We at Singularitee have long believed that Kickstarter is a potentially amazing tool. At its best, it allows the "long tail" theory of business to prove itself... if you have enough "true fans," you can support your business without needing to adulterate it to roll in the dough. The majority of Kickstarter projects suggest this very thing: people who believe in your work may just be willing to spend a little extra to support you directly. That might be the most important thing we can learn as artists and art lovers, of any medium... if we foster the right kind of fans, we can create on our own rules without having to give in to the masses. Or we can sell our soul for every last penny and then cry about how we "have to". If only more of us would realize the power of avoiding the latter.
But I digress. This is a story of heroism, and while inspiration must come in part from the knowledge that we are not yet heroes, it should be dosed most liberally through realizing that we can be. And that is where Seibei comes in. Seibei is a brand known not for its name so much as its trademarks, specifically the classic Sandwich Dinosaur. The content is often weird, usually geeky, but always feels like an honest exposure of a fun loving artist's psyche. Most important, it's original. You can get Sandwich Dino knockoffs, if you really hate America that much, and sure, you can question the humor in the slogans, but you can't really say you saw it first elsewhere, unless you didn't know of Seibei when you saw it first. Seibei is far from being the first indie line out there, but along with Fullbleed, it's among the first I think of when it comes to successful, artist-run, non-brand-reliant brands. People doing something that is about the work that comes from them first and the title second. So you know that I have to give props and support where due to that sort of site.
Well, here's our chance to do so. Not too long ago, the line's founder had his van stolen at a trade show (along with all his stock), which sucks, to put it mildly. The van was recovered, but the stock was gone. For an indie line, a van full of product is a devastating, possibly company destroying loss. Unless you've got a Kickstarter and some loyal fans. With under $1000 to reach his goal, and only 2 days into the funding project, Seibei has almost hit its goal. We highly recommend heading over to the Kickstarter page and helping out. Even if they hit the goal early, you can keep pledging, so get in there and make this even more of a success. $25 gets you a t-shirt. A measely $650 gets you more cloth than your crane wife can weave. Any donation gives you the satisfaction of helping out the guys who truly deserve it.
Of course, maybe you only want one shirt, but also want to help out some other amazing projects. I scanned the site, and to help you avoid the hundreds of shoddy films begging desperately for your dollars, here are some of my favorite projects being supported right now.
The big deal for the big spenders is this: A Desktop Jellyfish Tank. Now, you can certainly put in $50 for what appears to be a decent Jellyfish tee, but for almost 100 of the backers, there's no substitute for the $350 tank package, which comes with a $50 voucher toward your eventual brood of awesome jellyfish. It's not a project for the faint of funds to fund, but with over 11 times as many pledges as their original goal, you definitely know you're going to get your rewards, and be able to wow your friends at this year's Christmas party.
If you've been looking for a unique addition to your home that serves a bit more of a purpose, consider supporting the Endangered Alphabets project. Your money will go toward preserving culture (yknow, the stuff people do away from their technology), keeping a record of the alphabets used in dying languages before those languages go kaput. It's like an artful Rosetta stone, making sure our increasingly homogenized culture doesn't completely kill the traditions and history of those enclaves of people who still respect the past. And hey, you can get the word "Words" carved in Balinese script for less than the price of a jellyfish tank! Education is priceless, and the only way we can be educated at all, especially in a culture of misinformation, is to have the facts preserved.
Of course, for others of us, we want something more practical, but also a safe investment. If so, I suggest you learn chiptune with the Rockit 8 bit Synth Kit. It is a kit to turn a specially crafted circuit board into the most 80s instrument since the Keytar. Kits range from the ultimate DIY (a circuit board, a list of what you'll need to turn it into a synth, and how to to it) to the fully assembled (for a measly $200). Best of all, it's already fully funded. If you've ever wanted to compose video game music, but felt analog instruments were too passe, your calling is here.
What Kickstarter is really all about, though, is supporting the fringes. Fringes like the Penguin Hat. There's not much I can say about the penguin hat that isn't immediately said in the picture, really. It is a warm-looking hat with a penguin atop it. Sure to be a staple for hipster ski trips and yankee swaps for years to come, the concept appeals to my sense of the absurd in a big way. I am not yet so jaded to try to suggest I would not laugh heartily to see one of these in the wild. If the idea finds its backers, it most certainly deserves to come to fruition.
The idea that I'm most intrigued by, however, quite surprised me by being a video game. In the Dark is probably not something I'd be intrigued by at first glance, with it's darkly-cute lead character reminding me a little too much of the worst trends of modern cartooning, but what sucked me in was the gameplay. In the Dark relies quite strongly on Light. It is the duality of how light is used which makes the puzzles look truly unique... while every day objects treat light as the nebulous entity it is to us, blocking beams which cannot penetrate them, the shadowy world of the main character treats the light as solid. Beams can be walked up, and can block passages. They can drive off other shadow creatures. They can be blocked by objects, turned on and off as needed, and generally interacted with as a huge part of the landscape. Maybe I've just been out of the gaming loop for a while, but I can't help but be intrigued to explore this world. Like all innovations, though, it's not remotely as popular as its ideas dictate it should be. I highly recommend giving your support to Seibei, but if you can spare an extra $20, toss it these guys' way. Innovation is never simply about new product. Sometimes you need to redefine what that product stands for.