Mapping a Memorable Man

Pittsburgh, PA by Jennifer Carland

I just funded my first Kickstarter campaign.

What is Kickstarter you ask? It’s an online source of funding for (mostly) creative projects that might never get made otherwise. The way it works (ideally) is that lots of people give small amounts of money to invest in a project, for example, the filming of a movie, or the recording of an album, or the exhibition of artworks. Because it’s difficult to find a few backers willing to fund a large proportion of a project, and perhaps even more difficult to find backers who will resist the temptation to influence the creative process, many of these projects might not get made without Kickstarter. The idea is to provide autonomy to the artist, while allowing many people to share in the satisfaction of putting something creative into the world, and if the project doesn’t reach the funding goal, no money is taken at all, from anyone. That’s important: Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.

The campaign I funded is called Mapping A Memorable Man by Jennifer Carland. The Memorable Man of the title is Jenn’s brother, Justin, who died unexpectedly in a motorcycle accident in April 2012. The project will create map-based artwork of specific cities that were important in Justin’s life, and exhibit the 20-40 artworks together, near Justin’s hometown.

Jenn has chosen to channel her grief over Justin’s death into creating artwork about his “incredible fun-loving” life. Why maps? In Jenn’s words:

My idea is that if I create abstracted maps…of the locations where my brother spent his life, it will tell his story in a unique way…people have a strong identity with a particular location and have an emotional and/or psychological connection to a particular place- somewhere where they currently live, where they grew up, where they went on vacation, or another memorable location.

Jenn and Justin Carland

On the Kickstarter campaign site, Jenn provides a list of cities she’d like to map through this project, places where Justin played hockey, worked, met friends and so on. While these cities are personal to Justin and to Jenn, many of them hold strong memories for me too. Jenn says:

The cool thing about this is that these cities not only hold [Justin’s] stories, but many more memories and stories for lots of other people.  I would love to have the opportunity to make prints for people, who may or may not have known Justin, but want to have a print of a city that has meaning to them. This way I can keep Justin’s memories alive…but at the same time, bookmark memories for other people.

Even though I never met Justin, I also feel connected to New Bedford, Niagara Falls, and San Francisco, to name just a few locations on Jenn’s list. My memories, of course, aren’t Justin’s memories, but discovering this interpersonal connection makes me feel a little richer. Doesn’t that at least partly explain Facebook?

I like Kickstarter because, to quote Jenn again, it shows “the impact one person has on the world”. This means Justin, it means each individual backer, it means the artist behind each project.

Another nice thing about Kickstarter is that you can be a part of the action for as low as $1.00, and each level of this campaign comes with rewards. You can receive PDFs, prints of artwork, personal thank-yous, and more; it’s worth checking out.

Remember, the project has to be backed 100% in order for Jenn to receive any funds for art supplies, exhibition of the original works, shipping of artwork, etc.

Check out Mapping A Memorable Man, support the arts, memorialize a great person, make a connection, and possibly obtain your own unique piece of artwork.

Good luck to Jennifer Carland and Mapping a Memorable Man!

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