My fellow Uprise artist Chad Kouri recently completed a really cool project called Art for All. The concept is pretty easy. You simply text your first and last name to a special phone number +1 (312) 635-4223 and a completely unique digital piece of art by Chad will be texted back to you. You will have the option to purchase it as a print in various sizes, bringing the digital realm into real life.
Here’s my piece:
I talked to Chad to find out more about how he came up with this clever idea.
Tell me about your project.
Art for All is a text message activated automated art project that Build This and I have been developing for about 8 months or so. The idea is simple: text message +1 312-635-4223 with your first and last name and in return, you’ll get a free digital artwork totally unique to you. We feel very strongly that this basic interaction should be free for everyone, and those who can afford to support the project can do so by donating or buying a print of their work. A lot of my practice is based around the approachability of art and alternative methods or venues of displaying it. This is just another opportunity for me to break expectations of the typical art world models in every aspect—creation, viewing and commerce.
How did you come up with this idea?
I do a lot of investigating and development of systems in my studio. Whether that’s a set of limitations to create my cut paper works, choosing color palettes, or gathering overheard tidbits for my text-based works, they all help remove me from the anxiety and second guessing that comes naturally in the creative process. I think less about making the right decision because the systems dictate the process, therefore I’m free to react after the work is done, rather than agonizing about making the work during the creative process.
How many shapes did you have to create to get so many outcomes?
I don’t wait to reveal too much of the magic here, but I will tell you that this algorithm is capable of creating one million different pieces of art, with a possible expansion of ten million. It’s also set up in such a way that we can “re-skin” the process, giving us the ability to collaborate with other artists or entities to develop their own interactions and unique artworks in the future. We are very interested in moving this into the commercial realm whether that means working with art fairs, ad agencies or otherwise.
How long was the process and what was it like working in the digital realm?
It’s been about 8 months since we started developing this concept, but it’s a side project so we have been slowing chipping away at it. We had a working prototype after about 2 or 3 weekends of working on it, but had some issues with phone services automatically blocking our replies because they assumed they were spam so there was a bit of trial and error to get through that. Although 8 months sounds like a while, in actual working hours it really wasn’t too bad, especially considering how much we can do with it. We likely could have worked this out in a few weeks if we had dedicated time on it.
Working within an art context in the digital realm has been quite enlightening. I like how quickly things can be made and how easily mistakes can be corrected. You can’t ding a corner or get greasy fingers on a digital file! I also like how fast things travel from person to person when they are specifically made to be seem digitally. We’ve had a ton of people share their works through Instagram which has been a great help in spreading the word.