Finding Funding for Letterpress projects


I’m currently in the midst of a huge undertaking for my MFA thesis -a fine press book written, designed, illustrated, printed, and bound by me. What I want to know is, how have other, more mature presses found funding for their work?

I currently have a kickstarter, a blog, a twitter, a facebook page, a Behance page, and a discussion on Linked in. Being in the digital age this is all I can think of. I’ve been looking for and applying to any grant I can find, but I’m curious about how others make this happen for their projects.

To get an idea of the project I’m working on:

The only way I can think of to fund it:

Any advice is appreciated!

My goodness, I’m sorry for all the people that seem so utterly offended by my question! Yes I work, yes I have a job, and no I’m not begging for money, I’m offering incentives for pledges. I am however 23, and only in my third year of printing. I’m a grad student about to graduate and so my funds go almost directly into paying for school, I had very little financial aid. I spent a year as unpaid apprentice to make this dream a reality, so any savings went to living during that time.

I don’t plan to fund all my future life through kickstarter… I simply don’t have the initial money to do this massive undertaking, over 100 page book - with photopolymer plates is very costly. It’s my thesis and it’s important to me. I’ve been selling broadsides, trying to sell work in galleries, and doing any extra client work I can. I just wanted some friendly advice on how people go themselves started with big projects.

Wow, I’m a little hurt by how off put many of you were. I’m not a mature press, I’m just a student trying to make this project so one day I can own my own press.

image: brainsmall.jpg


Log in to reply   23 replies so far

An established press would typically issue a prospectus to their mailing list and offer a pre-purchase price.

Daniel Morris
The Arm Letterpress
Brooklyn, NY

Perhaps you should fund it yourself instead of asking for OPM …OTHER.PEOPLE’S MONEY or maybe ask your mom and dad I’m sure they like you more than people that don’t even know you.
Look at this post: and this one:

Tonight I tuned in to the Briar Press website, (the Letterpress Community). I was surprised to see this:
“I currently have a kickstarter, a blog, a twitter, a facebook page, a Behance page, and a discussion on Linked in.”
.Kickstarter? .Blog? .Twitter?? .Facebook? .Behance? .Linkedin?
Am I in the right place?
Being as what the author referred to a mature press, and also a mature person I feel that I’m qualified to express my opinions on his topic of grants, mainly answer his question of how we made it happen.
We made this happen (in my case) by saving our paper route earnings and investing them in a 3x5 Kelsey outfit, a press, stick, some type, a case or two, ink, etc. Then after a time we reinvested some of our earnings and the sale of our 3x5 into an 8x12 C&P. Our goal was achieved in this way as in those days grants were unheard of. This method, process, means or whatever you might want to call it in those days and now is commonly referred to as “WORK.” This was not any secret plan for success as everyone knew it back then, and most practiced it; those that didn’t are probably still waiting for grants.
The time, effort and energy one might put into Kickstarter, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Behance, Linkedin, might better pay off put into, yup, here’s that word again “WORK”
Goodnight all!!

Please forgive me as in the previous post I referred to “his” topic. To be correct in all respects this should read “his/her” or “their.” Can’t blame this on anything but my proofreading. Sorry.

Thank you Stan…

I’ve always wanted a Ludlow and an Elrod…
Maybe I’ll get me one of those Kickstarter things going, and all of you can buy them for me.
I’ll even call it a “museum”, if you like.


Finding a press, moving it, restoring it, &
assembling the peripheral tools & equipment
is largely a pain in the ass
unless you enjoy those steps.

If you aim to produce a book on creativity
while the content is still relevant and fresh
then you may want to take a more expedient route.

Find a local collective printing studio.
A membership will buy you access
to the equipment you need.
In a collegial atmosphere other members
can be a big help with FAQ’s
and getting past problems.

There’s another considerable advantage to this strategy
—after the book has been printed and bound
you won’t be stuck with a press
to sell, store, or move.

If you were in Kansas City I’d recommend the
Kansas City Center for the Ink & Paper Arts
but other regions have such facilities.

Membership is a good way
to support these community assets
while at the same time giving yourself
an opportunity to be self-reliant.
This is only one creative alternative
to asking for a hand-out.
There are likely several others.

I wonder if anyone has ever posted
a Kickstarter pitch
for printing an Emerson?

Best of luck.

Kansas City

When did everyone on Brairpress turn in to a jerk?
This person is simply asking for advice from a community connected to their project.
They don’t need insults tossed around without any advice to back it up.
“Ask mom and dad, I am sure they like you better than people that don’t even know you.” ?!
Other people’s money? Yes, that’s what we are all asking for, it is called running a business. You make something, and people give you their money.
Slamming someone for trying to do something in a different way that you did it, doesn’t make their way wrong, it makes you a jerk.

Don’t listen to the haters, PantheraPress. Make it happen.
Best of luck

Good grief!
Rapid skimming always gets me into trouble.
I completely misunderstood
the nature of Danielle’s request.
She already prints and has a press.
All the finger-wagging links & advice
are neither relevant nor gracious.
The Kickstarter option is tailor made
for what Danielle is aiming to do.
Moreover, she offers some value
in return for the investment.

Blue skies & tail winds, Panthera Press.


Panthera Press,

I wish you well in all of your printing and educational endeavors.
I simply have a personal opinion concerning the premise of the Kickstarter phenomenon. I am entitled to that.
Perhaps I should have kept it to myself, or only offered words of encouragement, which I now do, in that, I hope that you can find a way to make it all happen.
Please do not view my comment, sarcastic as it was, as some kind of a “wet blanket” on your project.
Do whatever you have to do that is legal, and ethical, to get the money you need.
I am just older and have worked most of my life, and not in graphic arts, or education…
Printing is a long time hobby that has been financed by another occupation, and the whole Kickstart thing just sounds alien from my perspective, and is something that I would not choose to do personally.
I will not resort to name-calling towards OTHERS here, but do not regret voicing an opinion.
I’m entitled to that.

Best in all,


@Daniel Morris,

Do you mean a prospectus that includes the possibility to buy stock?

I had thought about pre-selling a certain type of work as a way to get funding for certain things.

Is that more or less what you mean?

Wether you are studying printing, filmmaking, photography or music etc. Funding your final year project can be expensive. I left my final year of my BA in Photography owing £6k to the bank which is relatively little these days.

The current trend is to ‘crowd fund’ projects using a platform like kickstarter and social media tools to spread the word and sell the idea. I must admit it feels a bit like begging on the Internet to me and I have chosen to fund my projects first and sell them afterwards, so far successfully, but it is always a gamble.

My first publication cost £11k to print and my second cost £14k to print, both went into profit thankfully. My recent 40 min documentary film took me three months to make and is now selling well through the online distribution platform Distrify.

I am now often asked to speak about alternative ways of funding and distributing creative content in the digital age.

My point is that it can be done but there is no single route to achieving it, I fear Kickstarters novelty has warn thin and most people struggle to get their projects funded their.
You need an established following/community before you initiate a request for support.

The Briarpress community, lovely as they are, is probably not the most forward looking group of people to address this question to. Come here to tap their long experience and hard earned wisdom and you will receive all the help they can offer.

Love your illustrations, good luck with getting your project funded.


Prefaced with the fact that we are NOT mature…

Were you thinking of using Kickstarter for financing future individual projects or just this thesis? I don’t think I’ve seen continuous/repeated fundraising on there too often, it seems like it is more attractive for just starting the actual business. However, I could see it being used as a *tool* to handle pre-ordering…different levels of giving could get numbered or autographed or inscribed copies to increase value, or perhaps offered at a level slightly below retail. So the reward would be the goal rather than a product of the goal (or some byproduct or unrelated knickknack). I’d be surprised if Kickstarter would be sustainable to use for individual book projects if the reward isn’t the end product—maybe for a first project, like a thesis, but I don’t think donors will keep showing up again and again if they aren’t getting something more than what most Kickstarter projects are giving out.

The other Internet resources you list will be useful in advertising your product for sale or pre-ordering, but can be really hard to leverage as direct funding.

We personally prefer to fund projects ourselves through the money brought in with contracted work. If you are set on producing books only then you should find writers and publishers that you could print for…then it falls to them to come up with the funding and you earn a guaranteed amount. This obviously distracts from your own projects, but diversity is only going to help you be sustainable. If you are inundated with working for other people and don’t have time for yourself, you don’t have to accept the work, you may even benefit from being unavailable if people feel your services are in such great demand.

If you aren’t in a position to guarantee production and are taking pre-orders, your customers are going to become less and less willing to participate if they have to wait with their money on the table and possibly have it come back if there isn’t enough interest and the project goes belly up—not good for business. People like confidence and surety (especially with money), so if you initiate a project and take orders, see it through—which means it is best to have the money to pay for it yourself upfront, I wouldn’t *count* on Kickstarter.

I apologize for the knee-jerk-reaction.

Please forgive me :)

Hello Panthera Press,

I, too, am a hobby printer whose work is funded by other income sources, so my personal experience is not relevant to your situation.

My son, however, is a film student at a design school and faces considerable expenses associated with his projects. His school alerts prospective students, at the outset, to expect costs beyond tuition, and even provides an estimate of these costs for each discipline. Since these costs are part and parcel of the entire education package, I would think that you could cover them with a student loan. If the book is successful, you can use your sales revenue to pay back the loan.

Good luck with the Kickstarter project, however. I think your premiums are generous and that your friends and relatives should be happy to contribute. For other Briar Press members who scoff at programs like Kickstarter, keep in mind that for centuries creative types lived off of “other people’s money”; the “other people” were known as patrons. I see Kickstarter as a way for all of us to be a patron in some small way.


Received this message from ‘Girl with a Kluge’ today, I am totally mystified as to what I may have said to upset her. If there was something offensive in my post above, please enlighten me.

You don’t live in America….home of the free and the brave…. kiss my @ss
you freaking JERK

Nturpin: People who own Kluges aren’t notoriously stable. Mine has had a destabilizing influence on my life. Actually, my whole shop has done that, but the Kluge most of all.

are you sure it’s from here, maybe she offended someone else who wants to stir.

america sucks btw ;-)

Well it came through the Briarpress message system which says it’s from her. I don’t think the system would let anyone else create an account with the same name as an existing account.

Well then, I’ll shut up.

Weird that within 1 day apart there are 2 threads with people asking for funding.

When I did my MFA final thesis, I never considered seeking funding other than through the financial aid I applied for. Maybe I would have tried Kickstarter or maybe not. I guess I feel like paying for my final work (in my case, a gallery filled with large scale photo installations) was my financial responsibility as part of my degree. It is something I planned for when completing my degree and I don’t think I would have done if I didn’t think I could afford to do it.

I do like Kickstarter in that those who donate do get something in return and it isn’t just a handout. So perhaps that will work for you but I think it is really a matter of financial planning, talking to the financial aid department at your school and looking into loans. For the majority of us, grad school = debt. Good luck with your project.

One of the most famous of printers Johann Gutenburg borrowed money for his projects. In fact the only way we really know about him is thru the court records of the day from a law suit. He went broke or was suied several times by his financiers.

Good luck on the project. I think there is some good advice here. You could also try to work with an insitution that can allow you the access to the equipment you need.

All of these amazingly rude comments on here is why I don’t visit this site very often anymore. In response to natron: there has always been jerks on Briar Press.