Wednesday, October 28, 2009

my solution: code name "creative challenge"

Creative Challenge is a subscription-based service (web or snail mail) where users receive prompts, materials and timelines to create work and share it in a virtual studio.


My interviewees cited a lack of time, inspiration or funds to create art. There was also a common longing for the structure of art classes and the sense of community found within a working art why not create a service which provided minimal structure, subtle prompts and a responsive community to get them back in the habit of making art. I do not want to create a "crutch" for artists, merely a set of training wheels to allow them to acheive balance and gain confidence, only to remove the training wheels and ride off on their own in the future.

If people were to receive creative prompts, they would make work and share it with others. This could create a virtual “studio” space where artists could interact, seek feedback, and express themselves. Eventually people may get back in the habit of making art without having to receive the prompts.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

competitive experiences

It is hard for me to identify exact corollary experiences to analyze since I am uncertain as to what my final solution will be. Below are a few similar experiences that I have identified as related to my intended area of focus. This list will change and grow as I refine my solution space, and only reflects a small portion of the many competitive experiences I have researched.

paint-your-own pottery studios

These studios attract adults and children to create pottery of their own design. Painters apply surface design to pre-formed bisque pottery with underglazes and then leave the pieces to be glazed and fired by studio staff. The resulting pieces can be functional since they are food, dishwasher and microwave-safe, but there are also knick-knacks/figurines available, including a recently discovered ceramic bust of Barack Obama.

Customers pay a studio fee to cover the cost of glazes and firing in addition to the price of the piece. This typically covers 2 hours of studio time, so there is some element of a time constraint, although people can always stay longer (and pay more) or come back another time to finish. In addition to a time constraint, the form of the pieces is predetermined, so creativity is limited to the type of the piece selected. Paint-your-own pottery studios are typically warm and cozy (with kilns running) and can smell odd (the scents of kilns running and the glazes themselves). The experience is also very visual and tactile for the participant, which is an expected part of the activity.

Rock Paper Scissors Collective
An Oakland non-profit that provides: "an accessible space that offers free and low-cost classes, curated and open submission art shows, the retail of independently made clothing/craft/zines/music, a drop in arts lab, community events space, and youth involvement" ( This organization provides numerous classes in printmaking, sewing, writer's support groups and bicycle maintenance. To become an official member of the collective, one must first volunteer as workers in the space for 6 months, participate in a project, and then get voted on by the core membership.

The storefront space is multi-purpose: it is used as a gallery, workspace and venue.  Although classes tend to be very casual and somewhat small, the space faces out onto a busy street, so it does not feel particularly intimate. There is also a store in part of the space, so there is disruptive foot traffic during some of the daytime classes. Anyone can sign up for a class or attend a public event, and they are typically free or very low cost. The space itself has a very grungy, raw appearance and all furnishings and tools look well-used.

Continuing Education/Adult Learning Classes
There are numerous courses available which cover virtually any medium, but they tend to be somewhat expensive and time-consuming. These can be at many different venues, ranging from a place like the Rock Paper Scissors Collective (described above) or a large university.

In addition to being potentially cost-prohibitive, scheduling becomes an issue for many students. Art and/or craft-related courses tend to meet for 3 hours a week, which for some may be impossible to attend due to scheduling conflicts. The experience can be very fulfilling, and a community may form as a result. However, if students are simply taking courses piecemeal, they may only form tenuous relationships with professors and classmates. The sensorial nature of the experience depends on the type of class taken, but could be very rich. For example an oil painting class could be full of toxic-smelling fumes, bright colors and variable texture, while a pottery class may be a very intense touch-based experience.  

Intended Solution Focus

While anxiety and making play a role in this new permutation of my project, I am currently exploring a variety of concepts which intend to jump-start "stuck" ex-artists/crafters to help them find their voice and start making art again. The new working title for my project is BLANKCANVAS.

BLANKCANVAS is a collection of solution concepts and prototypes which all intend to provide an experience which is extremely meaningful to my target audience of ex-artists/crafters, and propels them to make art or craft projects again. Based on my user research, this segment associates the act of art making with the following core meanings:
  • Accomplishment
  • Community
  • Creation
At this point in the project, I have many preliminary ideas. To provide some context for the following competitive experience analysis, I will first share two of my prototype ideas.

concept 01: start/stop
a web-based service which connects people who are stuck at different phases in their creative process. Within my research, some interviewees stated "it's hard to start" while others stated "it's hard to finish" an art/craft project. If these two types of people were able to swap ideas or projects, or even offer words of support to each other, it would help them through the hardest part of their personal making process.

concept 02: creative challenge
a subscription (web or snail mail) where users would receive prompts and timelines to create work. My research pointed to a common longing for the structure of art classes and the sense of community within a working studio, but a lack of time. By subscribing to this service, members would feel somewhat accountable to make the work and may share it with other members. This would create a “studio” space where members could interact, seek feedback, and express themselves.