Last month I started a collaborative project called The Lightbulb Project. Essentially it is a weekly themed photography that challenges artists from around the world to create an image that is inspired by a theme that I send out each friday. Very quickly the facebook group became the hub for the project and it grew to be one of the most inclusive and supportive artistic communities I’ve been a part of. Within a few weeks of the project, artists were sharing their struggles, their fears, their successes and above all supporting each one of the other artists in the group. Each time an image is posted, it is welcomed with support, encouragement and if asked for, constructive feedback. In almost two months of the project there have been 900 posts and over 50,000 comments and reactions. Needless to say it’s an actively creative group.
Earlier this month I decided to push the project even further and when I delivered the theme I added an extra challenge, to find someone else within the group to collaborate with. I fully expected people to skip the week, to ignore the challenge or to drop out completely. Artists tend to be solitary beings and the idea of working with someone you don’t know in real life can be daunting. But I was wrong. Not only did people particpate, but they created images that were absolutely incredible and some of my favourite of the entire project.
Often times the internet can be painted with a very negative brush (which is fair, there are some really nasty places out there) and before I started the Lightbulb Project I’d have to leave several photography groups on Facebook as I found them to be places where instead of celebrating the art form, it was just a platorm to make fun of people and where they were on their journey. I fully believe that art isn’t a sport, that we aren’t in competition with one another as we each have a very distinct story and vision if allowed to express it without fear. So I created the project with the idea that anyone, regardless of experience or skill or medium could join in. The “connection” week truly showed me what can happen when you support cooperation and collaboration within a community. Here’s some of the images and stories from the challenge, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Regan Nishikawa (USA) & Nix Aislinn (Australia)
“I just wanted to share how amazing I think it is that two people in different parts of the world can collaborate to create one piece of art.” – Regan
“Can i just say that Regan is the best, he partially buried himself on my request without knowing what the final result would be (it was also cold and wet the day he did it so biggest props to him, he’s awesome!)
The earth is what we all have in common. We are all connected in some way or another. ”
Jairo Ortega Soto and Noelia Geijo Vegas (Spain)
“This is my pic for the 7th week in collaboration with Jairo. The main idea is from him and all the pictures used in this photo. We made the edit together. Hope you like it!”
Bára Skácelíková, Carmen Vazquez, Sarah Sabo , Jeanett Flynn, Alexandria Yanciw, Stacey Trujillo, Katherin Santamaria, Lisa Adams
“My first connection work was about recreating my old painting by nine different people while they knew just their small part of it! I had really nice conversations with all of them and even some of them were quite unsure about their skills they somehow managed and pushed themselves and it looks so beautiful and united! Someone had to leave this collab but just because someone in their close area needed true connection and I think thats the most important thing”
Kim Ottenbrite (Canada) & Sharon Covert (United States)
“I stepped way out of my comfort zone and approached Sharon … I’ve admired her and her work for a long time but honestly felt she wouldn’t even consider me for collaboration. i was wrong … I sent her my mind map and she honed in on the animal connection. Sharon created her self portrait, then i shot a variety of images of Lenny. once his image was chosen I composited him into Sharon’s portrait and returned the image to her for her signature black & white conversion. Once that was done the title was really self-evident. We have even talked about some future collaborations. I absolutely loved being pushed and working with someone whom I didnt “know personally” at the start” – Kim
Sandy Taylor (USA) & Martina Vrananova (Slovakia)
This was such an amazing experience to do. I have never ever before do a colaboration with somebody. I can say that it was interesting how I (a student in youth ages) have the same ideas and visions as this amazing woman.
This picture shows how all the connections are build- by listening (just what the title says). The world in the back might be a symbol
that no matter where you are, you can still make a connection with somebody. – Martina
Paul Barson (USA) & Rhochelle Palma (Mexico)
“One of the things that we both liked about this project as a whole is that it would help to push us to do new things, away from our normal comfort zones, thereby learning new skills and techniques and expanding our skill sets. Working with Rhochelle and her skills as a photographer and artist was a privilege and lot of fun. Being a ‘LR only’ guy, it was also great to use PS more and learn some new things along the way.We both worked on processing the the final piece, sending it back and forwards to each other” – Paul
Russ Dixon (New Zealand) & Sybille Sterk (UK)
“Collaboration between my self and Sybille Sterk a fellow Arcangel Photographer. We supplied each other with several shots of our left or right arm to be used with our own to create an image.
This took my brain all over the place from HR Gieger (which didnt work) through to Terminator, a political battle between Trump and Kim Jong and then around to Blade Runner, which I think is where it ended. It was always going to be based on Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel” – Russ
Jayde Eastman (Japan) & Martin Pospíšil (Czech Republic)
“I connected with Martin Pospíšil! I am from the US, currently living in Japan, and he is from the Czech Republic! Working with different time zones was definitely a challenge! It was fun getting to know him briefly over Facebook. I was editing the image on my laptop and I frequently sent him an image update and he would give me advice on what he thought could make the image better which was awesome because he definitely pushed me to create a better image than I would have originally.” – Jayde
Debbie Sinclair (Canada) & Kristina Kashtanova (USA)
“Kristina Kashtanova and I collaborated on this image for the connection theme.We believe the light within each of us guides us to people and circumstances beneficial to us.It is this light that is referred to in the following Irish blessing, now used in Kundalini yoga blessings and our blessing we share with each of you:
“May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you.
And the pure light within you guide your way on. ” – Debbie
A collection of amazing images also submitted:
And some great quotes about the challenge:
“Challenge… I have never really considered collaboration. Naturally an introvert, doubting my own ability, feeling safer in my own little bubble. I initially responded to Lys Olson then panic set in & I deleted it! How mad was I to think she would want to connect with a total novice? How wrong was I because she did connect & after several messages over a 7 hour time difference we developed our thoughts. Lys did the lion share on an idea that we grew together and I learnt about different editing apps. I may evolve from a ‘show it as I see it’ to a novice editing monster as the weeks progress.. but I love it! I never realised I could feel so connected, so quickly, to someone. I also loved contributing to other creative projects including Martins faces in strips, Bára’s amazing collaborative art work and Laurence’s eagerly awaited creation. So am I an introvert maybe this week has made me start to question this, perhaps next time I will think ‘yes, can’t wait’ rather than ‘nooo’ and panic.” – Jenny Snelson
“I don’t have an image to share as I was only a small piece of someone else’s project. But I must tell you… when I first saw the challenge my stomach did a flip flop. I am an introvert with a capital I. INTROVERT. So to be honest I groaned. BUT what a wonderful challenge. This is such a warm inviting group, and it was amazing to suck it up and decide to participate. Will I still be a big introvert tomorrow? YES! But did I get to the point of loving being brought out of my shell in such a wonderful way? YES YES YES. It would not happen without this group and your inspiration Joel.” – Jeanett Flynn
For me, what this project and this challenge specifically, is that art is truly a way to connect people from all backgrounds, it connects us across oceans and barriers and if you give people the chance, they’ll create beautiful work regardless of time zone, experience levels, or stereotypes. I’m so proud of all the artists in the project and I’m so humbled they trusted this theme!