What I learned from making takemewithyou

takemwithyou is an installation I created in Wicker Park Bucktown, where I hid 100 disposable cameras throughout the neighborhood. Using Twitter and Tumblr, I left clues to where the cameras were hidden. takemwithyou was one of 10 finalists for Chicago’s largest art prize, “Make Believe.

This project is actually coming to a close. I wonder what has happened to the remaining 60 or so cameras that we never got back. Hm.

Event organizer extraordinaire Shannon Downey (really, she’s incredible.) asked all the artists to put together a “what we’ve learned” writeup for her. I just decided to write a blog because it’s a lot more fun this way.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

You can do anything you put your mind to
In case you didn’t know, this is the very first real “art thing” that I’ve done. It all began because I got kind of restless at work, and needed a creative outlet. So I started the 30-Day Creativity project, where made myself do one creative thing every day. (On Day 11, I made the HoppyCow blog) Once I finished the project, I wondered, “What’s next?” That’s when @wpbmakebelieve tweeted @redeyechicago one day about the ‘Make Believe’ competition. It seemed crazy, but I talked to Jared about it, and he said, “Why not?” So began the brainstorming. I really wanted to do something that would engage the entire community and also be digital, so that it could be enjoyed by people who didn’t live in Wicker Park.  For a while we kicked around ideas for touch screens and projection art. But then we decided to go analog. takemewithyou was born. Thank you so much to WPBMakeBelieve, because I did not actually believe that I could do art until they encouraged me. Now I really do think you can do anything you put your mind to.

Um, I need to be organized
I’ve learned so much about doing a large scale art project — from getting materials, assembling camera kits, phone calls and emails to store managers, weekly treks to Wicker Park to drop off cameras, coordinating clues, weekly treks to downtown to drop off and pick up cameras, weekly “computer time” to upload photos and blog, hours upon hours in the store adding to the installation — you need to be organized and come up with a game plan. I didn’t have one. I just fulfilled the needs as they came up, but I really should’ve come up with a plan, a system, for the entire multi-step process.

The folks in Wicker Park are awesome
I spent so much time in Wicker Park, working with store owners, dropping off cameras, running into people, watching people pick up cameras, installing in the storefront, buying materials, etc. Everyone was incredibly kind, including the storeowners who were actually excited that I would be stashing cameras at their stores. I paced up and down the streets of the neighborhood, looking for places to stash cameras. And the one time I saw people “find” one… I had to stop myself from jumping up and down with glee. My last installation day a few weeks back, people actually stopped by the storefront to chat with me. They would tell me that they had heard about the project. While I was working in the store, I overheard one person telling a group of people about my project — no prompting! People have also emailed me and tweeted me, saying that they walk by the store all the time and love it. Man, that part is just so amazing.

There are some really cool artists in Chicago!
While I’ve always loved art, Make Believe really hooked me into the artist community in Chicago. I started seeing them on Twitter, people Facebook-friended me, I saw them at events, I ran into them at the store, or while I was running around Wicker Park. I’ve gained a whole new level of respect for community artists — they are doing some great stuff out there, stuff that moves people in a totally local, human way.

Friends are awesome
The support and kindness people have extended toward me (all while I spam them with takemewithyou updates) has been absolutely incredible. I am so thankful that I have such wonderful friends.

Don’t randomly move to Boston in the middle of the art project
That really threw a kink into things.

Shannon also asked us to round up a link of press, or people who had written about our project. Here’s the list:

CBS Chicago: 100 Chicagoans’ Lives Exposed In Photo Exhibit

Marie Claire: Editor’s Choice blog

Gapers Block: Make Believe this Summer

TimeOut Chicago: Wicker Park gets pop-up art

Our Urban Times: Make believe, reflect and vote

The Puzzler: takemewithyou, a collaborative art project

MajorDojo: Take Me With You

WindyCitizen: takemewithyou (we were #1 on their homepage!)

iShootRockstars: What’s going on in the kitchen?

StilBlog: takemewithyou

Chicago Pipeline: In ‘Make Believe,’ Vacant Storefronts Offer More than Just Space

You’re A Serious Lady: photo

Stuff That Means Nothing: photo

WestNorth: Crossing The Line

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of the project. You are incredible.