Kickstarter for textile-inspired prints

Three rectangular prints depicting (from left to right) stylized knit stitches, a section of twill weave cloth, and a sheep. The images are surrounded by balls of yarn.
I offered this trio of handprinted linocut block prints to Kickstarter backers.

In the first couple months of 2020, I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to start my printmaking business. The project was titled Make 100: Textile-Inspired Linocut Prints, and I committed to creating 100 limited-edition block prints. I launched on January 28, 2020 and the 30-day funding period wrapped up on February 27. I shipped all prints at the start of May.

In August, I opened up my online shop for selling prints. The Kickstarter gave me the necessary funds and the confidence boost to put everything together.

2 hands positioned on top of a grey piece of linoleum. The right hand holds a yellow carving tool and is removing material from the surface of the linoleum.
2 hands positioned above a grey carved linoleum block. The right hand holds a brayer covered in black ink, and is rolling that ink onto the surface of the block.
My printmaking process involves carving a relief pattern into a linoleum block (left), then using a brayer to apply ink to the surface of the block (right). Afterwards I place a piece of paper on the inked block and use a hand-held baren to apply pressure and transfer ink from the block to the paper. These images are stills taken from process videos I included on the Kickstarter campaign page).

This post is all about my motivation for and experiences while running the Kickstarter, as well as some of the logistical lessons I learned along the way. If you’re looking for more detailed information about how I make my prints, have a look at my Instagram account or read through my other printmaking projects.

Raising money with Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a platform for crowd-sourced fundraising that’s been around since 2009. Kickstarter campaigns come with the understanding that you’re investing in a new creative project rather than purchasing a product that’s been polished and perfected.


Fundraising through Kickstarter let me break the creation of my business down into manageable chunks of work. It allowed me to focus on artistic creation and fulfillment while delaying the complicated topics of shop websites, marketing, inventory management, and business licenses.

My goal for raising funds was to cover initial business expenses and pay for art materials that I could use for experimentation and learning. In particular, I wanted to:

And, if I’m being honest, there was an additional motivating factor: in the years since I first learned about Kickstarter (over 10 years ago!), I’ve harbored a secret wish to someday launch a project on the platform. I’ve been inspired by the huge range of creative projects that get their start through Kickstarter and wanted to be a part of it all.

Funding summary

I set my initial funding goal at $400: I calculated this as the absolute minimum I needed to fund basic printmaking experiments and purchase small quantities of shipping supplies. I was nervous about how many backers I could attract, and figured that setting the goal low and having to fulfill orders on a tight budget was better than setting the goal too high and not reaching it.

Kickstarter urges all creators to advertise their projects within their own networks rather than relying solely on organic views from the Kickstarter website to fund the project. I found that 60% of my backers were either personal acquaintances, friends of friends, or Instagram followers; 40% were strangers who found my project through Kickstarter.

My Kickstarter campaign had 42 backers and raised a total of $1,823. After subtracting fees ($91.15 in Kickstarter fees; $62.83 in payment processing fees), the campaign paid out $1669.02.

Project updates

After launching the project, I published a couple of updates on the Kickstarter platform to let my backers know how things were doing. I used these updates to document my progress in finding good printmaking paper, experiments with printing techniques for getting a good impression, and decisions regarding safely shipping prints.



To create the campaign’s sample prints, I used Blick’s water-based printmaking inks, which are beginner-friendly and cheap. But I knew that I would need better inks to print the final editions. Blick’s water-based inks start drying quickly after being exposed to the air; although this is desirable for making a small number of prints that need to be handled immediately, the fast-drying ink becomes a problem when printing larger editions. I planned to create three editions of 30 to 35 prints, and each edition would take many hours to print.

To make it possible to print these larger editions, I turned to oil-based inks, which dry more slowly. I quickly settled on Cranfield Colours Caligo Safe-Wash Relief Inks: these inks are richly pigmented and slow-drying. Best of all, clean up can be done with soap and water rather than noxious chemicals (as is common with traditional oil-based inks).


I ordered a large number of different printmaking papers from Talas, a Boston-based bookbinding supply company with a large selection of competitively priced fine art papers. My first order contained 11 different types of paper and 10 paper sample books.

I experimented with many of the papers to see what kinds of results I could get with my printing process (and adjusted my technique as I learned new tricks). I tried different amounts of ink on the block, different print barrens, and using both dry and wet paper (and once I determined that damp paper produced the best impressions, I had to figure out how to get wet paper to dry flat). From these experiments, I decided on the final project papers: I placed a second paper order to complete the three print editions.

a pile of paper sample books from Talas, spread out on a tabletop
I used this pile of paper sample books from Talas to learn about brands, weights, and colors before picking the final papers.

Packing supplies

I needed to find a way to pack the prints so they’d make it safely through the mail system, and I wanted my packing materials to be environmentally friendly. I initially considered purchasing compostable plastic sleeves to protect the prints, especially in the case of rain. However, my research revealed that biodegradable plastic only breaks down under commercial composting conditions and that these facilities are not widely available. Additionally, because this plastic looks identical to its non-compostable cousin, it can easily end up in a landfill where it would never decompose.

Instead, I decided to use 100% paper materials: glassine paper sleeves protect the prints from abrasion during transit (and create an acid-free environment for longer term storage), and the sleeve is secured within a sturdy chipboard folder. These materials, combined with a rigid shipping envelope, provide plenty of protection during transit.

Packing materials laid out across a table. On the left is an open chipboard folder, on top of which is placed a tri-fold sheet of semi-transparent glassine paper folded around a sheep print. To the right is a closed chipboard folder fastened with a glassine belly band.
Each print is enclosed in a glassine paper sleeve within a sturdy chipboard folder.

For the Kickstarter, I purchased bulk shipping materials from a big well-known shipping supplier. Knowing what I now know though, I would have instead purchased my materials from EcoEnclose. EcoEnclose puts a huge emphasis on creating environmentally-friendly shipping materials made from 100% recycled post consumer waste. The company’s prices are also quite competitive. Since the Kickstarter, I’ve become a regular customer of EcoEnclose and highly recommend them.

Shipping charges

In addition to the amounts that backers pledged in order to receive a physical print, I also charged backers the cost of shipping. This allowed me to set different rates for domestic and international backers to reflect the different shipping costs – I charged $3 to domestic backers and $10 to international backers.

I arrived at these numbers after researching different shipping methods: out of USPS, FedEx, and UPS, I found that USPS First Class Package (domestic) and USPS First Class Package International offered the best prices for my package size. Although I charged domestic backers the actual cost to ship, I deliberately undercharged international backers. I decided that I’d rather lose a little money on shipping but gain a pledge, rather than scaring off a potential international backer with higher-than-expected shipping costs.

I purchased USPS shipping labels through Pirate Ship, a website that offers competitive rates and has a nice interface for purchasing bulk shipping and for tracking shipments. I’ve continued to use this software to purchase shipping for everything I sell through my shop.

In total, the pledged amounts included $125 in shipping charges; I spent $132.75 to mail out all backer rewards.

Summary by numbers

  Backer counts
35 domestic backers
2 international backers
6 selected no reward
−1 dropped after the campaign ended
42 total backers
  Pledge amounts
$1823.00 amount pledged by the 42 final backers
−$91.15 Kickstarter fees (5% of funds raised)
−$62.83 payment processing fees (3% + $0.20 per pledge)
$1669.02 total funds paid out

Kickstarter conclusion

A rectangular print depicting a geometric diagonal twill pattern. The print is on brown paper and is float framed above a white mat within a black metal frame.
A black and white geometric design, depicting stylized knit stitches in a wood-block style. 'Knit Study No. 1' is written in pencil at the bottom of the image.
A black and white sheep looks left. The sheep is depicted within a black border, and the image is printed on white rectangular paper.
From left to right: "Twill Weave" in a float frame, a closeup of "Knit Study No. 1", and "Scottish Blackface Sheep". These are final images of the three print editions I created for the Kickstarter campaign.

I mailed out the finished prints in May 2020. Several happy recipients reached out to me to share their thoughts and photos:

We just opened it and we absolutely LOVE the prints!!! Lauren - they are just gorgeous!!! So perfect and so elegantly presented! And the prints are like museum quality! We can’t wait to frame them and have them up on a wall where they belong. They are really something special. We both love them!


I’m super excited to get it framed and hang it up! The packaging was great, I loved the experience of opening it up, it felt like a very nice present.

A sheep print within a black frame, hanging on a yellow wall next to two other pieces of artwork.
A print of knit stitch texture is sandwiched between two pieces of clear glass within a black frame. The frame sits on a brick fireplace.
Two framed prints (the left of knit stitches, the right of twill weave structure) sit on top of an upright piano. Piano sheet music is visible at the bottom of the image.
A sheep print displayed in a shiny metal frame. The frame is propped up on a wooden desk with a white wall in the background.
Framed prints from happy backers.

After the Kickstarter concluded, I spent a couple of months putting together an online shop for selling prints, which I launched in August 2020. A handful of limited edition prints left over from the Kickstarter print runs are still available for purchase: