by Isobel Harry
GORE BAY— In the August 19 edition of this paper, we reported on a Kickstarter online campaign that was ‘crowdfunding’ to produce a limited edition of an illustrated art memoir, entitled “Scrapbook: a story of art” by Gore Bay artist Jack Whyte. Designed by Jack’s son Dylon and daughter-in-law Ashley Whyte, who provided technical, editing and promotional expertise, the campaign to raise funds was a risk they felt was worth taking. The fact that ‘The Tragedy of the Asia,’ a previous book produced by Jack and Dylon Whyte is now on the Great Lakes Marine History curriculum of Bowling Green University in Ohio provided an added impetus.
With a deadline of September 7 to reach their goal of $14,000 to produce the 456-page “ Scrapbook ” in an edition of 100 copies, the nail-biting had started in earnest by the time they had their ‘ Scrapbook Party’ two days before.
The Whytes’ shop in Gore Bay’s Harbour Centre was full on Saturday afternoon, September 5, as people came to view a slide show about the making of the book, to browse the gallery of Jack Whyte original paintings and paper collages and to meet the artist. “We got lots of pre-orders for the book,” says Ashley. “It was crowded in here, with the spillover milling in the hallway.”
“The Island can be a challenge,” continues Ashley, “in terms of promotion and marketing. We did lots of advertising, we promoted the “ Scrapbook ” campaign to hundreds of people, in person and often by phone, but the major work was done through networking and on social media, on Facebook and on our Kickstarter site. Sharing is a big part of how we get the word out.”
By the afternoon of the party, the funding goal had been 35 percent met. “We knew it would be difficult to meet our target, but we still felt every potential was possible,” adds Ashley.
“I was talking to a lot of people, and so was Dylon, showing the book, the original work, and making the presentation, so I didn’t even spend any time with a woman who said she was “a big fan” of Jack’s.”
The woman looked at an original Jack Whyte piece hanging on the wall of the shop. Entitled “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” it is a collage of hundreds of intricate indigo paper cuts illustrating an old cabin illuminated by a high yellow moon. It is also the work that was being offered as a reward for the top level of backer, what the Whytes called their “Cornerstone Contributor,” in the Kickstarter campaign.
The number of backers climbed to 43. With only twelve hours to go, another backer stepped up. The pledge took the project above the set goal, for a total of $14,313. It was the “big fan.” Suddenly, they were very successfully 102 percent-funded.
“We’re an example for others,” enthuses Jack. “We showed people it can be done! We had the proof to show them, the book was real.” New to social media and Kickstarter, Jack Whyte is a convert: “This is democracy in action!” he crows. “Crowdfunding allows artists to pursue what they want to do without having to rely on the grant system that has been crippled by misuse.”
“We will publish 100 books and then our job will be to fill the pre-orders and sell the others online and in the shop, and to create other books. The book is $119 plus shipping, which adds in most cases another $20. The Kickstarter funds allow us to cover all production costs, and the cost of the Kickstarter campaign itself,” says Ashley.
Donations to the “ Scrapbook ” campaign averaged $125, higher than average for a contribution to Kickstarter. “The project could not have happened without the contributions of each and every one of our 44 backers. We are grateful to each backer, each amount of generosity is equally important to the success of the “ Scrapbook ” project.”
“ Scrapbook : a story of art” will be available for sale at Whytes Art Gallery and Cultural Gift Shop in Gore Bay’s Harbour Centre at the end of October. For more information, visit www.whytesonline.com.