During the creation of the first interactive program for The Eureka Room, Hi 5, I didn’t have all the final images collected. So I created a placeholder.
I quickly drew a bird in Paintbrush (the Mac equivalent of Microsoft Paint).
Pixelated, erratic, and showing off my complete lack of drawing ability, it looked like shit.
I kept it in the program as I was testing. Why find a real drawing just yet if it turns out that visitors don’t even want a bird in the program?
I was surprised when people thought the shitty stand-in bird was the highlight of the program. It was unintentionally funny and created a surprising disconnect between the high tech-ness of the room and the very low techness of the art. (I also wonder if tech reproducing the natural world horribly resonates as humorous in some way).
I showed the program to about 500 visitors during The East Austin Studio tour and people loved it. People asked if I had t-shirts or stickers with the bird on them. (I did not).
My lessons/reminders from this experience:
1) Weaknesses can become strengths.
2) People don’t care about you looking “professional”. They care about how they feel.
3) Test it before it is ready.
4) I should make some t-shirts and stickers.
Due to the popularity of the bird (and the ease at which I can make shitty drawings), that “look” of the bird has become very much a part of many of The Eureka Room programs, as well as the overall feel: Clean Tech + Shitty Drawings.
Dear Me: What are you trying to perfect that you should be showing or shipping instead?
Note: I didn’t want to give a spoiler here by showing you the bird. But if you’ve seen Allie Brosch’s excellent Hyperbole and a Half, you’ll have some idea. While the Eureka Room art was not influenced by her work, it does have a similar erratic look and manic feel. If you have enjoyed the Hi 5 program in person I highly recommend her books.