In June of 2015 A Feminist Deck, art cards with pictures of popular feminists on them, was funded for just over $31K. The project was the idea of artist Kiva Smith-Pearson, and promised several stretch goals to backers as the Kickstarter surpassed the goal of $22,500. In January of 2016 the updates went private citing harassment, but after that announcement there was only one update between then and June 6th. Several comments from backers showed concern that there was no update on the project for three months while the artist maintained her art Patreon and was active on Twitter and other social media. On July 6th the creator sent out an email and updated the KS page for backers only, with the following statement that I received from a backer who wishes to remain anonymous. Comments on the page so far indicate a few users do not want refunds, but it's a very small sample of the total backers.
First of all, I am sorry for the long silence. I have been struggling with things I did not realize about the size of and demands of making a bunch of cards, a comic, and this many pieces of art of this complexity. I was and am ashamed of my inability to figure out how to complete the project and for that I apologize.
Everyone has been paid. Lots of money has already been spent, so that complicates things for me a bit, but that's really the risk I signed up for. I'm sure the people who hate me and harass me will crow and rejoice at this but I finally have to admit defeat. I am woefully in over my head and do not know how to complete the Feminist Deck.
I am currently looking to secure outside employment and I will issue refunds. It may take a while to finish refunding everyone because, as I said, all the models and artists have already been paid, along with Kickstarter fees and taxes. All the models and artists are great, and the failure is entirely my fault, so it is up to me to make up the difference.
Again, I apologize for the long silence. This is embarrassing, depressing, and disheartening. I have been working to fix this and haven't made significant progress and that is even more embarrassing. As of today, with a repetitive stress injury in my drawing hand, massive depression from ongoing harassment campaigns from anti-feminists, and now debt from this project, I submit. I admit defeat. I was wrong to think I could do this project and I apologize for making you think I could do this project, too. I do not think my failure reflects in any way on all the incredible people who worked on or were a part of this project. They all did incredible work. I have been scared to admit until now that I am painfully out of my league and don't know what I'm doing.
So I need to start refunding backers. I'll be researching how to best do that this week (stripe, paypal, is there a way to do it through kickstarter I haven't found yet, I don't know.) and I'll be returning to my search for employment as anything, janitor or burger flipper or telemarketer, whatever it takes, to just pay everyone back so I can finally disappear and the hate will stop, and the angry emails will stop, and the angry tweets will stop, and the harassment will stop, and finally, finally, everything will stop.
I was wrong to think I could do a project of this size or that my art was of high enough quality for it in the first place. To the artists who provided top notch, beautiful, wonderful art for the project, I apologize. To the people who agreed to be in the deck despite the harassment it brought them, I apologize. To my backers who are so frustrated and angry and unhappy with me right now, I apologize. I will try to make this right and then I promise I won't do anything like this ever again. I'm sorry.
I will update again in on Friday July 8th at 5pm PST after doing research into refunding and hopefully securing some kind of outside employment to make up the difference for fees, taxes, and those already paid. I may not respond to comments because of anxiety and depression. I apologize. I will be accountable for this to all of you until every last one of you is refunded. I am sorry for my long silence, I've been trying to complete the deck but my inability to complete it and the harassment that comes along with it is too much for me to deal with along with my suicidal depression. I am sorry for this failure.
The project was slated to be, according to the creator, "cards celebrating and promoting feminists I admire for a project designed to support feminist creators with a focus on women." Original plans would have included the 56 card main deck, and expanding into a variant deck, backer deck which would have had artist renders of high-level backers, and even a comic and coloring book. All the art was to be done by the creator with the subjects of the cards modeling their images and being paid modeling fees from the gathered funds. The KS page had a detailed breakdown of costs and where all the spending was to go, so it left little doubt about the distribution of funds and what would already be spent by this point in the process.
There was some criticism on social media, due to some of the figures featured on the deck and the conversation surrounding the project in general. I am unable to confirm any details of harassment of the creator or anyone directly involved in the project, but it was a hotly discussed topic from time to time. Current rumor and speculation is painting this as a scam, or a con that was played on backers, but the promise of refunds rarely accompanies a scam. Unfortunately the private updates and secrecy has only led to further speculation as critics and the media have been left without a clear statement on what happened. It is, without a doubt, a failed project and a few backers are refusing the refund option. Whether the refunds happen or not it's unlikely we've seen the end of the scrutiny of this project or the speculation over the events.
An update today has a form to get refunds for those backers who would like to get their money back from the project. It mimics some of the comments about harassment in the private post, and seems to put much of the blame for the project's failure on harassment and malicious backers rather than being unable to handle the scope of the project as the private post states.