Role: UX Designer
Mobile App to help emerging artists with jobs and opportunities around them through collaborations.
Collab.Art helps to empower artists to develop and cultivate patron relationships independently by providing them with collaboration opportunities around them.
The app would help artists to network, and grow their skills via networking and working with others on relevant projects which can eventually help with their career development following creative placemaking.
The service aims to list and share the projects for collaborating with artists in any creative pursuit, from professionals to self-made. The projects can be listed by anyone, a curator, a peer artist, a novice in the field or someone in need of help for a projects. Major features include: finding collaboration projects, connecting with people and scheduling project milestones.
DOUBLE DIAMOND DESIGN
The following case study follows the classic "double diamond" product design process. Diverging and converging in both research phrase and product design phrase.
1.0 DESIGNING THE RIGHT THING
This chapter covers the following
1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT
I have always been fascinated by creativity and art. As a self taught artist myself, I always wondered how someone interested in art, or starting out a career in similar creative pursuits sustain themselves financially. I wanted to understand how a career looks like for someone who is starting their career in a creative field. My motivation to help traditional handicrafts artists in my home country struggling with their financial situations led me to explore on the problems and needs of emerging artists.
In my background research I found that art is a cornerstone of moneyed society, with pieces regularly selling for millions of dollars. But most artists rarely see any of this bounty, making it harder for them to sustain.
The problem is more dire for emerging artists as most of the artists struggle to sustain their livelihood relying on art as their sole source of income and sort to multiple jobs, most of which are outside the arts. Owing to these findings, I defined my problem statement.
Kochi Art Festival - 2018
How might we help artists with financial stability and career development?
1.2 PRIMARY RESEARCH
The major needs of the emerging artists according to a literature survey that I conducted are summarised as follows:
1. Career development opportunities
3. Networking and Marketing
4. Enhanced ambition and motivation
5. Tangible and Emotional support
What do the career or career development of artists look like?
Creative pursuits were learned with collaboration and social interactions.
“I learned it all through my mother and aunt..”
“Got inspiration from a friend, Did a small course later to learn about different tools”
“I learn with my team. We build stuff together”
“I joined a painting group in my city, soon after I got hooked and started exploring my career as an artist.”
Inspiration and publicity is heavily dependent on social media and is a source of new learnings.
“Usually through instagram and facebook groups. Just take inspiration from different styles”
“Search a website for designs and styles..Also am a
part of a facebook group of common friends who are into this..”
“I discovered my pattern style in early college days, I get inspired from similar artists using online platforms like SaatchiArt”
Career development is the satisfaction to be able to create and sell. Most use social media platforms, and some get an opportunity to have exhibitions.
“My friend sells it through the Facebook group I mentioned..by increasing her network”
“Want to create and brand myself, because I see people on instagram merchandising the designs and selling. Don’t know how. Have not explored it yet.”
“I have set up exhibitions with my savings and that was the biggest achievement. But it takes a lot of time and resources. I publicised them through fb.”
Meetups and offline ways are effective to learn and share new skills, also to grow businesses
“Taken workshops for students, It was pretty hard but I could do it.”
“Have taught my friends, I shared my tools with them. Have an Instagram page where I occasionally get orders”
“We take workshops for kids, we point them to resources such as books, videos and websites for knitting. I helps us build a community and increase our sales through networks”
“Have not taught anyone as such...I post my work online and people ask me there”
Based on the interviews, I created multiple personas and anti-personas with different needs to suit my user population based on my literature review and interviews. They encompassed the needs of real users memorable for the product team, helping to focus efforts and build empathy most importantly a way to define my discovery.
How do other platforms target these needs? What are the different ways they support the artists?
1.4 COMPETETIVE ANALYSIS
After focusing on empowerment of artists, for their financial sustainability and career. I did a competitive analysis with some existing platforms which help artists with financial support and career development.
I explored different platforms that currently help sustain the artists careers from online art galleries to e-commerce and peer learning platforms.
I realised that I needed to strike a balance between the financial sustainability and career development for emerging artists.
2.0 DESIGNING THE THING RIGHT
This chapter covers the following
Sketching / Storyboarding
Design Strategies and Feature QOC
Brainstorming and Design Critique
I Sketched the crazy 8'z to ideate on solutions for the identified problem. I designed the prospective ways to help emerging artists with financial support and career development.
How can we Ideate on solutions using different technologies and mediums to support connections and tangible gains?
2.2 TESTING IDEAS WITH FOUR USERS
Most of the ideas from the sketches, did not appeal to the participants as they were using one or the other platforms to learn their creative arts, or sell their artworks. The problem that I found was, three of the four participants had not worked with a professional agency and they were apprehensive to start as they did not think their work was worth to go to big platforms such as Saatchi Art, or to showcase online.
This made me realise that the problem was not lack of websites, but the lack of confidence.
One more thing that popped out in the tests was how these artists were depended on their peers when starting out. Majority of participants related with skill development and financial support through the community, artists, and collaborators in the art industry around them. This helped them learn and understand skills better and also helped to sustain themselves financially.
This was another "aha" moment, when I realised that the emerging artists wanted mutual support and looked for opportunities that did not demand exceptional skills.
"..having a connection with the art community which builds support can act as a safe place for me to experiment, find mentors and peers, or even employers.."
2.3 PRODUCT OPPORTUNITIES
I brainstormed on the following product opportunities to identify major features of the application and discovered that connecting artists with others based on interests can help connections to stay relevant and possibly convert to potential paid partnerships in the future.
Finding relevant projects around artists via accurate interest matching.
Getting financial incentives either by collaborating in a project or selling the creative works.
This will help in their financial stability
This will also help in generating entrepreneurial opportunities.
Facilitate skill learning by peers.
This will help in skill development via skill sharing.
This can also inspire and motivate users for skill advancement.
Connect and/or collaborate with peers and curators
This will help build a network, and provide entrepreneurial opportunities.
This will also help the users get inspiration, ideate and build confidence for employment in the field.
Facilitate communication with peers
This helps in community building and networking for stable access to opportunities.
Career or work showcase for emerging artists, such as a portfolio.
How do I keep the connections between artists relevant and ensure continued relationship building?
2.4 DESIGN STRATEGIES
I chose a mobile platform because I wanted to focus on networking and project planning both of which can happen efficiently via a mobile device.
An application targeted on collaborative working, targeting skill sharing, and generating ways to freelance with people as a source of side income.
Target User Roles
Theoretically, users on this platforms can take two roles:
[A] Looking for skilled people to collaborate with for their work.
[B] Looking for freelance, collaborative work, or a platform to improve their skills, network or earn a side income.
QOC Analysis and Wireframes
QOC (Questions-Options-Criteria) Analysis was a great way to decide the interactions for the most important application features.
Following are some examples focusing on features like project listings and project applications.
2.5 DESIGN CRITIQUE
I met with my class discussion group to get feedback on my solution and user flows through a small design critique session.
The design critiques helped me identify potential flaws of some features and helped me constrain my solution scope to only collaborations.
Letting the users (artists) have the flexibility to choose projects and the collaborators to have power to hire based on requirements.
2.6 PAPER PROTOTYPES
I tested the paper prototypes with 3 emerging artists as my potential users to get quick feedback on the interaction flows The three participants comprised of two art students from the university and one artist in Ann Arbor.
The suggested changes from the feedback were incorporated in the final digital prototypes.
Three usability tests using quick inexpensive paper prototypes.
2.7 FINAL DESIGNS
1. Logo: Liquid gradient of pink and blue paints, implying a collaboration between artists.
2. Colour Scheme: Purple as the primary colour which is associated with power and ambition. Analogous blue as the secondary colour to highlight links etc.
3. Design Style: Google Material Design Guidelines to decide on the colours and typography for accessibility and to create a tactile experience with a bold and vibrant aesthetic.
Free space Guide
Google Material Design was chosen as the design system to create compelling user experience extremely quickly (finished design within a week)
1. Collaboration Projects:
Defence: Mutual support and interest based connections, as pointed out in the research were the reasons to list projects according to the interests of the users. Since most of my users were offline creatives, I kept location as also a factor.
Defence: Confidence and insecurity, as pointed out in the research, led me to create this feature to keep the connections conversational and pushing the users to collaborate by reinforcing it via chats.
Defence: Since I wanted to design for artists in emerging stage of their career. Having a profile could potentially double as their portfolio and the number of collaborations can be a way to gauge their experience for someone looking at their profile.
Having recommendations will increase acceptances too.
I prototyped the interactions on Adobe XD. Play with the interactive prototype here!
My personal design philosophy has always been to create and contribute my design skills through various channels passionately by creating personalised work for the clients. This interaction design project, gave me an opportunity to reverse the role and focus on my own personal interests. Being a budding artist myself, I have met and interacted with a lot of creative people and have always wondered about the future of artists in this growing age of technological advancements. The societal norms I intended to promote was to keep the spirit and flame of art and culture alive in the future generations and I wanted to help the artists who are responsible for it.
Here’s a picture of me, presenting my project in the final course discussion!