when they are combined I’m always intrigued. The Written World is the brainchild of Simon Fox of playlab London, Toby Green, Anna Fogg and Shelly Lozdon. The game itself is too textured and detailed for me to explain here, so I encourage you to read the Kickstarter page, but the underlying concept delivers an innovative approach to narrative and gameplay. Here’s the video:

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There’s clearly been a tremendous amount of thought put into this, and that’s one of the key lessons of game design that I’ve learned. The pre-production time is enormous, both on the creative side and in terms of game mechanics. The Written World creators appear to be expert world builders. Take a look at the design of the game characters:

The Written World Game Character Design


The gameplay is designed around collaborative writing by both “the narrotor” and “the protagonist.” See the run of the gameplay here. Ultimately, nothing in this project feels like a rehash to me, and that’s the sort of project I’m looking to support. This one still needs a bit of your help, so please consider backing this one.

You can also read this interview of Simon Fox by Emily Short for more on the game, as well as these other posts:

The Huffington Post:

The Atlantic:

Hero by Clicking:

So it Goes: