How to Make Yourself Into A Commissioning Body in 5 Easy Steps

Workshop to help artists through common blockages and offer solutions that can be automated or commissioned through the sharing economy. Facilitated by art collective Anxious to Make. Commissioned by Transmediale, Berlin, DE

PROBLEM

How can we use the sharing economy as a resource for developing new forms of critical art practice – as a space for performance, production, collaboration or resistance?

SCOPE

The art collective, Anxious to Make, is taking artistic entrepreneurship to the next level. From existential anxiety to art market worthy end product, Anxious to Make proposes that by outsourcing all of the facets of artistic practice (and life) to gig workers and algorithms, anyone can make themselves into a creative enterprise and achieve the neoliberal dream.

Working under the umbrella of Anxious to Make, our team developed a workshop and methodology – along with a series of online generators, commissioned performances, interactive quizzes, and an analog algorithm, made literally out of paper – to walk artists through common blockages and offer solutions that can be commissioned through the sharing economy, gesturing toward an endless productive duplication.

ROLE

UX Researcher, Content Strategist, Artist, Visual Designer, Front-End Developer, Workshop Facilitator

Team comprised of one other person, Liat Berdugo, who focused on research, algorithmic design, screenwriting*, video production, P5.js development**, and publication design. Together we designed, structured and facilitated the workshop.

Me and Liat standing in front of our wall of post-its

Team = Me + Liat Berdugo, aka Anxious to Make

PROCESS

I. User Research

Our team first set out to interview artists and creative professionals to learn about the anxieties and pain points they face in their professional art practices.

Skype interview

Skype interview with artist, Andrea Steves (Museum of Capitalism)

We synthesized information and insights from 20 contextual interviews to develop personas, which we used to guide our design process moving forward.

II. Analog Algorithm Design Sprint

Next, we set out to design the algorithm for the workbook.

Wall of post-it notes

One problem or user task per sheet

Wall of post-it notes

Yellow Post-its for generators or bots

Wall of post-it notes

Blue Post-its for commissions

Wall of post-it notes

Grey Post-its for possible solutions

Wall of post-it notes

Final challenge

algorithm logic chart

Resulting logic chart

III. Prototyping Digital Solutions

side by side laptops

Making generators + logics

Some of the questions, or anxieties, lead to solutions in the form of online generators, or bots, that help artists outsource and automate many tasks, from coming up with a project idea to finding new channels for distribution of artworks.

Examples include a Project Generator, a Brand Generator, a Publicity Generator, a New ID Generator, a More Important Art Generator, and a Mug/Rug Generator:

Project Generator

ANXIETY: Are you having trouble coming up with an idea?

SOLUTION: The Project Generator generates thousands of different project permutations from a matrix of topics, materials, qualities, and sharing economy resources through which production can be outsourced.

Project Generator

Project Generator

Brand Generator

ANXIETY: Do you see yourself as both an artist and “brand” that distributes your work?

SOLUTION: The Brand Generator generates an explosion of random falling branded objects. Clicking on any object will open up a new window, where users can order a customized version of that product to promote their own brand identity.

Brand Generator

Brand Generator

Publicity Generator

ANXIETY: Do you need additional help or resources for PR and/or distribution?

SOLUTION: The Publicity Generator** cycles through a series of Fiverr gigs suitable for generating PR and setting up new distribution channels. When you see one you like, click on the banana to commission your own.

Publicity Generator

Publicity Generator

New ID Generator

ANXIETY: Are you trying to work with difficult subjects that require a certain degree of sensitivity or anonymity? How attached are you to your identity?

SOLUTION: The New ID Generator is a curated list of resources for outsourcing new identity creation.

New ID Generator

New ID Generator

More Important Art Generator

ANXIETY: Do you feel that your art practice gets at, or speaks to, the things in life that are most important to you?

SOLUTION: The More Important Art Generator is like the Project Generator, but for more important things.

More Important Art Generator

More Important Art Generator

Mug/Rug Generator

ANXIETY: Do you feel tongue-tied, or that the words come out wrong, whenever you try to describe your work to others? Do you often feel misunderstood?

SOLUTION: Never talk about your work again. Mug/Rug Generator lets you put your ideas on a mug or rug. Custom mug/rug can be ordered on Anxious to Make’s store.

Mug Rug Generator

Mug/Rug Generator

IV. Commissioning Performances*

For existential needs, some of the questions lead to more performative solutions. Not unlike therapy, these solutions have the added value of providing accountability, motivation, and moral support.

Performative Removal of a Creative Block

ANXIETY: Are you suffering from a creative block?

SOLUTION: Commission a performative removal of the creative block.

Performative Validation for Working with Unfamiliar Materials

ANXIETY: Are you working with unfamiliar materials?

SOLUTION: Commission a performative validation for working with unfamiliar materials.

Confidence Generator

ANXIETY: Are you having trouble executing an idea? Due to a fear of judgement, or “I’m not qualified.”

SOLUTION: The Confidence Generator**.

Tough Love Generator

ANXIETY: Are you struggling to find rigorous intellectual communities outside of institutions that value the social and critical functions of art?

SOLUTION: The Tough Love Generator**.

Performance to Externalize Distrust

ANXIETY: Do you have a growing sense of distrust in the systems that govern your life, career, community, nation, and/or planet?

SOLUTION: Commission a performace to externalize distrust.

V. The Workbook

workbook and scantron

PAPER ALGORITHM

workbook sample questions

ANXIETY

workbook sample solutions

SOLUTION

OUTCOME

The workshop debuted at Transmediale in 2016.

The 5 Easy Steps:

  1. Outsource your anxieties.
  2. Run the algorithm.
  3. Commission work.
  4. Wait until the sharing economy responds.
  5. Repeat.

piles of workbooks on top of a table

Piles of workbooks ready for commissioning bodies. Berlin, Germany

workshop participant with credit card

Participant ready to commission work. Berlin, Germany

SUCCESS METRICS

Special Issue: The Entreprecariat, Pervasive Labour Union zine #11, Institute of Network Cultures

nervous.online, The Wrong New Digital Art Biennale

Three Rituals for Removing Creative Blocks, The Concept Bank, Unnoticed Art Festival

TESTIMONIALS

“It’s like The 4-Hour Workweek, for artists.” –

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you to Transmediale for commissioning this workshop.

Thank you to This Will Take Time for giving us the time and space to develop this project.

CREDITS: ANXIOUS TO MAKE IS THE COLLABORATIVE PRACTICE OF LIAT BERDUGO + EMILY MARTINEZ