I’ve attended Bushwick Open Studios for about 4 years in a row. If you’re not familiar, BOS is a weekend event in June where hundreds of artists open their studios to the public and show off their work. It has deeply inspired my efforts in creating an art community in Greenpoint and directly influenced the production of Greenpoint Open Studios. Chloe Bass is one of the main organizers of Arts in Bushwick, the volunteer based organization not only responsible for BOS but also SITE fest and other art events, and I’m proud to have reeled her in to the creative arts program for Skillshare, teaching a 5 session course on Making Shit Happen.
There is no better person that will guide you from idly ideating and turning those daydreams in to actual, factual, creative projects. She’s help you pitch, document, sustain, and manage your project from vision to execution. This is interview will help you itch a bit more about your nagging curiosity to jump off the safety bandwagon and Make Shit Happen!
When is an idea a bad idea? As in, at what point is a new idea nothing but a hindrance to current ideas-turned-into-projects? At what point do you let these bad ideas become moot?
I have a lot of ideas, and I don’t follow through on many of them. This isn’t because they’re bad ideas per se, but rather because I’m trying (in the interest of personal sustainability!) to stick with the development of new ideas that fold nicely into my existing projects and goals. I think ideas should become moot if they’re way outside the ballpark of the creative life you’re planning for yourself. But write them down anyway. They might be useful later.
Other categories of actually bad ideas usually include: ideas that cause harm to befall yourself or others, ideas that don’t really interest you as anything other than provocation, and ideas that you stole from someone else without a sense of your own investment in them.
What is one solid beginning step in transforming an idea into a project?
Tell someone else about it. There’s nothing like putting something out into the world to make it real.
What is creative project visioning & realization? Is it like a business plan or more an informal brainstorming session with the self?
For better or for worse, I’ve never written a business plan. Creative project visioning and realization starts with an informal brainstorming session (in spite of the New Yorker’s recent claim that brainstorming doesn’t work) and something that probably best falls under the rubric of “wildest dreaming” — i.e. what are your wildest dreams for this project? After that, though, it’s time to get rigorous with yourself. If your brain is anything like mine, you won’t have trouble coming up with new ideas or dream upon wild dream, and you can always throw dashes of these things into the process later. But the emphasis should be on just that: process. What is the process that you want to lay out for realizing your project, step by step? How does the process feed back into the project (or product) itself? Set something up that you’re actually excited and able to do, not some creative behemoth that you grow, day by day, to dread.
At point would I know that this idea for a creative project will need a team? There are ambitious folks out there unwilling to yield their power which results in becoming crazy and an unsuccessful project.
I think creative projects need teams from the moment they step out of the idea phase. That first person who you tell your idea to? That person is part of your team, even if informally. Any friend you tag as an expert to teach you about some fabrication process you need to achieve your project is a consultant. Everyone does this, even the power hungry.
The trickier question is really one of authorship. I am doing a project called the Bureau of Self-Recognition, and while there are people who have been working with me on this project in various capacities (Mitch McEwen and TJ Hospodar, to name two), the project itself is mine. It has collaborative aspects, but in and of itself it’s not collaborative.
Other projects, like Arts in Bushwick, are obviously impossible without a team: equal collaborators who have a shared sense of vision and ownership for the collected ideas, process, and products.
I don’t know if there’s really a tried and true rubric. I guess I employ more of a common sense, touchy-feely approach to this question: what feels right for the project? But if you come up with a rubric, let me know. Actually, that’s a great idea.
What are methods and ideas to turn your project into a monetized project?
I think that any project for which you need to buy even a single item becomes a monetized project, whether you like it or not. If the question is how to bring money back to you, that’s a bit more complicated.
What type of project idea should students come prepared with? I for one have an idea for a 3 day tech festival. Someone might want to open a salon while another might want to start a drawing series.
I know that one student who has already signed up for the class is coming in with some ideas for a residency program that she’s been awarded for the fall of 2012. She wants to plan out in advance how best to use her time there, and get started with that process ahead of time. I really respect that!
But really, any kind of creative project is fine. I’m not an expert in everything, but I’m interested in most things, and I’m happy to research alongside you to help you discover pretty much anything that falls outside the few “bad idea” categories listed above. What I really care about is why. Why do you want to do this? If you have a good why, I’ll be hooked.
What are some basics to project building structure?
Here are just a few out of many. I don’t want to give everything away before the class!
Think big for a little while (about the first 1/10 of the time you intend to spend on this project from soup to nuts), and for the rest of the time, think clearly. Streamline your idea, focus your efforts, and target your output.
Acquire some externally imposed deadlines. Nothing like being under the gun (and someone else’s gun, at that) to help you get things out of your head and into the world. Internal deadlines are terrific, but external deadlines are somehow a little more inspiring for most people.
Document your process. Even if you think it’s drivel, it still has content, and that content may come back as useful material in surprising ways down the line.
How do you find motivation and gumption to turn an idea into a project? I witness so many people with amazing ideas that never follow thru because of lack of confidence, lack of time, lack of support.
Percentage-wise, I think I realize about the same number of my ideas as anyone else. I just appear to realize more of them because no one knows how many unrealized ideas I still have. I think I’ve been very lucky to work within a community that supports my efforts with their own corresponding work. That kind of vitality can be hard to come by, but it’s amazing if you can get it. It helps to keep your work honest, and it also helps you to build confidence.
The time issue is a big one. I haven’t figured out how to build a machine that inserts more hours into the day, but if I do, I’ll let you know. A more important thing to remember is that you won’t do your best work if you’re working constantly. Make clear choices about what’s work time, what’s play time and what’s rest time, and do them all hard and well. It may sound corny, but it honestly makes the work more fun, too.