Review: Crowdfunding for Designers

Crowdfunding for Designers
Infozine, Craighton Berman, 28 pgs,, $10

Is entrepreneurship antithetical to the DIY ethos? Not for Chicago-based designer Craighton Berman. In Crowdfunding for Designers, Berman outlines an inspiring — and, quite frankly, increasingly necessary — approach to creativity that questions whether the labour of design must always be in service to others. At the same time, like Ayun Halliday and fellow Chicagoan Marc Fischer, Berman is a realist, jettisoning the all-or-nothing purist rhetorics of DIY to develop a theory of “creative entrepreneurship.”

Such an approach leverages storytelling (rather than “marketing”) to communicate a passionate, authentic idea that serves as a point of connection among folx in a community, not unlike zines do. The only difference is that the point of connection comes with an ask. And if you want to see your most original, unbridled ideas materialize, you’re going to have to accept that money is a genuine constraint. Or maybe in the context of crowdfunding, it’s an affordance — a legitimate excuse to promote your projects to friends and strangers, to ask them to believe in you.

The attraction to crowdfunding as a self-publisher, it seems to me, is that it refuses to equate capital with profit or competition. Instead, it reframes it as a necessary component that can turn abstract ideas to actual objects. And Berman certainly has the chops, having run 15 Kickstarter campaigns that have netted more than $350k, connecting him with thousands of supporters.

This zine, printed via a vibrant three colour riso, is a condensed version of lessons prepared for college seniors in Berman’s Entrepreneurial Design course at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This experience allows Berman to conceptualize several clear and succinct frameworks on everything from goals to rewards to fulfilment. I’d be surprised if you could find a better guide on crowdfunding for zinesters anywhere.


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