my interactive art exhibit experiment

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art gallery, books, ebook, fine art, sketchbook, words and pictures

Some time ago I observed that when people visit art galleries or art museums they often have one hand on their smart phone or tablet. While at a gallery or museum people collect brochures, booklets, books and “artist monographs”.  They sit and read the booklets and look things up on their phones.  They lean in and look at any text near the artwork. If there are scan-tags or headphones or videos or website references – those get used. It’s called an “interactive exhibit”.

And yes, people do still look at the art without any ‘media aids’.  Here’s a picture the gallery owner at Caplan Art Designs snapped and shared with me of a kid who spent a lot of time just looking at one of my artworks in the gallery.

BoyLookingAtMyArt

Yet the media aids seem useful. So about a year ago I thought “I want to create an ‘interactive exhibit’!” and set about doing it.  The first step was to propose such a thing. My agent at Caplan Art Designs was enthusiastic about my idea and arranged for my exhibit to be located at The Daily Cafe in The Pearl where people could ‘enjoy good food’ while looking at my artwork about enjoying things!

As I worked to create a new body of artwork for this exhibit, titled “Paws to Enjoy”, I kept a sketchbook and a journal writing each thought, no matter how silly, as it related to my theme: pausing to enjoy things.

As readers of this blog you know I’ve been posting these sketchbook pages over the course of the year. Some of the pages looked like this:

DinersDining72

Some looked like this:

AlexieWritingAdviceNPasta72

You can find more of such past posts of my sketchbook pages by scrolling down a page and clicking on the + sign which will reveal an archive list.

My point being that halfway through my year of creating new artworks towards a body of work that could be in this current exhibit I had a LOT of sketchbook pages.  So I selected a grouping of my sketchbook pages and some images of my finished fine art and created an eBook using Book Baby http://www.bookbaby.com/ My criteria for what went into the eBook was that it had to be fun, useful to the reader and would somehow show, by association, how my creative thought pattern works.  The book would be relevant to the current art exhibit but also reflect “how I think” in a more general sense.

I titled my eBook “Coffee, Table, Book” because (spoiler alert) I enjoy coffee, food on tables and books and those are often my artistic inspirations. This fit with my current art exhibit theme nicely – and covers my general artistic thinking (and contains some recipes!).

For my book cover I created a scribbly sketchbook style cover because I wanted to emphasize that this eBook contains my sketchbook pages, the collected thoughts behind my fine artwork. Here’s the cover art:

FrontCoverEbook72w

Because I hoped that people would use their smartphones while looking at my physical artwork my eBook file is in several downloadable formats. The book is obtainable via my website or via Amazon and many other places that sell eBooks. If the reader sets the Portrait Orientation Lock feature “on” in their smart phone or tablet it’ll be fun viewing as “artistically intended”. Here is a direct link for the book: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/coffee-table-book

A side benefit of doing this eBook has been that the gallery has been able to share it with their clients. Once I realized that the gallery was using the book to help explain my complicated artwork I posted on my website www.sueclancy.com a downloadable pdf file that would help explain my art technique using pictures. For simplicity’s sake that pdf file is here: AboutPreyingForPeas

The gallery shared that file with clients and other things that I posted on Facebook and Twitter (see my Home page for links). So that became another aspect of “interactivity” – as I posted (and still do) on my Facebook page, photos like this of me working:

Zpaper

All of these elements have been useful as communication aids for the gallery, as upcoming exhibit “teasers”, and as an interactive part of my current exhibit.

The exhibit “Paws to enjoy” actually went up on the walls October 1 2015.  I’d been working towards it since before July in 2014.  The exhibit looks like this (it’ll be up until Nov 2nd 2015):

exhibitphotobyAmy

There are a few other walls with more of my artwork on them too!

Anyway, as I’d alluded to earlier the gallery promoted the exhibit before it opened. I did too. Someone who saw an image of one of my new artworks online contacted the gallery and bought it before the exhibit opened.  As the exhibit progressed people contacted the gallery, contacted me, talked with the cafe owners – basically there’s been lots of “interactivity” both before and during the exhibit!  And as I’d hoped, people have used their smart phones to interact with my artwork!  Here are just two of the comments:

“Hi Sue! We LOVED your exhibit! The artwork looks wonderful on your website, but seeing them in person was a very different experience. They’re so vibrant, and you can get more of a feel of the depth and layers of materials. WOW! Thanks so much for letting us know about the exhibit. P.S. The food was good too.”

“We took our 2 grandchildren to lunch at the cafe and the youngest one (age 3) kept looking at your artwork, pointing and saying “doggy”, “rabbit” or “kitty”. I don’t think he’d ever noticed art on the walls before. The older one enjoyed your art too. Thank you.”

I heard from a lot of local (Pacific Northwest) people and from people all around the world – thanks to Facebook, Twitter and this blog.  Many people said that they’ve enjoyed getting to “see more” or “follow” my exhibit online and via my eBook. My agent at Caplan Art Designs even extended the time my exhibit was displayed at The Daily Cafe due to the exhibit popularity!

All in all my exhibit “interactivity” experiment has been a success! Now i want to do an even better job of creating interactive exhibits in the future…