The Performance Art Portfolio
I've reached a rather comfortable segment of my life in which I can afford to stop, take notice of, and investigate the things that I find interesting. It's not really a waste of time, because every distracted investigation leads to making a new friend or a new destination on my "restaurants-to-visit" bucket list. Today, as I was driving home from Georgia Tech, I noticed a woman painting a picture of the cityscape from the I-75 overpass on North Avenue. Unlike the other people who felt a strong, visceral reaction, I didn't honk at her OR start shouting at her. I parked my car at the gas station just past the bridge, walked back to her, and introduced myself. Instagram user @daisyydoodles was a polite, kind, happy artist choosing to work on one of her commissioned pieces on public property in the beautiful - if quite warm - Atlanta sun, rather than working off of reference photos as she normally does. And everyone was enthralled.
While she and I met and exchanged pleasantries - over a total of about 5 minutes - we were honked at by at least 6 separate cars. A woman yelled, "Your work is beautiful!" The college student who walked past us stopped to take a picture, and, dizzyingly, I turned around to see essentially everyone stuck in the midday Atlanta traffic staring at us. Just by taking her work from the privacy of the studio to this sunny overpass, she managed to captivate the restless eye of downtown lunch hour Atlanta. It was startling, but it made perfect sense.
I had a similar scenario happen when my friend Alex and I were shooting for one of my portfolio pieces, the Galaxy Sloth Skatewear. The above photo was literally taken 2 feet away from where she was painting. During the photoshoot, people were honking at us, laughing at us, taking photos of us, and pointing us out to their friends in the car. I'm reasonably sure that we ended up on Atlanta's snap story that evening, as I'm sure the artist today has as well.
For creatives, documenting your work is just another part of the job. Nowadays, documentation is done online through multiple media - Instagram, Facebook, Behance, personal websites, etc. It's how you get work, contacts, and new friends. Too often, though, the importance of showing the finished product is overstated. To non-creatives, it's just another image in their feed. Unless your work is particularly captivating or dramatically framed, internet viewers aren't going to see your work and see what makes you special. They won't see the process. They aren't going to care enough to pay attention. But it turns out there's a secret way to enhance your portfolio - one that's been an option since man first put pen to paper. It turns out that if you aren't afraid of the oppressive sun or of standing out from the crowd, you can demonstrate your talents in Real Time™ via a Live™ broadcast that is powerful enough to get nearly ubiquitous viewer engagement.
If you can, take your next project outside. You never know who you might inspire.