With crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter gaining more traction in Canada, Calgary students are finding new ways to achieve their dreams.
It was a late February night and Lynsday Wasko lied nervously on her bed, clutching her iPad between her hands.
“It was really stressful up to that point.” Wasko says. “I knew there would be stress, but just didn’t know how stressful it would be. I couldn’t focus on anything else.”
Wasko, a fourth-year graphic design student at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), used her unique set of talents to design and illustrate her very own children’s book. The book, titled Down in the Jungle, wasn’t funded in a conventional manner, as Wasko decided to take to the internet to make her dream become a reality.
Wasko, along with her good friend and author of the book Maxine Spence, used Kickstarter, the internet’s most popular method of crowd funding, to raise over $10,000 to print a sufficient amount of copies to sell. While it may sound easy in theory, Wasko tells us it was everything but.
“We hit our goal four days before the deadline,” Wasko says. “I had set up my iPad so it would ding every time I got an email from Kickstarter.”
With just over five months to complete the Kickstarter process, Wasko says that there was no time to spare between then and her deadline.
“In November, we told ourselves that we wanted to print it for the springtime. It’s about $10,000 to publish a book and print enough copies. We thought about taking a loan out, but it didn’t seem to be a good idea. I brought up the idea of Kickstarter and looked at some other book projects that were successful. It was a bit of a gamble, but we realized that if we did fail, we weren’t losing anything other than time or energy.”
Wasko goes on to say that her background in a variety of subjects, as well as her own personal life, led to the success of her book.
“I grew up on Vancouver Island and drew animals all the time. I moved to Calgary at the beginning of high school and went to art school with the intention of making comic books, but I fell in love with graphic design. Marketing is also a part of my degree, so I pulled out all the stops to make it work.
Despite all of her preparation and hard work, Wasko says that there was always a slight hint of doubt in her mind if whether or not her project would be successful.
“When you look at the concept of a children’s book. it’s not really something that would normally be successful on Kickstarter because the target audience isn’t familiar with the website. I was almost in shell shock when we actually made it because I was preparing myself to fail.”
With the financial aspect and printing taken care of, Wasko can now solely focus on distribution of the book. While you won’t see the book at your local Chapters or Indigo, Wasko told us that the book will be available in smaller book stores.
“Sometimes, local book stores will feature homegrown talent and showcase the work of authors like myself, so that’s what I’m aiming for.”
As far as her future goes, Wasko said that she hopes to use this as a stepping stone forward while still doing what she loves now that she has the experience of illustration and marketing on a large scale.
“I’d love to work for a marketing or advertising firm, but illustration is still a passion for me that I could do on a freelance basis. I could show this book as a part of my resumè and say that I was able to get a Kickstarter campaign to work.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone in a situation similar to hers, Wasko said that persistence (and even a little annoying) is key.
“I was constantly checking my email, sharing the campaign on Facebook, and tweeting certain people. I was obnoxious to everyone I knew. I had to take everyone I knew and annoy the hell out of them.”