The Crowdsourceress And The Designer: Alex Daly and Hamish Smyth

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At any given point there are about 7,000 active projects on Kickstarter, the majority of which will not meet their fundraising goal. But the projects that Alex Daly throws her support behind? They have a 100 percent success rate.

Daly, who has been called the “crowdsourceress,” is the founder of Vann Alexandra, a client services agency that gets cool, creative projects funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You might have heard of some of the campaigns that Vann Alexandra carried across the finish line, which include Neil Young’s PonoMusic initiative, the Joan Didion documentary We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, and the reissue of the Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda 1970 NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual, a graphic design bible.

The last campaign was helmed by Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth, two designers for the internationally-renowned design studio Pentagram. Smyth is also Daly’s boyfriend. The couple, who met over vodka shots at a Pentagram party, believe that crowdfunded design campaigns can provide a new avenue for designers in a shifting paradigm for the sector, where investors are hungry and aesthetics are homogenized. Other recent projects Smyth has worked on include Bellingcat, a website by British investigative journalist Eliot Higgins, a.k.a. Brown Moses (who Daly successfully crowdfunded for too)., and WalkNYC, a DOT project to design a comprehensive wayfinding system for NYC that Smyth designed at Pentagram as part of PentaCityGroup.

Portrait by Kenneth Bachor
  • WalkNYC pedestrian wayfinding system designed while at Pentagram, 2012

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