Charles Adler, Co-Founder of Kickstarter, Is Opening a Creative Space in Chicago and This Is What it Looks Like

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On Friday I finally got a chance to check out a Creative Mornings event. These things — I think the best term might be happening, actually — are notoriously hard to get tickets to. There are two big reasons for this:

  1. They are free. In fact, they’re better than free. They provide coffee, donuts and water. Do-Rite supplied the coffee and donuts at this one. I didn’t get any coffee (more on that later) but the chocolate donut I had was more than agreeable.
  1. They are cool. Cool people speak at Creative Mornings. Cool people organize them. Cool people go to them. I was actually a little intimidated by the coolness of CM happenings before I went. Luckily, cool doesn’t mean aloof and exclusive anymore like it did back in middle school. Cool means creative and nice. I found that everyone at this CM event was, in fact, very cool.

Charles Adler, co-founder of Kickstarter, was the featured speaker at this CM happening. He hosted it inside a new space for makers that he’s opening soon. It’s called Lost Arts, which is an apt name because it isn’t easy to find.

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I arrived a little after 8:30 in the morning, already sweating through my shirt and very thirsty. The space is an old warehouse (I think), so there was lots of space for seating. All of the seats looked full, but after grabbing a bottle of water and a donut, I found one. I introduced myself to the guy next to me, a software developer and fellow first-timer at a CM event. After a show of hands, it was clear that we were in the minority.

I liked Adler’s talk. He is proud of his roots as a punk rock kid. Punk values — authenticity, self-expression and community — continue to influence his work. And like any true punk, he is skeptical of large institutions and the rules — real or imaginary — that they propagate.

Kickstarter is a prime example of a product that re-wrote the rules. It has allowed anyone with an idea to connect directly with an audience — and translate their enthusiasm into financial backing for the project.

Adler’s own personal website describes one theme of his work as “empowering independent creatives.” It was true of Kickstarter — a virtual space where creators can find support — and it’s also at the heart of Lost Arts, a physical space for creative collaboration.

After his talk, Adler took questions. Most of them had to do with the logistics of Lost Arts. Ironically, there is a clear need for rules. (“What’s the minimum age for membership?” “Can people bring their own equipment?”) Worried that I had completely sweat through my clothes at that point, I got up and sipped water as I stood in the back. After he’d handed off the mic and concluded the talk, Adler stationed himself pretty close to where I was standing. So I chatted with him for a minute before heading out. For a guy who co-founded one of the most disruptive products of the last ten years, he was remarkable humble. It also struck me how genuinely interested he was in pursuing new ideas that would drive incredible experiences for other people. He expressed an urge to collaborate with Pitchfork to host live music at Lost Arts. I have a very good feeling that that will indeed happen.

James Richter is a Senior Content Strategist with Walker Sands. ..read more

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