This week we're diving into the ways we can successfully engage community stakeholders through our work. Erin Guido, a Ticco member and Co-Founder of So Fun Studio, is doing just that in the Cleveland community and beyond. We interviewed Erin to get a look into her projects to-date and her perspective on why this work is important.
Ticco: How have you leveraged your design talent to create experiences that captivate local residents and the online community?
Erin Guido: I think my love of urban places, more than design talent, has led me to create artworks that engage with the community. I love exploring urban neighborhoods and coming across tiny surprises that make a place special. I like good architecture, well-designed public space, and active-feeling streets, but smaller things, like nice hand-painted signs, pretty gardens, detailed masonry work on bridges and buildings, kids’ sidewalk chalk scribbles, and street art and murals, are the things that make me feel more connected to other human beings.
I enjoy finding these types of tiny surprises so much that I began creating my own. I started by wheat-pasting (pasting paper on walls using a glue made of flour and water) nice notes, drawings, and simple shapes and patterns on the exterior walls of buildings. Wheat paste isn’t permanent, so it is fun and feels low-stakes. My small wheat-pasted artworks helped me find my artistic voice and start to share my artwork more publicly.
Eventually, wheat-pasting around town and sharing my artwork on social media connected me to the community, and I was asked to paint permanent murals for friends and local businesses. Instagram has been an amazing platform that allows me to connect to a broader audience and get commissions for additional projects.
T: What inspired you to start So Fun Studio and begin creating interactive experiences for residents?
EG: In the past, I mostly worked in a two-dimensional way, making prints, collages, paintings, and wheat-pasting or painting street art. Then I met John Paul Costello, a Cleveland-based artist, designer, and fabricator, and a whole world of artistic possibilities opened up! JP specializes in wood, metal, and fiberglass and has a modern design aesthetic that complements my not-very-exact, usually way-too-colorful style. He is really good at figuring out how to build large-scale functional sculpture with movable, kinetic pieces. Together, we founded So Fun Studio, an interactive design collaborative that aims to create joyful and lighthearted public art and products.
JP and I first collaborated when we participated in Please Touch, a show at the Akron Art Museum that “shook off all of the traditional museum-goer behavior” and asked visitors to use their sense of touch to experience the exhibition. We created artworks that were interactive in a physical way—visitors could actually move and change the art. It made us so happy to watch museum-goers have fun touching and playing with the artwork. After the show, we decided to start So Fun Studio to keep creating art that brings more wonder and imagination to everyday life.
I also work as a project manager at LAND studio, a nonprofit that creates public art and public spaces in Cleveland. I get a lot of inspiration from the local, national, and international artists that I am able to work with on all kinds of public art projects. When my job is to think about public art all day, I can’t help but take home some inspiration for my personal creative pursuits!
T: What project are you most proud to have worked on and why?
EG: I’m most proud of I Have Many, a 4’x35′ interactive billboard installed on a building rooftop at 78th Street Studios in Cleveland for the 2018 CAN Triennial, a curated contemporary art festival featuring artists from Northeast Ohio. From the ground, people could pull cords that were connected to one of four indexing gears to change the displayed words. There were 256 different versions of the artwork depending which combination of words in the sentence the user selects. While we had a lot of challenges (creating something that big is more complicated and takes a lot longer than you’d think, plus wooden gears behave differently outside with all the elements than when you build them in studio, haha) but I am really proud of our ambition and what we created. I want to pursue more projects like this that are site-specific but aren’t static. In general, I love street art and murals, but sometimes once you’ve seen something out in the public realm enough, you can almost forget it is there. I liked that I Have Many was always changing so there was always something new to look at.
I Have Many was an interactive public artwork that draws on So Fun Studio’s feelings of being overwhelmed (or not) by having so many things going on at the same time—plants, emotions, ideas, projects, emails, and on and on. Sometimes it makes us feel better when we tell others about whatever it is we’re having trouble with (or not having trouble with) by posting it on a rooftop billboard. The specific word selections in this artwork were chosen from So Fun Studio’s own experiences and stories we’ve heard about some of our friend’s experiences.
T: What’s something you’ve come to learn about yourself by doing your work?
EG: With all the heavy things going on in the world, sometimes I think a lot of us can forget to allow ourselves to be creative or silly. My art has become an outlet to try out ideas for the fun of it, rather than always having to have an important or serious reason. I’ve learned that making things because I enjoy it greatly decreases the stress in my life. I think all of us need more creativity and making. The world needs more moments of friendliness and joy!
T: What is a project or initiative you’re working on, or hope to kickstart in the near future?
EG: So Fun Studio is working on a series of mini wooden automata pieces that I’m really excited about! Automata is the art of creating kinetic wooden toys that usually work with the simple turn of a handle. If you are interested in some examples, check out one of our favorite automata artists, Kazuaki Harada. His work makes me laugh!
T: Where can our members find you on social?
EG: I’m @egweeds on instagram, So Fun Studio is @sofunstudio, Jp is @jpcfom, and LAND studio is @landstudio! Please say hi...I love collaborating and I’m looking forward to connecting with more Ticco members! 🙂
Interested in being featured or sharing your work with the Ticco community? Get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org!