I want to raise funds for a move and be good to those who help me.
April 25, 2010 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Illustrator trying to relocate from Phoenix to Portland, having yet another hare-brained idea of how to raise funds for such a venture. Lots inside. Help!

I'm an illustrator living in the Phoenix metro area for the past four plus years; I've posted before about not being happy here, and have been constantly on the lookout for a way out. Last year I discovered Portland and fell in love with it-- seasons! Trees! Nice people! No 110+ degree summers!-- and coupled with the fact that I know a ton of people there, I've been wanting to move up there mighty bad.

The situation: my good friends are losing one of their roommates, and have a really nice space (with attic studio) that I could move into. The awesome: ~$500 a month including utilities. I have about $200 currently in phone and student loans to pay monthly, so plus cost of food, it's really not bad financially given that it's right near the Pearl. But I know the job market's rough, and with being a freelancer and owing quarterly taxes and the shakiness of the market, well, it's got me a little nervous. On the other hand, I've spent a lot of my life guided by fear due to not having the money to go to college, grad school, etc. I'm kind of tired of shutting those doors and wanting to take a risk. I currently have a part time job in a little grocery store, but picking up more hours isn't doable right now and there aren't many jobs near me (and unfortunately I don't drive). I'm nervous that I can't raise the money on my own in the next five months, though I'm starting to look into selling some of what I own and perhaps doing odd jobs like dog-walking. (any other tips of things to do to raise funds, I'm game to hear, but I have read through the Ask MeFi archives a bunch so I suspect it may be a retread.)

Anyway long story short I was thinking about developing a little subpage of my website that would be devoted to helping raise awareness and money for me to get out there and survive. I'm really inspired by Kickstarter, but I know there's probably very little of a chance that moving me just so I can be happy and around creative friends and grow myself as a creative fits within their scope. But I like the incentive idea, and I can produce things-- that's never a problem really. So I was thinking perhaps there could be a two or three-fold plan- 1), if you have money (multi-tiered, no need for huge donations), you could pledge me and I could then send incentives (screenprints, notebooks, original art, etc-- look Ma, I'm PBS!) that would be special, limited edition things. 2) If you know someone in Portland who could use me for work, whether freelance or full job, you could tell them about me. Others could spread the word, RT, whatever. Social media ensues, and you get the benefit of helping a very self-motivated person not fall on her face when making a big leap.

I don't know if this is weird, or kosher-- I just had the idea this afternoon, and I'm wondering how feasible it is. I don't want to just make something like a tip jar, because I feel like it's something that I will be ridiculously grateful for, and I want to make it up to the people that help me. I'm not looking to get rich, but I just want a cushion to help me feel like if I move there I'm not going to be losing my kneecaps to the IRS come next April.

So in short:
Is this a dumb idea? Do you think people would be willing to help me, even if it's just a buck but you get something from me? Or they can help me find freelance work, or even better, a job interview in Portland? I have a good following online, people definitely really enjoy my illustrations, so I'm hopeful that people will know that helping me will make me a happier and more prolific illustrator and grow my work over the next decade and beyond.

And logistics-wise, how do I do something like that? PayPal? How would the money be counted for tax-purposes? Do I have to register myself as something to be legitimate? It's not a charity obviously. But if I do something like this I want it to be on the up and up, and not get in trouble. Or is there something I don't know about that would be useful for my purposes?

If you've read through all this, I'm really appreciative and would love to hear your thoughts. If you need me to elaborate further or answer specific questions, I'll be happy to. Your help is so awesome. Thanks hivemind!
posted by actionpact to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Why not develop multiple streams of income to get you to your goal? I think once you get there, any part time job will give you the $1000 you need to cover your basic expenses (and since you don't drive, Portland has an awesome public transportation system...). So, to raise, say $5000 to get you launched on your goal, why don't you:
--add a donation link to your website and keep people updated withh progress towards your goal
--give blood!
--sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist
--have a garage sale if you have enough stuff to sell
--challenge yourself to get a new freelance gig in Phoenix ASAP; a one time thing that will earn you some cash is what I have in mind
--check out gigs on Craiglist (take cash producing jobs, not the "you provide me free work and you may get paid in the future" stuff)
--Mow the neighbors lawn (do they have lawn in Phoeniz?)

The bottom line is to make as much cash as you can as quickly as possible then just move. You seem to be surviving minimally (ie: no kids/mortgage/spouse/high income job which would tie you down to Phoenix) and you can really do this anywhere. Just do it!
posted by MsKim at 8:11 PM on April 25, 2010

Personally I think it is poor manners to ask for money to fund a non-emergency lifestyle choice.

One thing I have learned over years of *gah! gorgeous town! must.move.there.now!!* behaviour is that owning stuff costs money when one is thinking about moving. So to add more dollars to your savings and cut down your moving costs at the same time by selling all the stuff you can bear (bare?) to part with, down to the simplest essentials. Do it now, not in the last two weeks. Added bonus: Selling stuff to make the move is a commitment to yourself and everything you sell will honour that commitment and give you courage.
posted by doost at 9:32 PM on April 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think you can do this. You've got a few thousand Twitter followers, and seem pretty well plugged-in to the illustration community (or a sub-set of it). There are lots of people out there who are interested in what you have to say, like what you do, and who would (presumably) prefer that you succeed. Your challenge is clearly communicating your needs to them.

• How much money do you need in order to make this move? Kickstarter works, in part, because people believe that when $____.00 is raised, the thing they are supporting will happen. That's different from a tip jar, which is conceivably beer money. You might look at SmartyPig ... I have no experience with them, but on a cursory glance it seems designed for this sort of thing.

• If you can't be a Kickstarter project, at least emulate their formula as best as possible: set a goal, track your progress toward it, reward contributors both with thank-you gifts and by putting something awesome and new into the world. Could you commit to illustrating a mini zine about your move to Portland, to be sent to your donors after you're all set-up and rocking stumptown?

• Other than freelance illustration, what kind of work would you like people to find for you? Full-time jobs? If so, doing what? Part-time non-design gigs to shore up your freelance income? If so, what do you like/have experience in? And when do you expect to be in Portland, so that these referrals can be meaningful?

I don't quite understand your concern about the logistics of donations. You already sell via etsy and big cartel ... why not use them, with marked-up prices, so that if I "donate" $50 via etsy, I receive what's usually, say, a $15 item? Or do they take too much of a cut?
posted by mumkin at 12:33 AM on April 26, 2010

Just to be a devil's advocate here and as a Portlander, I can tell you that Portland is really rough right now, especially for the creative classes.

Fact: the overall unemployment rate for Portland is 10.8%. Anecdote: My roommate is an illustrator who is not finding a whole lot of freelance work right now and she has both the B.A. and post bach. art degree to back it up and is by my (granted unsophisticated) view, pretty talented at what she does. She's had to diversify to find any work at all.

I would suggest trying it out first and getting a feel for the demand and how you would fit into the illustration scene. (I assume there's a 'scene'?) Is there any way you live in Portland for a few months and use the money you earn from selling stuff, or whatever to subsist and see how much work you pick up? I've heard of way too many people who move here without solid plans, lose everything and are forced to move back.

Don't get me wrong- I think Portland's the bees knees and your idea might work out for the short term, but there's people here with masters degrees working as baristas; you are up against the thousands of talented creative people who moved here for similar reasons competing with each other in a smaller urban economy. Honestly I would test the waters before you take the plunge.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.
posted by goodnight moon at 1:20 AM on April 26, 2010

since you're an illustrator (and have lovely stuff) maybe it's worth to try and open an avenue of income by adding your designs to products on threadless and zazzle. good luck!
posted by mirileh at 6:02 AM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your insightful thoughts-- I'm still on the fence about the whole thing so for now I'll let the idea sit on the back-burner. I definitely don't want to be rude or seem ungrateful, in fact I want to show quite the opposite! But you guys gave me a lot to think about, and it's super-helpful!

In the meantime, I decided to put together a commission project which I'm calling the Rose City Bestiary to help raise funds. We'll see how it goes, fingers crossed!
posted by actionpact at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2010

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