Take Over Canopy

Mobile crowdfunding web app concept

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Overview of a Takeover

Problem: Attendees of East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) find most art pieces to be priced outside of their budget. This affects artists’ sales, artist retention, and stakeholders’ fundraising efforts.

Solution: A web-based fundraising app with funds going directly to official EAST artists will allow users to show support at price points that work for them. Users are further incentivized to donate with the chance to include a selfie in a large-scale installation.

Duration: Three-week design sprint.

Role: Research lead, synthesis, ideation, wireframing, high fidelity prototyping.

Tools: Sketch and InVision, Zoom, Trello, Google Suite.

Take Over Canopy Screens

Research

Getting to Know Our Stakeholder

East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) is an annual, self-guided tour in which participating East Austin artists open their galleries to the public. It’s an opportunity for Austinites to connect with local artists and for Big Medium, who puts on the event, to raise funds and awareness for its year-round support of Austin contemporary art. 

Research Methods

Our initial research consisted of 12 interviews, competitive and feature analyses and contextual inquiry. This allowed us to get a sense of the space in which much of EAST’s activity occurs. 

Shot of Canopy from our contextual inquiry

Shot of Canopy from our contextual inquiry

Findings

We found that both artists and attendees thought of EAST as more of a community event than an opportunity for art sales or acquisition. There was a sense of excitement about interactive art exhibits on the part of both artists and attendees. 

Many attendees felt that most art pieces were priced beyond what they could afford. Even so, they would support artists they admired when they could afford to do so. Many artists felt that EAST was more of a demonstration of solidarity with the art community than a chance to promote themselves as individual artists.

There was also a sense among artists that Austin doesn’t have the strong gallery culture and serious art scenes of other cities like Dallas or New York. 

Me and Christine affinitizing

Me and Christine affinitizing

Creating a Persona

From several proto-personas, we developed a more nuanced primary persona grounded in our research. After two days of ideation, we decided a fundraising app that involved an interactive aspect would meet our main design goals: 

  • Give EAST attendees a way to support artists at a comfortable price point. 
  • Help artists feel their investment in EAST can be recouped. 
  • Appeal to interest in interactive exhibits. 
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Our Solution

We saw that by providing artists with this extra income, artists would be more likely to continue participating in EAST, which supports the fundraising goals of our primary stakeholder. If our app helps retain and and attract more EAST artists, more artists pay the application fee to participate, and therefore Big Medium is better able to support contemporary art in Austin throughout the year.

Wireframing as a Team
Wireframing as a Team

Early on we decided that the art installation would take place at Canopy, because it acts as a central hub of EAST and already enjoys a lot of foot traffic. Our first user tests showed us that our home page was too diffuse, so we eliminated everything and built out a solid donation flow to ensure we had nailed the foundation of our app before expanding on it.

Early Wireframes
Early Wireframes

When pitching the concept, our colleagues noted that our project might be better served by associating a big name and more tangible art piece with the art installation in place of the amorphous mural concept we’d been working with thus far. It was our hope that by including JR, who works with large-scale portraits plastered on public spaces, our users would have a more tangible idea of the intended outcome of the project. We also felt that including an international artist would draw attention to the project and help elevate EAST from local art tour to a widely-recognized art festival.

lo fi prototype

This update also made necessary the addition of the selfie camera at the end of our donation flow. After donating, users unlock the option to submit a selfie through the app that would be included in JR’s installation piece. In that way, with a simple web app, we’re providing artists with a supplemental revenue stream, giving EAST attendees the chance to support EAST artists at price points that work for them, and helping to ensure Big Medium meets its goals for this festival. With Take Over Canopy, the faces of the community members that are supporting artists will be plastered to this central hub of Austin art, inspiring artists and art enthusiasts alike.

Image of JR's Inside Out NYC Courtesy of https://www.jr-art.net/
Image of JR’s Inside Out NYC Courtesy of https://www.jr-art.net/

Next Steps and Considerations

To turn this into a real project, we’d need to work with Big Medium to create a pitch to JR about being a part of this project. Though a lot of the core values of Take Over Canopy align with those of JR and his work, I think it would be a fun challenge to show JR how this project would benefit him. 

Building out the service design and artist portal would be top of the list once Big Medium and JR were on board. How are artists going to collect their donations? How will we handle the distribution of swag? Will the necessity of a camera mean this is a native app and how will that change our designs? These are the questions I’d use as guidance when giving this project more time. 

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