Designing for the Individual

Something that constantly boggles my mind when it comes to creating artwork, any type, is: “how do I reach as many people as possible.” This is constantly on my mind when I think of potential rabbit holes. “What if only one person finds this?” This is something that I often try to escape as an artist, and there was one part of the interview with Felix Barrett that really spoke out to me.

He states that one of his favorite shows was when there were only about four people present. He goes on to share how it was every intimate experience that could not have been as successful on a larger scale. He segues into how he believes that an experience that can only be captured by an individual is very sacred in a time of mass media. I think there’s also another implication here that wasn’t necessarily mentioned.

I’m more talking to myself here, and it may seem obvious. If your experience cannot be special to the individual, then it cannot be special to the mass. If you start out thinking about how to appease the masses, then you may lose sight of the special individual experience. I believe this has to be genuine as well, and this goes along with some of the philosophical readings we have had throughout the quarter. If you try to design for the individual, with the goal of designing for the masses, then you cannot fully accomplish your purpose.

This comes at an unfortunate, but what I see as worthwhile, trade-off for the artist. Your work may not be seen by as many people as possible, but it will be experienced by the few that it does. Of course, this is unless you have a team of people behind you. If that’s the case, leave the marketing to the marketers, and keep the art to the artists.

One thought on “Designing for the Individual

  1. Whenever I hear about people describing smaller performances, I think the biggest thing that people love about it is – get ready for this key word – “intimacy.” In that idea and feeling of intimacy is the affect of being special, as you are one of a few who get to see something. The value of intimacy in art is definitely really interesting. There seems to be a dichotomy created by intimacy that you hinted to: either the artist feels special by being able to appeal to a large crowd or the viewer feels special by being part of a seemingly elite few who know about an art-piece. I’m usually pretty skeptical of dichotomies, so I started wondering if it’s possible to create a sense of intimacy despite being able to reach a large audience. Is it possible to bypass the knowledge of being one in many? I think it’s possible with video games that are single player or – even better – multi player. In the former, a sense of a unique experience can be created by the combination of a sense of immersion and perhaps a game system that allows for unique experiences to occur. Maybe that unique experience is the ability to find easter eggs or maybe its something more advanced like a game system that creates new environments or scenes depending on a combination of previous choices. I think though, it’s easier and more common to achieve the sense of unique experience and intimacy with multi player games like jackbox games, where the format allows for creative contributions from the players. No experience will be like the last, creating that sense that the experience was unique, intimate, and ephemeral.

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