CASE STUDY – 2021
THE BRING YOUR OWN ART ART-SHOW
Born of SSHH NYC, B.Y.O.A.A.S. is an open-door art show where new and established artists get together for a few hours to exhibit their work, have the chats, and hopefully make a sale in the process.
Working with The Locals I setup the B.Y.O.A.A.S. Dublin chapter in 2019, and after 5 successful shows in Lucky’s Bar, a move to the bigger venue of Hen’s Teeth Store was planned, before the pandemic put the brakes on that.
B.Y.O.A.A.S. thus took on a virtual format during lockdown, culminating in a ‘B.Y.O.A.A.S. TV’ virtual multi-room exhibition streamed on Friday Sept 10th 2021.
Event Organization / Content Production / Web Design & Build (WordPress)
In 2018 I saw Braulio Amado’s NYC studio SSHH promote a ‘bring your own art’ event on Instagram. Feeling inspired to organize something similar in Dublin I approached John Mahon who owns Lucky’s Bar on Meath St to see if he would be interested, as Lucky’s holds regular art exhibitions and John (previously of Bodytonic) also runs The Locals project.
John was indeed into the project so once we got a blessing off Braulio we put a plan in place to run the first B.Y.O.A.A.S. Dublin chapter in Lucky’s in Feb 2019.
FIRST SHOWS IN LUCKYS
Plugging the show on Instagram and Facebook, I worked to keep the format as close to the original as possible, however it being a commercial venue we decided that 30% of sales would go to charity with the rest going to the artist.
For the first event we had 47 new and established artists turn up which was brilliant, as with the essence of the show being it’s spontaneity (not knowing who and how many people will turn up), I decided against pre-registration for the first event.
I was also careful that the language and visuals used on social media never portrayed the event as something it wasn’t, and people seemed happy with the semi-guerrila format.
I went on to produce 5 shows in Lucky’s (the second being included as part of the Offset Festival’s Offsite program) attracting 50 – 80 artists per show.
The show format remained pretty much the same, save for incremental improvements as we went such as opening up queue-busting pre-registration before the event and streamlining the sales process.
Manning the front desk I received a lot of input from participating artists and attendees – the response was very positive with hugs going on to become a regular occurrence at the end of each show.
With the BYOAAS community growing it was apparent we needed a bigger venue, and so in Feb 2020 the move to the new Hens Teeth premises was announced with the first show to be April 17th. There would also be an after party to be hosted in Lucky’s so as to keep it a joint venture.
The pandemic then hit which temporarily shelved those plans!
MOVING IT ONLINE
The value of BYOAAS as an opportunity for new artists to show their work had become very apparent during the shows, and so with the country in lockdown, I held an Instagram version of the show on April 17th.
Artists were to share their work between 19:30 and 20:30, tagging @bringyourowndub. I’d then share all the artwork in our stories and save the shows in our highlights.
The first online show got a brilliant turnout of nearly 150 artists taking part with lots of positive feedback and interaction through Instagram DM’s
After that initial online show I took the opportunity to check in with the B.Y.O.A.A.S. community and ask them a bit about their experience so far. I received over 90 responses and people were very forthcoming with constructive feedback and encouragement which was a great bolster in terms of doing more online shows. The most common critique was that the show had outgrown Lucky’s and so that further validated the decision to move to a bigger venue.
On the back of this positive feedback I did May and June show before taking a break and coming back with a show in November.
Other online shows and print sales had really taken off during lockdown and so to preserve the freshness of B.Y.O.A.A.S. I felt it best to then take a hiatus until the opportunity to revisit the format arose.
B.Y.O.A.A.S. – 2.0
In August 2021 myself, John and Greg Spring of Hen’s Teeth started looking at ways to revive the show in an online/offline capacity.
One of the key elements that made B.Y.O.A.A.S. special is it’s ephemeral and relatively spontaneous nature where anyone and any number of people could take part.
With the remaining government restrictions on gatherings meaning we might have to limit participants and stagger entry times, rather than compromise on the core aspect of B.Y.O.A.A.S. I instead looked at ways we could potentially capture the essence of the show albeit in a mostly virtual format.
So through conversation with a couple of participating artists, the concept of B.Y.O.A.A.S. TV was born – a virtual multi-room exhibition that would be streamed simultaneously in Lucky’s, Hens Teeth and online.
The plan was to ask people to submit their work a few days before the show, then by using 3D rendered walls representative of Luckys and Hens Teeth, we would emulate the real-life show by panning across the placed artworks.
There was a turnaround of 4 weeks and implementation was down to myself. I could handle a lot of the production as I had experience with animating sequences and film editing. I enlisted Jonathon Theobald to render the 3D wall spaces for Lucky’s and Hen’s Teeth. Jonathan also did our featured poster artwork (sound on!).
Once I figured out my production process and produced a test video, I put together a prototype of how the exhibition space could work online
Everyone was happy with the concept direction and implementation and so I pushed ahead getting the website up and running
I had also approached Irish media company Micromedia to see if they would be interested in streaming B.Y.O.A.A.S. TV in some capacity, and they offered us use of a mobile screen unit plus some screen-time on public screens which was brilliant as it would really help enhance the offline element of the show.
B.Y.O.A.A.S. TV FORMAT
The work of X number of artists would be shown across 3 virtual rooms – Lucky’s Bar Room, Hen’s Teeth Room and the Motion Room.
These three rooms would be YouTube hosted videos available to view on byoaasdub.com from 7pm on Friday 10th Sept
The three room videos would be consolidated and shown on the screens in Lucky’s and in the window of and outside Hens Teeth on a mobile unit from Micromedia
All of the venue screens would have retro-styled TV frames fitted around them with the framed viewport cropped to 4:3. The mobile unit would have a portrait 16:9 format
Tent-cards would be placed in each venue with QR codes on them linking directly to artist listings on the website.
Each TV frame had an integrated QR code that went to byoaasdub.com
By the 10pm deadline on Monday evening, I had 80+ artists for the show which was an ideal number for turnaround time vs video length.
Everything went fairly smoothly production wise, it was just a matter of getting through the significant to-do list.
Ahead of producing the videos I had drafted in a friend to sort and rename all artworks including putting the artist listing number at the front – a basic thing but it really expidited the production process (and preserved my 2am sanity!).
The day of the show was taken up with final video editing, pickups from the printers, getting the website ready and doing some final social media promo.
In the week leading up we reached out to participating artists offering them tables for the screenings and these were snapped up which meant we’d have a ready-engaged crowd in place.
All of the screen treatments were installed and at 18:58 the videos in Luckys and outside Hens Teeth started streaming with a 2-minute countdown to the show content.
With the website I endeavoured to keep it as simple as possible using mostly familiar functionalities.
The different ‘rooms’ were individual pages I arranged in a format to allow for toggling between – The timeframe I was working in didn’t allow for much usability testing, however I did send out the exhibition page to various people ahead of the show and no major issues were raised (although there are definitely some usability issues there!).
The show streamed at 7pm on the Friday evening and according to John it was the first time Lucky’s was buzzing since lockdown happened.
There was also a lot of Instagram activity with people sharing pictures and videos of them watching the show (often with added crowd-cheers!).
As I was floating between venues where people were asked to remain seated due to covid rules, I didn’t have the usual immediate feedback with artists. So I sent out follow up emails to see how they found the show and I received some lovely responses. (Granted when you are promoting people genuinely for free, people are probably less forthcoming with negative feedback!)
Overall B.Y.O.A.A.S. TV was a lot of fun to put together, went down well with the people and gave me a chance to refresh some of my production skills.
As a side project it was a lot to turnaround in 4 weeks and the videos themselves could really have done with more work, however the final execution went well enough (except for buggy embedded artist listings) and everyone seemed happy – Result!
Once we’re back doing the real-life show, embedding videos of the actual walls would be a great way to continue the online aspect, as would incorporating a social feed page to tie-in that channel.
The website UX needs improvement in particular the exhibition aspect as navigating between the different rooms has usability issues. So some proper testing and further development would do well there.