How do you create a literal interpretation of the words Step Away from the Screen? Pointillism! Lots of dots of different colors which, when viewed from a distance (i.e., you have to step away from the canvas), blend together to form a picture. I would create the base art and overlay letters that corresponded to sticker dots of different colors. B = blue. R = red. G = green, etc. Conference attendees would place stickers on the letters and by the time Alt was over, we will have created a picture. A giant, pointillist
paint-by-number sticker-by-letter picture.
I wanted the finished piece to be visually appealing and representative of the message of Step Away from the Screen. (The art also had to be simple enough that it could be rendered in 1” dots, which would give it an almost pixelated look.) Step away from the screen and make something implies making things with your hands, so I designed around that. Plus lots of color!
The last step was to overlay the letters in such a way that when you looked at the blank wall, you couldn’t tell what the final art was going to be. This turned out to be the most complicated part of the process and not one that could be automatically generated without some complex coding. So I ended up doing it in Adobe InDesign by manually typing the letters in a text box layered on top of the base art.
The art (white with black letters) was output on 4’x8′ vinyl sheets and adhered to 3 wood panels. The final piece ended up being 8′ high and 12′ wide with almost 30,000 stickers!
I had no idea, going in, how the whole thing would play out, but I was blown away by the positive response. Whether it was to take a break from the high energy conference, or just to recharge and be creative for a few minutes, everyone really enjoyed sticking stickers, as well as the byproducts of hanging out at the sticker wall. More than a few times I saw two people reach over and shake hands, and then keep talking while they stuck stickers. Other folks reported therapeutic effects from “mindless stickering.” And still others (myself included) found that the wall fed their, shall we say, OCD tendencies.
By day two, there was an intensity among some people who couldn’t wait to get it finished, which was great fun to watch. People would take on a whole color section and just park themselves there til that section was complete. When we finally stuck the last sticker on, at around 2pm, the whole room burst into applause!