Happy Birthday

Late last century, when I was twelve or thirteen, my mom told one of her uncles that I like to write. “Oh,” he said with sudden interest. “Do we have a budding starving artist in the family?”

I didn’t lose a beat before answering, “Absolutely not. I love writing, but I’m not going to starve for it.” I was irritated, but mostly because the question was condescending. Now I’m angry, because it should have been unfounded.

Over fifteen years later, I’d win a contest meant for beginners. The professional practices surrounding the contest were slipshod and exploitative. The culture around the accolades was demeaning. Many, many people were quick to defend it by pointing out I should be grateful for the honor, and asking me to have forbearance because, after all, it’s all very hard to do. I was angry then. I’ve since managed a different contest meant for beginners and now I’m furious. I’ve learned so, so much, but my biggest lesson is that, actually, doing it well and respecting the professionals involved isn’t that hard.

Five years ago I outlined the gaps in support for creatives, especially ones working in the speculative arts. Game of Thrones was one of the biggest shows on television. Star Wars and Marvel were both deep in vibrant and wildly successful movie franchises. Terraforming Mars was running like a juggernaut through the tabletop gaming world. The value of creative work was obvious and uncontestable. The support for the people doing that work, the cross-training to help individuals fully participate in an industry that requires many hats from its professionals, the platform for artists practicing in a wide variety of different mediums to connect with each other and share their experience, craft, and insight, didn’t exist. I shared my outline demonstrating the need for an organization that would both support creatives and advocate for their interests. People came out of the woodwork to make it happen. I will forever be gobsmacked and honored by that.

But I’m still angry.

Artists shouldn’t starve. It’s that simple. Five years on, Dream Foundry has built a wonderful community, made contributions to the industry I am extremely proud of, and served as an example of what’s possible. But artists are still starving. We’re coming together with our peers and colleagues to learn, grow, improve, and share tips on how to deal with an industry that considers physically destructive conditions, impossible deadlines, and exploitative pay to be something we should be grateful for. That support is good. It’s necessary. It’s not enough. We’re helping each other drown more slowly.

In our first five years, Dream Foundry focused on the nurturing part of our mission. That’s not going away. But Dream Foundry isn’t content to be a life preserver. The ship isn’t sinking; creatives are being thrown from the deck. We survived five years that were harder than anyone could have anticipated. A global pandemic came and we grew. People need us, and we know that. But to be true to our mission, we need to lean into the advocacy part of our mission. To do that well, we need to grow. We need you. 

Dream Foundry was founded in June of 2018. Today, which is also my birthday, we’re opening the five week launch of a campaign meant to serve as the foundation for our next phase. If you’re angry, tired, hopeful, or some mix of all of those, this is for you. If you want somebody who’s willing to step up to a thriving industry and say, “You will do better,” then I hope you’ll help us hit our goal. In the coming weeks, we’ll reflect on what we’ve done so far. Come share our pride. Then, if you’d like to see what more we can do, be part of the campaign to ensure we’ll make even more out of our next five years.

– Jessica Eanes, Founder and Executive Director

$25,000 for Five Years

We want to raise $25,000 to serve as a foundation for the next two years. Here’s a breakdown of what that money will enable us to do:

  • Double the cash prizes offered for the Emerging Artist and Emerging Writer contests
  • Chart a course for being able to apply meaningful pressure on the industry on behalf of creatives
  • Relaunch our free-to-attend seminar series
  • Create a set of tools and resources to enable increased event accessibility
  • Increase the grants we can make through our Con or Bust program
  • Provide a structured environment for experimentation with creator-forward business models
  • Improve the platform for Flights of Foundry
  • Develop and collect pedagogy resources for multi-disciplinary craft training 

Ready to help? Donate now!