Tag Archives: social art

Social Artists – a new podcast with @artistsmakers

This morning I had a skype conversation with my friend and oftentimes collaborator, Dan Thompson. We talked about what we’ve been doing and stuff and then got into the subject of social art, what it is, how you pay for it, who can do it, etc. It’s not a conversation that’s finished, we’ll be doing more of these, I’m sure.

Download the podcast (29.4MB)

Show Notes

Exploring Collaborative Social Art

Come and experience making social art together at the Centre for Creative Collaboration next Wednesday evening (15th December).

Please book on Eventbrite – it says “Free” but that means “pay on the day” :)

My definition of social art is “The process or product of skilfully bringing people together in such a way as to create a sense of beauty in those that see or participate in it”

I’m going to run a workshop from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on what I’ve learned so far about making social art in a collaborative environment.

The kinds of work I’m talking about usually has a significant online component but works to complement offline activity. Examples of my social art include Tuttle itself, Tuttle2Texas and Most Interesting

You will come away afterwards with:

  • a new idea to work on or progress on an existing idea
  • an understanding of the key elements of such a project – especially how to get started
  • an appreciation of the work and roles involved
  • a set of social tools ready for you to get started
  • an action plan for starting your own collaborative social art project

As this is a brand new workshop I’m offering it on a “pay what you think it’s worth” basis – bring your cheque-book :)

Curses!

It wasn’t supposed to be like this… an invoice was “supposed” to be paid on Friday and ease some pressure, but that won’t happen till next Friday now – and this week is the turn of the month when a few things fall due.

I had a great week of adventure last week – donations made, micropatronage, albums sold, meals bought for me, all accompanied by great conversation, love and support, thank you all very much.

I mostly enjoy this style of living, but occasionally I still get a cold sweat when it looks like it’s not going to work out the way I want it to and I’m going to have to face some embarrassing loss of face about not being able to keep a commitment. I was having one of those a minute ago, that’s why I’m writing now.

More suggestions welcome. Still open to bits of work as detailed last week (nothing came of this – interesting, don’t know if it’s that people can’t pay that immediately, or they just don’t have stuff for me to do).

Donations & micropatronage do work best for me when direct to my bank – avoiding the paypal clearing cycle.

However, purchasing stuff still helps too.

And just feeding me earns you a well-bent ear.

Integration rather than compromise

I was talking a while ago about compromise in the context of concentrating on social art and being a social artist – recognising that I had to do this, it was no good going back and compromising with other work because I’d only end up back here again trying to find an answer.

I am at the moment though just starting a few new things that at first glance look a bit more like standard social media consulting assignments.

Am I compromising? I don’t think so, I prefer to see it as integrating art and commerce, making something new. I can’t guarantee I’ll get it right, but I’m having a go.

I think I’ve seen where I needed to make a shift – to move from avoiding the bits of social media consulting work that I’m qualified to do, but which aren’t obviously social art towards taking more of an artistic approach to clients and prospects who ask for advice.

One of the first lessons in consulting I got was “Always reframe. Never take any assignment as given” So I’m now committing to taking on assignments with the caveat that I will always turn them into some sort of social art. That I will talk about them in those terms, I will reframe briefs and open them up to the network. After all, my perceived value most of the time is that I am part of a large network (although along with that sometimes comes some confusion over network dynamics, talk of influentials, etc)

Obviously this has to be in collaboration with the client. I don’t want to keep the process hidden from them but neither can I simply expose every brief wantonly to everyone I know. But I think it’s important to show people how we work, showing by example how to engage with a network as well as telling them what they should do.

Do as I say *and* as I do.

The Social Art of Travelling across the USA

tuttle2texas

Hmmm… that feels like a big title for something important. Well I suppose it is. In a way it’s what I’m thinking about all the time – how might I repeat the adventure of last March? Do I want to? (yes) Why do I want to? How to do it differently? What do I want to keep? What to I want to avoid?

And answering all those questions feel like issues of control. And what I learned last year is that what’s interesting in this space is what happens when you let go of control. What happens when you simply put yourself in a place with a few rules and structures ie where you can have only minimal control over what happens next? What happens when you willingly conspire with yourself to create an adventure where you end up in a hotel room in New York, writing on your blog that you don’t know where you’re going to stay in 3 days time when you arrive in New Orleans? What do you learn? What can you do differently if you come across this situation again.

Where’s the wisdom literature about this? Well it turns out that the great spiritual works boil down to life being a journey into the unknown and how you deal with the pitfalls along the way – but they do it at a very abstract level. There are principles in there that are useful, about staying in the moment, letting the process (God, the Tao, Flying Spaghetti Monster) happen, letting the universal power do it’s work and getting out of the way, surrendering to that power.

And then there’s movies. A much more socially acceptable way of exploring these ideas in the 21st Century than reading the Bible :) Pretty much everything is a Hero’s Journey, but some are more literally about a journey than others. Frankie and I asked on twitter the other day for favourite examples. We got:

Wild at Heart
Easy Rider
Apocalypse Now
Road to Perdition
The Odyssey
O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Jason & the Argonauts
39 Steps
North by NW
Africa United
Two-Lane Blacktop
Butch Cassidy & Sundance Kid
Midnight Run
The Blues Brothers
Kings of the Road
Paris, Texas
Thelma & Louise

Just a random Friday afternoon selection – chuck some more in – when we’ve got a fuller list and an idea of which are most useful, I’ll run some screenings/conversations to explore this idea a bit further.

Umm… so why might this be important beyond simply making something beautiful?

Well, consider you’re an established FMCG brand for example. You know you want something like the Old Spice campaign. You buy the *theory* that you should be involving customers and engaging them beyond a 2010 version of a caption-writing contest, but you also know that this means ceding some control.

Yes, the C-word again. It’s what freaks the bejaysus out of people in businesses like that – we’ve all seen it: they want to do the new cool thing, they want to play in this space, but they sit at the edge of the playground afraid to join in.

But what if there was a safe way of doing it, of practicing it in such a way that you could bring it into your every day work – mightn’t that be a way of sliding along the spectrum towards real engagement? What if you didn’t have to do it at all, but you could just hear the story of someone else doing it, not in a packaged, polished, rationalised case study after the dust had settled, what if you could watch the people doing it in real time (and maybe join in and give them a hand if you had something they needed)?

Maybe?

Last tenner

I just broke my last tenner buying stuff for breakfast tomorrow. Hmmm… it wasn’t supposed to still be like this but the truth is that it isn’t a sob story, it’s just the way things are for today and things can change very quickly. [UPDATE: micropatrons & postcard buyers have saved the bacon for now... thankyou! proper update later]

I was reminded of this today when I found myself telling the #tuttle2texas story again, to a bunch of people who knew very little about me or the social web. I talked, as usual, about how I learned to keep asking for help and keep trusting that the right help would turn up. They were primarily gobsmacked that I took the accomplishment of traveling the breadth of the USA, fuelled by social capital so lightly, that I didn’t talk about how proud I am of what we did or speak with more enthusiasm about how amazing it was.

It *was* amazing. Lots of you helped make it that way. I could not have done it without you. But here’s something: I don’t think I’ve acknowledged for myself yet that you might never have done it without me.

Same goes for Tuttle as a whole. It isn’t about me, it never has been, I couldn’t do it on my own. But the people who are interested in the social web in London (and Birmingham, Cornwall, Long Beach etc) probably wouldn’t have otherwise done something quite the same.

That’s one of the insights I’ve been given as a result of asking for Linked-in recommendations. There’s stuff hanging about in this world that wouldn’t be here if I had been around. Good stuff, that people like and value. Not necessarily big stuff, but stuff that’s important to those people whose lives it has touched.

To those who’ve been trying to tell me this for years, I’m sorry, I’m a bit slow to catch up.

And then there’s the invisible stuff. A common thread in some of the recommendations I’ve had this week is the idea that you might not see what it is that I do.

David Jennings says “His craft works so well… that it’s almost invisible – ditto his leadership…”

Johnnie Moore puts it like this: “… one of his finest qualities is his humility and reluctance to show off and put other people in the shadow.” and “He will help make connections and realise the potential of networks and he’ll do it so skilfully that you might not notice him doing it.”

Jo Jacobs uses the ‘c’ word: “His work… has been the catalyst for so many other collaborative ventures and meetings”.

Nathalie McDermott says: “Lloyd… provides the perfect conditions for others to meet, spark off each other and make things happen which is a rare talent.”.

But if you can’t see it (unless you get to know me and look up close), how do you know whether it’s really there? How do you distinguish this from the Emperor’s New Clothes? And if you didn’t pay for it and it went away, how would you know? Would you really miss it? What difference would it really make?

No other earth-shattering insights for now. If you can see something obvious that I can’t, please do point it out.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably dipped in your pockets or helped in some other way already. Thank you. If you’re inclined to do one more thing perhaps you could encourage others to do the same as you did for me.

If you’re just catching up you can find other posts about it here and here.

macro works too

I’ve asked a number of people to write recommendations for me on linked-in – it’s been a(nother) humbling experience to see myself as others see me.

This snip from Dave Briggs has grabbed a few folks’ attention:

“Lloyd has the bravery to make himself and his life an integral part of his work. He literally lives and breathes this stuff. If I had lots of money, I would give a pile of it to Lloyd to just carry on being him. You should, too.”

So if you’ve avoided micropatronage so far because it’s just not big enough, listen to Dave ;)

You can see my linked-in profile here