EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Times being what they are, a lot of artists are filling their financial cups a drop at a time. Ken Carpenter hopes he can turn one of those drops into a bit of a flow.
Carpenter, a longtime local resident, has over the years made financial ends meet as a musician, artist and bus driver. These days, Carpenter has launched a funding project on the Kickstarter website to, well, kick-start a greeting-card company called the (Slightly) Imperfekt Card Company, or SIC. Yes, it's from Latin, and is the commonly used word for "this person sent us a note containing a mistake, and we're not going to correct it."
Carpenter works in simple, but not simplistic, black-and-white line drawings, the kind of art you'll often find in the "New Yorker" magazine. And he's grateful for any comparisons to the cartoons found there.
Of course, lots of artists want to see their work in the "New Yorker" - Carpenter said the magazine receives between 1,000 and 3,000 submissions every week.
With a steady gig at the magazine unlikely, Carpenter last year turned out a few hundred greeting cards and sold them to small gift shops around the state. His Kickstarter campaign is an extension of that effort.
The campaign, which is trying to raise $5,000 from small investors, is near its end, and only about halfway to the $5,000 goal. If the goal is met, Carpenter plans to invest in printing, card racks and marketing to perhaps three dozen stores. Printing will be done on recycled paper, and envelopes will be made from recycled brown-paper grocery bags. It's sustainable, but classy.
That's a fairly modest goal for a first round of funding, but Carpenter can see a day when his cards become more popular. There could be market-specific cards for various shops, along with the more general-topic cards.
If he's successful, Carpenter sees SIC becoming a way to cover a few months of income, something those of us with seasonal jobs are always looking for.
"And it could be a way to fulfill a goal of having an out-of-valley income source," he said.
While Carpenter's goals are modest, both personally and on Kickstarter, he will at times indulge in a quick flight of fancy, imagining the day his well-drawn, intelligent cards might be picked up by, say, Barnes and Noble.
Whether or not the Kickstarter campaign works, Carpenter said he's grateful for the support he's seen so far. Many of his online backers are people Carpenter knows, and he knows people are investing what they can in his idea.
That's why he's coined a new term for what Kickstarter does.
"I know they call it 'crowd-funding,'" he said. "I think it's more like community-funding."