Projects We Loved: 26 of Our Favorite Kickstarter-Funded Projects from 2018

Kickstarter staff share their favorite projects from the past year.

Dec 17, 2018 · 11 min read
Ebony G. Patterson, Called Up (wood, flowers, paint, and metal), 2018. Photo courtesy Todd Feebck

Kickstarter staffers back a lot of projects. Like, a lot a lot. (Shout-out to Tieg Zaharia, who backed his 5,000th project this year.) So as we prepare to say ta-ta to 2018, we’re taking a look back at some of the projects we supported that became available to read, watch, play, play with, listen to, and experience in the past year.

Among our team’s favorites: a public art campaign to spark civic engagement across the United States; a republished 1901 manual by a forgotten female pioneer of color theory; a headset-free 3D holographic display; and an obsessively engineered spoon for eating peanut butter. (We’re a fun, weird bunch.)

Read on to find out more about the projects we loved in 2018.

Marilyn Minter, SAD! (billboard), Little Rock, AR, 2018. Image courtesy Cindy Momchilov and For Freedoms

The 50 State Initiative by For Freedoms

Selected by Patton Hindle, Director of Arts, and Mil Reyes, Software Engineer

Patton says: “For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative represented a much-needed space for discourse in our politically bifurcated times. I believe that art has the ability to break down barriers and allow people to come together and find commonalities. Their 50+ artist-designed billboards ignited the country with a sense of urgency and sensitivity for fellow citizens. I’m so thrilled we were able to support Hank, Eric, and their whole team in bringing the first element of the initiative to life.”

“Art has the ability to break down barriers and allow people to come together and find commonalities.”

Mil adds: “It has a great message and impact on the lives of people who are exposed to this project. Plus, it was a one-of-a-kind project on a scale we hadn’t supported before at Kickstarter. There was a lot of work put into it to make it happen.”

The Looking Glass: A Holographic Display for 3D Creators

Selected by Mark Wunsch, VP of Engineering

“The Looking Glass presents a really amazing way to view 3D scenes away from the expensive rigs and social isolation that comes with VR. It’s introduced me to the concept of volumetric video, and it feels like such an innovative, groundbreaking space. See also: the work that Vimeo has done to live stream volumetric video directly to a Looking Glass.”

Ebony G. Patterson, Called Up (wood, flowers, paint, and metal), 2018. Photo courtesy EG Schempf

Called Up by Ebony G. Patterson

Selected by Daniel Sharp, Arts Outreach Specialist

“This public art project reclaimed an abandoned public pool in Kansas City’s Swope Park where Dr. Harry M. Gilkey used to provide hydrotherapy to children with disabilities. Now the site is a monument to those children and to Gilkey, and a space for the park’s community to reflect and learn.”

Color Problems by Emily Noyes Vanderpoel, published by Circadian Press

Selected by Alfie Palao, Community Support Manager, and Meredith Graves, Director of Music

Alfie says: “Color Problems was a book far ahead of its time that was tragically overlooked due to the author’s gender. It was brought back to life and beautifully printed by my good friends over at Circadian Press and Sacred Bones Records. I backed this for the hardcover book and a poster print of ‘A Color Analysis from a Butterfly,’ which I cannot wait to put up on my wall.”

Meredith says: “Sometimes we are afforded the opportunity to rewrite history in favor of the people who made it happen. Sacred Bones, the label behind everything from Uniform and The Men to David Lynch and John Carpenter soundtracks, did exactly that with Color Problems, a book made in partnership with Circadian Press that seeks to transfer credit for the origins of color theory back to its inventor: a wild, world-traveling spinster named Emily Noyes Vanderpoel.”

Another pick from Meredith:

Time Your Drugs by Ojala Systems

“Wu Tang may be for the children, but the members of Ojala Systems literally are the children — OK, they’re young people, based in Tucson, AZ, where they run a collective that does everything from booking shows to releasing albums, Riso-printing ultra-political zines and hand-binding notebooks, building tattoo machines, running massive community support initiatives. I was lucky enough to spend a week with them in Tucson during HOCO Fest, supporting them as they coordinated panels of local activists and artists at the MOCA Tucson, to spread information and food around the community that brought them up.”

PBspoon by Chris Herbert

Selected by Michael Stewart, Director of Food Outreach

“A month or so ago, after nearly a year of thoughtful and detailed production updates, I received my PBspoon in the mail. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to say that this is humankind’s all-time most significant achievement.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Action Figure by FCTRY

Selected by Natacha Springer, Engineering Manager

“With everything going on in the world, I really enjoyed having my RGB action figure on my desk at home as a constant reminder of what she stands for.”

Another pick from Natacha:

Sock Invaders: Video Game-Inspired Socks by Jonathan Paul

“My 11-year-old son, Max, really wanted me to mention these. They are super flashy and he feels like the coolest kid in middle school when he wears them!”

What to Send up When It goes Down by The Movement Theatre Company

Selected by Jessica Massart, Senior Performance Lead

“I’m still thinking about/feeling my way through this extraordinary new play/ritual/dance party. Playwright Aleshea Harris, with director Whitney White and producers The Movement Theatre Company, crafted a rare kind of work that shakes you to your core and continues to echo through you well after you leave the theater.”

Genusee: Eyewear Made in Flint from Recycled Water Bottles

Selected by Nick Yulman, Associate Editorial Director

“This team in Flint, MI, is making sustainable eyewear from the mountains of plastic water bottles that accumulated as a result the city’s water crisis — creating local manufacturing jobs in the process. It’s one of those elegantly simple ideas that was extremely complicated to make happen. Just got my glasses and love them.”

BSCSMX: Básicos de México. Photo by Lauren Renner

BSCSMX: Básicos de México

Selected by Célia Vermicelli, Outreach Lead Mexico

“This Mexico City-based clothing brand was created to promote a ‘low-fashion’ mode of consumption. They only design basic, long-lasting clothes that are made in Mexico. The waste generated from fabric cuts and leftover thread in their workshop is given to Agua de Luna, another Kickstarter-funded project that creates beautiful and unique products made by Mexican women in vulnerable situations.”

The 2018 New York City Pothole Art Project by Jim Bachor

Selected by Sean Leow, VP of Community Development, and Danny White, Product Designer

Sean says: “Jim Bachor’s series of pothole art projects is simply brilliant. He finds potholes plaguing our streets and fills them with beautiful glass and tile mosaics. While I will likely never come across one in person, I love the idea that someone else serendipitously will, and it will bring an unexpected smile to their face. Long live pothole vigilantes!”

Danny adds: “He turns what’s usually a blight on the street into something really beautiful.”

Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story by Posy Dixon

Selected by Lindsay Howard, Senior Manager of Creator Initiatives

“I’m so glad this film campaign helped me discover the musical genius that is Beverly Glenn-Copeland. I’ve been listening to ‘Ever New’ — and the entire Keyboard Fantasies album, really — on repeat for the past month.”

Singapore’s First Queer Zinefest

Selected by Camilla Zhang, Comics Outreach Lead

“While it’s not always enforced these days, being gay in Singapore is still illegal, and there aren’t any anti-discrimination laws in place to protect LGBTQIA+ citizens. Part of changing a legal system is changing culture. Zines are really great tools for any kind of grassroots cultural movement, and I thought it was amazing that a group of openly queer comics folk were throwing a small zine festival in Singapore. It really spoke to my belief that the reality of modern globalization is that we’re all in this together. We have a responsibility to help and celebrate one another, no matter what side of the world we’re on.”

“We’re all in this together. We have a responsibility to help and celebrate one another, no matter what side of the world we’re on.”

Another pick from Camilla:

MIND MGMT Comic Book and Read-Along Vinyl Record by Matt Kindt

“This was a really interesting project and a great example of how Kickstarter is for everyone, from first-time zinesters to more established creators who are already published by bigger comics houses. Matt Kindt’s series ‘MIND MGMT’ is published by Dark Horse. He had an idea that was outside the publisher’s wheelhouse: a read-along vinyl record that would accompany a brand new ‘MIND MGMT’ story. I love it when stories mix media, when they go the extra mile and invoke more tangible senses.”

Ursula K. Le Guin. Illustration by Emily Comfort

So Far, So Good by Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Copper Canyon Press

Selected by Rebecca Hiscott, Senior Editor, and Margot Atwell, Senior Director of Publishing

Rebecca says: “I (belatedly) got into Ursula K. Le Guin in a big way this year, tearing through The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Lathe of Heaven in a matter of days. So it was a real treat to discover Le Guin’s equally exceptional poetry. In addition to publishing her final collection of poems, Copper Canyon Press reissued her 1975 chapbook, Wild Angels, exclusively for Kickstarter backers. What an incredible literary talent.”

Margot says: “Ursula K. Le Guin is famous for her world-expanding sci-fi and fantasy novels, but many people don’t know that she was also a brilliant and accomplished poet. Before she passed away this year, she entrusted her final book of poems to Copper Canyon Press for publication. This project helps to establish her legacy as a poet as well as a fiction writer, and also supported the republication of her long out of print first poetry chapbook, which neatly bookends her incredible career.”

Another pick from Margot:

Bring Back Gothamist

“When Gothamist was shut down in 2017, New York lost one of its best sources for local news. I felt less well informed about the city I lived in without them. So when I got the opportunity to help them get up and running again as a nonprofit in partnership with WNYC, I was thrilled. I’ll never take local news for granted again: I was a Kickstarter backer and now am a regular subscriber to make sure they stay sustainable.”

Mother River: A Photobook by Yan Wang Preston

Selected by Evan Palmer, Engineering Recruiter

“This project gives a rare glimpse into parts of one of the most historic and mysterious bodies of water on the planet. Additionally, it illuminates the complexities of modern Chinese culture and the evolution of the people’s relationship with the Yangtze River.”

South East Queens Artists Alliance (C)art Festival 2018

Selected by Chris Mitchell, General Counsel

“Public art in Queens — these are a few of my favorite things.”

The 826 New Orleans Youth Publication Center

Selected by Annelise Broussard, Finance Coordinator

“This project was hands down my favorite from 2018. Big Class raised over $22,000 to help bring a publication center to the 826 New Orleans youth writing center. This center gives New Orleans youth the opportunity to write stories, record podcasts, and now, have their work published!”

Another pick from Annelise:

P.S. Poems by Casie Dodd

“This project combined my love for handwritten letters and poetry. The creator, Casie Dodd, wrote commissioned poems for each of her backers. I selected the mini-subscription reward, which consisted of four poems. Prior to sending out the poems, she sent backers prompts to help her create these one-of-a-kind poems. One of my favorite poems and prompts was to describe my favorite food. I had Casie write a poem about my friend’s favorite food, fried chicken; a few weeks later, he received a postcard with a poem about fried chicken — she even drew a chicken tender on it!”

Thunder Road by Jim Cummings

Selected by Elise McCave, Director of Narrative Film

“Jim Cummings launched a Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2017 to turn his hilarious Sundance Film Festival-winning short Thunder Road into a feature. The team went on to win the SXSW Grand Jury prize, screen the film at Cannes, and self-distribute it (and made their money back in a week). I programmed it for the Brooklyn Comedy Film Festival, and now you can watch it on iTunes!”

Saving Brinton by Andrew Sherburne

Selected by Liz Cook Mowe, Director of Documentary Film

Saving Brinton follows Mike Zahs, a determined collector and historian who discovered a rare collection of showreels belonging to William Franklin Brinton, the man who brought moving pictures to rural Iowa. With the century-old films in hand, Zahs began a journey to restore the legacy of America’s greatest barnstorming movieman and save these cinematic treasures from turning to dust. The Kickstarter campaign funded a theatrical release after the film’s successful festival run — and now you can watch it, too.”

Rumble Jar

Selected by Carol Benovic-Bradley, Senior Education Specialist

“Rumble Jar was made by Griz Coat genius and past Kickstarter Creator-in-Residence Hans Reichstetter and his brother, Karl. It’s so easy to use, and now I can make cold brew at home just the way I like it! ‘Rumbling’ the jar is also just plain fun. It makes me feel like a barista/bartender in my own kitchen (only I get to keep the coffee for myself). You can buy it here.”

The Practical Visionary: A William Blake Book and Exhibition

Selected by Gemma Seltzer, UK Arts & Culture Outreach Lead

“A small, beautiful example of the ways poetry helps us see the world more clearly and shows us how rich, strange, and complex life is. I love this collaboration between artist Sophie Herxheimer, poet Chris McCabe, and publisher Hercules Editions, which uses the bright, yearning, creative ideas of William Blake as inspiration. The resulting poetry collages and book are extraordinary, and show language at its most vivid.”

#SuperNachoBowl by Jenn de la Vega

Selected by Oriana Leckert, Journalism Outreach Lead

“I love the combination of creativity, community, and wild foodie culture on display here! Jenn de la Vega is so charismatic and clever, and she comes up with so many delightful projects. Getting 100 people together to make cheesy videos and GIFs of nachos is such a perfect example of that.”

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