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Rants and Raves: Pound Dogs and Gentlemen’s Paintings

Artists Seeking Funding

Above: Dogs waiting to be adopted and a filmmaker waiting for funding of "Pound Dogs."

I wanted to highlight once again some Kickstarter campaigns that reveal the diversity of funding artists are going after.

Kickstarter (launched in 2009) is an online pledge system that allows for funding of creative projects ranging from independent films to music to inventions. Here are a few projects that reflect how artists are using this innovative new funding tool.

First of all let me mention award-winning Nashville animator Mike Salva. San Diego audiences have had a few opportunities to see his work. His animated shorts "Max the Hero" and "Death Row Diet" were both selected as part of the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and this year his "Back to Life" screened at Horrible Imaginings' Valentine's Day Massacre. Now he's looking to raise $2500 on Kickstarter specifically to pay for the sound (voice talent recording, and later mixing and post production) on his upcoming short "Pound Dogs," an animated comedy about two dogs talking about eating cat poo and waiting for adoption at an animal shelter.

I love getting a window into the creative process and here you can see how animator Mike Salva conceived a character and then begins to bring it to life with clay.

Mike Salva

Above: I love getting a window into the creative process and here you can see how animator Mike Salva conceived a character and then begins to bring it to life with clay.

I fell in love with Salva's work when I was serving as a judge on the Comic-Con Independent Film Festival back in 2009. I like his humor and how he experiments with different animation techniques on each of his films. For "Pound Dogs" he is using clay that he rolls out, cuts, and bakes. He says it's the first cartoon he's made "in his kitchen." He has a great video up at Kickstarter showing a little of what goes into the process.

Video

Pound Dogs Kickstarter Video

Above: "Pound Dogs'" Kickstarter Video

"My cartoon characters are digitally drawn on a computer drawing tablet," Salva explained to me, "This time I thought it would be fun to make all the characters out of polymer clay. The clay is pressed with a pasta maker, I cut out the characters, then bake them in the oven at 230 degrees. It can be kind of frustrating. With digital characters, a color change requires a mouse click. With clay, I have to make another car trip to the craft store."

Animator Mike Salva (center) with the talented folks in the recording studio for "Pound Dogs:" Steve Taylor, Samantha Newark, and the "dogs" Ryan Williams and Sean Parrott.

Mike Salva

Above: Animator Mike Salva (center) with the talented folks in the recording studio for "Pound Dogs:" Steve Taylor, Samantha Newark, and the "dogs" Ryan Williams and Sean Parrott.

Salva decided to use Kickstarter after seeing how it helped a fellow artist: "Here in Nashville, Kickstarter campaign recently saved a feature film that is now in post-production, and the director of that film, Steve Taylor, is actually one of the voice performers in the "Pound Dog" cartoon."

One of the fun things about Kickstarter campaigns is to see what incentives are being offered to help back the project. So if you donate to Salva's film you could get a barking dogs ringtone, a DVD of the film, an associate producer credit on the film and a listing on IMDb, a "Max the Hero" fly swatter, or a 15-minute Skype session with "Jem" star Samantha Newark who provides one of the voices for the cartoon. But the best incentive is for $10,000 Salva will tattoo your name somewhere on his torso while you watch. Now that's dedication to your art. I sure hope someone donates at that level.

Rebecca Webb, the ArtPower! Film Curator who's been trying some innoative film programming at UC San Diego, has more traditional incentives such signed posters, t-shirts, photo books, and art prints for her Kickstarter campaign. Webb's project is called "Gentlemen’s Paintings" (after Goya) and she is more than halfway to her goal of $5,846.

Video

Gentlemen's Paintings' Kickstarter Video

Above: "Gentlemen's Paintings'" Kickstarter Video

Webb says her project is "a series of forty color photography portraits of Southern Californian middle-aged women. In this project, I am highly influenced by the 18th century painter, Francisco Goya. He painted a series of portraits of society women called 'Gentlemen’s Paintings,' which serves as the guiding principle for this project. Not only did he paint provocative portraits (presumably for an audience of male patrons), he also painted portraits of aristocratic women in bucolic settings who faithfully embraced their current mores -- at least by their outward appearance. My project is a modern take on Goya’s work, where I depict women who are able to take many more liberties. I use the context of San Diego’s paradisiacal landscapes to further draw a connection to Goya’s work of natural settings as a backdrop and thereby create a juxtaposition to my urban past. 'GP' is about self-concept and expression and is simultaneously a comment on societal and cultural attitudes towards middle-aged 'appropriateness.' Women, in their 40s and 50s, face the complicated transition between youth and old age and many struggle to define their public persona and image. What does it mean to 'age gracefully?'"

Webb decided to use Kickstarter because "it is a very supportive environment for showcasing creative and projects borne out of passion. Since I already have all the materials I need to make my pictures, I need to raise funds for printing and framing, which is cost-prohibitive. In order to excite galleries and museums, I need to make the actual show-worthy 24x30 archival, Fugi-Flex prints ready for exhibition. I have shown my photography work in museums and galleries, but have never had a solo exhibition. This is my life-long dream!"

Filmmaker Kevin Tostado at the KPBS Studios.

Beth Accomando

Above: Filmmaker Kevin Tostado at the KPBS Studios.

Kevin Tostado is working on his own dream project, the documentary "Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story." His film is finished but his work is not done. The film is currently playing at the UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center, but Tostado is trying to raise just over $20,000 to help finance the national distribution of his film.

There are 26 days to go on the "Pound Dogs" campaign; 9 days left in the "Gentlemen's Paintings" campaign; and 3 days left on the "Under the Boardwalk" campaign. Check these campaigns or search the site and IndieGoGo to see the wide array of projects out there that you can become a part of and maybe help make a dream come true.

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