Last week I came across half a dozen spare Draw For The Bin cards.
I was about to put them in recycling but thought of a better use for them. I let folks in my network know I had the cards, and offered to doodle on them for anyone who wanted one. Six people quickly accepted the offer, and I began to draw, seeking to make each card relevant to the recipient in some way.
The cards duly went in the post, and I’ve had some lovely feedback from the recipients. We all lived happily ever after. The end. Not quite…
I really enjoyed doing this. It wasn’t particularly time consuming, but the whole thing – asking – drawing – sending, and then getting feedback, was a joyful experience. I used to do this kind of thing quite often. When I visited exhibitions, conferences, other gatherings, I’d frequently buy and make small things I could post to people. Some of these things had a use, and some, like these cards, just felt like the right thing to do.
I can’t recall exactly when I drifted out of this habit, but rekindling it last week has reminded me of the joy it brings. As far as this element of my practice goes, I want to be the somebody that I used to know. Watch this space…
A case study about using creative practice to build trust, and explore new ways of working together.
Productive, successful teams recognise the importance of relationships, not just with clients and customers, but with each other too. Redevco is a retail real estate investment management company, and their London team recently hired me to explore a creative way of getting to know each other better.
When doing something differently, the environment we work in is really important. Encouragement beats competition, process beats outcome, and a willingness to give new things a try, is vital. At its heart, art is simply mark making, something we all do all of the time, whether through doodling in the margins during a meeting, or writing the weekly shopping list. To this extent, art can be demystified, and we can agree that we are all artists. The session begins by setting the scene, including a brief introduction to the tools and materials we will use, before starting work.
As time passes, the work grows, overlaps and reshapes. People ask questions, talk about their experiences of creating something new, and keep going. Eventually we arrive at a single co-created piece.
We shift to individual work – abstracting using new materials and tools, hardly a paint brush in sight. We keep focusing on the process and make. The session concludes with people sharing some good conversations, and good work.
Afterwards, the folks at Redevco said:
‘Doug came to our office to run an experimental art session
with the aim of trying something new, having fun and getting to know each other
We started the session working together to produce a
monochrome piece. Although daunted by the large piece of blank paper and
hesitant to begin with, we soon got stuck in and it didn’t take long before our
independent drawings morphed into a collaborative piece (which we aim to
proudly display in the office). It was a really great way to start off the
session, it loosened us up and got us working as a team. We then experimented
using mixed media to create individual pieces, this enabled us to get really
creative and meant we could leave the session with a piece of our own.
Doug was really engaging and passionate throughout, which
helped put everyone at ease. It was great to see the transformation in my
colleagues from start to finish; although apprehensive about their artistic
skills in the beginning, with Doug’s encouragement we all finished the session
eager to paint more! It was the hot topic in the office the following day, with
everyone discussing their work.
Would definitely recommend and book again, Doug fulfilled
our brief and then some….’
My experience as an organisational development consultant and artist gives me a unique perspective on how we can use art and creativity to help us think and do things differently, as individuals, as teams, and beyond. I’d love to help you explore this too.
The last couple of weekends have been hectic, and good fun. As well as celebrating the third anniversary of the free art project, I’ve been helping to celebrate the launch of some excellent new music, produced by some good friends in the band ELTEL.
I first became aware of their album launch way back in the Autumn of 2018, when the band kindly approached me and asked if I’d make some art for the front and back cover of the album. I had previously sent one of the band members a card which I’d adapted to reflect the ELTEL black and white striped style, and we further adapted that design for the front cover.
While preparing to make the art, I spent time reading through lyrics, and listening to a couple of early track recordings. There are a few food references in the words, so for the back cover, I designed the piece on the right, titled ‘The Last Thing On The Table’. These two 12″ square canvases were handed over to the band in November 2018 and I’ve been sworn to secrecy about their existence, until now.
There were three album launch events over the past two weekends, and I made it to two of them, at The Lamb in Surbiton, and at The Brook in Wallington. As well as getting to hear all the new music live, I also saw a piece of my art blown up onto a 6 foot square banner. On both nights, I was also given the unexpected and unscripted pleasure of introducing the band and the excellent Dirty Carols who accompanied them.
The gig at The Brook was really special, a sold out intimate venue, packed with great music and lovely people. I felt really privileged to see my work on show, and to be able to introduce excellent musicians to an excellent audience. We gathered together for a photo afterwards, and the bands put their producer Andy Brook, and me, front and centre. What a lovely thing to do. Thank you for including me, and thanks also, for trusting me, what a powerful thing to do.
The new album contains ten wonderfully crafted, quirky, beautiful tunes. You can download and listen to it here. It’s excellent.