009 : When Crisis Births Creativity with Ben Ostrower and Zachary Levine
History has shown that times of great crisis can be the birthing grounds for cultural breakthroughs. The same is true for COVID-19.
Hearkening back to the PSA poster art of WWII, Ben Ostrower and Zachary Levine conceived the idea to create a digital exhibition. They created a website called The Viral Art Project which invites designers and artists to create public service announcement posters as a way to put their creative juices to work, build awareness and community and ultimately inspire a generation.
In this week’s episode, Ben and Zachary sit with Steve Chaparro to share their inspiration, origin story, and their quest to bring designers and artists together during COVID-19. Ben is the founder and creative director at Eye Wide, a full-service digital agency. Zachary is a curator and the founder of Throughline Collaborative, an agency for artists and cultural organizations.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Ben and Zachary’s professional journeys.
- How COVID-19 revealed existing cultural challenges.
- How crisis creates opportunities to platform culture creation.
- How history has shown that crisis can be the birthing ground for cultural and scientific breakthroughs.
- The origin story of the Viral Art Project.
- How artists can submit their poster designs as part of the Viral Art Project.
- How artists have benefited from taking part in the project.
Resources Mentioned in this episode:
- Ben Ostrower on LinkedIn
- Ben Ostrower on Twitter
- Eye Wide Website
- Zachary Levine on LinkedIn
- Zachary Levine on Twitter
- Zachary Levine Website
- The Viral Art Project Website
- The Viral Art Project on Instagram
About the Guest:
Ben Ostrower is the Founder and Creative Director at Wide Eye – a full-service digital agency for purpose-driven organizations, visionaries and big thinkers. Zachary Levine is the Principal at Throughline Collaborative providing strategic planning, project leadership and curatorial guidance for artists and cultural organizations. Together, they are collaborating to bring the Viral Art Project to life.
Sponsor for this episode:
This episode is brought to you by the Culture Design Studio, a consulting firm that helps people and cultural leaders who feel constrained in their ability to engage their employees to become champions for their people through a series of facilitated workshops. They provide a practical and collaborative process to transform the culture within your creative organization.
Culture Design Studio has worked with organizations like Duarte Design, Design Thinkers Group, Red Bull, USAID, Bacardi, and the Office of Civic Innovation
If you’re looking for more than just a consultant and want someone who can facilitate your organization through a structured conversation to transform your culture, Culture Design Studio is the one for you.
Contact them today to learn more about what they can do for you and your company.
Full Transcript: Powered by Otter.ai
Announcer Welcome to The Culture Design show where we feature conversations with leaders and thinkers who are passionate about culture and design. Now let’s get started with the show.
Steve Chaparro Steve Chaparro, here. I am the host of The Culture Design Show. a podcast where I feature leaders and thinkers at some of the top creative firms in the world, including architecture, design, technology, and marketing. What’s the one thing they all have in common, they all believe in the power of culture, and design.
This podcast is brought to you by Culture Design Studio, we help people in culture leaders who feel constrained in their ability to engage their employees to become champions for their people. Through a series of facilitated workshops, we provide a practical and collaborative process to transform the culture within your creative organization. We’ve worked with organizations like Duarte Design, DesignThinkers Group, Red Bull, US AID, and the Office of Civic Innovation. So if you’re looking for more than just a consultant, but someone who can facilitate your organization through a structured conversation to transform your culture, reach out to us at culturedesignstudio.com.
Ben Ostrower is the founder and creative director at Wide Eye, a full-service digital agency for purpose driven organizations, visionaries and big thinkers. Zachary Levine is the principal at Througlineline Collaborative, providing strategic planning, project leadership and curatorial guidance for artists and cultural organizations. Together, they’re collaborating to bring the Viral Art Project to life. And that’s why we’re here today. Ben and Zachary, welcome to The Culture Design Show.
Ben Ostrower It’s good to be here.
Steve Chaparro Well, both of you. I mean, it’s an honor for me to chat with you about this project. But before we talk about the viral art project, I’d love to hear a little bit about each of your work. So Ben, maybe you can share with me a little bit about what you do at Wide Eye.
Ben Ostrower Sure. Um, so I am the founder and creative director of Wide Eye, or at least that’s a title I’ve given myself. We’ve been around for 10 years. We’re a creative agency that over the course last 10 years is mostly specialized in designing really beautiful websites for progressive organizations and campaigns. We’ve grown quite a bit last few years, tripling in size from what we were years ago. And we really now are a more general purpose creative agency, doing everything from Yes, website design and development with a really strong focus on user experience, branding, as well as digital strategy and social design. So and we’re we we love working with organizations that have a nonprofit purpose. S and a advocacy mission. That’s what keeps us getting up in the morning.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, I love that, you know, I’m finding more and more firms that are specializing not so much that, you know, there’s a red ocean of firms that are doing this type of work, but it’s very fulfilling, very satisfying to hear about firms that are very much purpose driven purpose forward in terms of the work and, and you kind of mentioned to me the other day, a little bit about how, how that sort of mission and purpose for you evolved. And I’m sure that wasn’t, that may or may not have always been your your focus. How did that evolve?
Ben Ostrower Well, I mean, I won’t give you the, the kind of very, very long story except to say that I started my career working. Having come out of a kind of liberal arts college, in the northeast, wanting to devote my career to arts and culture. And, you know, doing good as I saw it, and what started as a career in filmmaking, working for producing PBS documentaries eventually transitioned into doing digital work for filmmakers and folks starting fledgling nonprofits. A lot of the folks that I sort of found myself surrounded with when I first started my career that evolved over the course of years and years into a much bigger operation where there really being increased creative opportunity, but also business opportunity to work with folks who are on the front lines of starting two organizations, running for office, trying to turn arts and culture and activism and social justice into a something that that can play in the digital space. And that’s really why we exist and how we’ve kind of come up with over the years.
Steve Chaparro It seems to me that a lot of your work comes from wanting to build this grassroots following kind of answering this very purpose field call and building. You know, I’m sure there’s a strategic visionary perspective to these campaigns, but then it’s really building because of this grassroots following. Would that be accurate?
Ben Ostrower Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, the the tie that binds a lot of our work, whether we’re working with an organization like the ACLU or DRL, pro choice America or working with a presidential candidate like Kamala Harris, really all the tie that binds all of that is creating a movement digitally and reaching people where they are these days, which is online, inspiring people, but also doing the nuts and bolts work that’s required to do that fundraising, building email lists, and kind of a really strong membership base. So how do you achieve that? is a multifaceted thing. But we really believe that the creative backbone, and the messaging behind all of that communications is essential. And that’s really why we exist as a company and what we do.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, I love that word digital movements. I think that’s that’s a I mean, I can totally understand what that means. And I’ve never thought of it in that way. You know, I’ve heard some people say, digital evangelist in different contexts, digital movements. That’s, that’s pretty amazing. I love that thought. Zachary, I’d love to hear more about your work at through line. How did that kind of evolve over the years and, and what does that look like?
Zachary Levine Sure. Well, Throughline itself is a relatively new just founded, I can even say in 2020. But it’s an outgrowth of work that I’ve been doing independently for about 11 years. For a long time. I have a background in history, and museums. In fact, I refer to myself often As a recovering historian and a recovering curator, so I’ve been working in museums for quite a while and is starting out as a curator, and then most recently working at a national architecture Museum in Washington, DC. And focusing on both project management and collections and so on.
But on the side, I was curating a lot of exhibitions, history, exhibitions, but also working with increasingly a large number of artists to put together artistic, immersive artistic installations. The core that runs through all of this and it’s really why I found it through line the through line as it as such as it is, is that I work with these organizations and these people, these artists to use material culture and our to inspire people to think about the world differently, and I hope to provoke them to make the world a better place become active in their communities. And so on.
And so what throughline does right now is really working very closely with institutions that are going through change that are evolving, but also artists who have maybe a substantial body of work, but aren’t really quite sure how to engage an audience how to how to put it together, both physically and digitally, in a way that resonates broadly, in some respects. COVID has really furthered Oh, some of the changes that were already slowly happening in the cultural world, probably for a decade, if not two decades, a number of the institutions that I work with are facing huge challenges that this is just compounded in terms of funding and so on. But the ones who are going to make it out of this are the ones who have really embraced this moment and said, All right, our resources for let’s say, physical installations and programs and so on have evaporated and so of our audiences But we can go digital.
And in fact, I’m working with one small University Museum in Miami right now, which has basically just thrown themselves into digital programming and started collecting the programs of fellow traveler institutions from all over the country and they’re becoming a repository that people can look to, for, for programs. So I do see if there are silver linings to this, one of them is that we are really encountering a critical evolution that’s that’s that we’ve been on the precipice of for a very long time in the cultural sphere.
Steve Chaparro That’s very interesting, I almost think I must let you know when he talks about the things the only the the strong cultural artifacts will will remain or last through this and I almost think of it as I don’t know this is even a term but cultural darwinism, you know, in terms of the things that have been strong and have been sustained. You know, in in a very powerful way has been given funding has been given importance those things will last but I also think of it possibly, I’d love to your thoughts on this as what can we do to rise? Raise the cultural tide? If you will, you know, so there may have been things like that, you know, when the tide goes out only the you know you’re left exposed with what you what you have left, right? But if you are to raise the tide of things, then all that are benefiting from that tide will rise as well. So there’s a way of even lifting maybe the the weaker elements of culture that maybe have not been gotten support, or maybe have not had the infrastructure funding. If there’s a way to raise the tide culturally, there might be a way for other things to last that this period as well, any thoughts about that? I mean, that’s a weird thought. But…
Zachary Levine No, I think actually, I think you’re spot on and essentially what we’re being part of that right now, because we have been forced to go on to digital platforms in the cultural because you can no longer walk into the Mets or you can’t walk into to a major museum or gallery, there’s been a real flattening. And a lot of respects between the big guys like the Met, and the little guys like small niche museums. And what this means now is that those little guys who would have been washed out with the tide many of them are going to be it’s really horrifying, what’s going to happen to cultural institutions now. They now have the same access, and a lot of respects, at least in terms of the technological platforms that the other guys had before. And so I can’t give you a definitive answer, because who knows what the future is going to look like.
But I can say that, you know, we’re going to see some big ones go and we’re going to see some small ones go, but I think we’re going to be surprised with what happens. You know, my I think that there’s another part of this, which is, our culture is going to change because of this, the way that we see the world and the way that we portray the world and interpret it in our objects and r is going to change radically over the next decades. Because of COVID and and i think that the way that our cultural organizations interpret those materials is, is really up in the air. It is, if it weren’t such a frightening time, it would be an incredibly exciting times, right?
Steve Chaparro But if you look over history, you know, look at all of the horrible time periods where you know, plagues or or diseases pandemics hit the world. There were some beautiful things culturally and from the science world that emerged from these things that actually were very pivotal. And so it’s almost as if these very hard crucible of times are just the birthing grounds for from for some pretty powerful things.
Zachary Levine Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, that if it weren’t for the the Great Depression and the Second World War, we wouldn’t have the social programs that have benefited the United States, globalization, and pretty much all of the technology that makes it possible for us to live the way we live. Horrible, horrible things happen because of those. But but we can see looking backwards, the implications to our daily lives today.
Steve Chaparro Right. So Ben, part of the reason why we were introduced by the folks at AI ga was because of your work with the viral art project. I’d love to hear how this started. But as we discussed before, it actually started before it started. So I’d love to hear about that.
Ben Ostrower Sure, well, the the origin story of the viral art project, which it’s hard to believe, I think was only six weeks ago now, even though it feels like years ago. You know, was as as most of these things happen was sort of by accident. It was a fusion of, of ideas that Zack brought to the table and I brought to the table from past experience. So my company spearheaded wide. I spearheaded a sort of Creative organizing effort in 2018, around the midterm elections, basically reaching out to a number of creative agencies and designers and artists that we knew or frankly folks that I wanted to be introduced to or wanted to connect with, to produce, basically get out the vote posters or register to vote posters, and put those online and make those accessible for campaigns and organizations around the country to download for free on a Creative Commons license, and so that they could paper storefronts and street corners, and so on with this really superb art and design, but for free, and it turned out that that was the poster project, as we were calling it was actually fairly successful. I think at the time we had released by our measure of what success was, it was successful. I think we had something like 75 submissions. from different designers and agencies, and a lot of eyeballs hitting that site, including a lot of folks downloading a lot of these posters, so we had a template for, for doing this for doing an intake of the work of recruiting designers and artists to participate. And as well as a website that was basically ready to go that could just be duplicated and repurposed.
And Zach. Around the time we started this, we were chatting were old friends at this point, both in Washington DC, and he came with the idea of PSA posters about World War Two being produced for cleaning your hands for washing your hands, keeping social distance, staying home, all the things that we’re being told to do, very, very early on in the in this crisis. And basically what what happened is I spent as I sometimes do anxious Sunday afternoon, at the beginning of the pandemic pretty Do you sing a bunch of as a designer by background, a number of basically propaganda posters, adapting Old World world war two designs, having a lot of fun doing that, and share it on Twitter and went kind of mildly viral, I think by most people’s measures that wouldn’t be viral. But there was a lot of interest in what I was doing a really positive reaction. And out of that, needless to say, we said, hey, let’s let’s spark this up and see if there’s any interest on the poster project. Needless to say, six weeks later, we have 400 submissions of different designs from all over the world, frankly, and some really amazing stuff being produced. And so what we’ve created is almost an online Museum of Pete COVID PSA art that we we expect you know, if nothing else, Long term will be something of an archive for what this time like. And and world history is a really exciting thing.
Steve Chaparro Zachary, what what are your thoughts about how this is evolved even as a duplicate of you know, the previous art project, but what were some of the things that you were feeling when you were thinking about the prep, you know, at the beginning of the viral art project.
Zachary Levine So I have an exhibition that I opened this past fall, that is, thankfully still going on, all about the history of scrap metal recycling in America. And part of that is maybe two or three dozen posters that were used during the Second World War and the First World War promoting recycling. And the thing about these posters is that they weren’t just, you know, done by some bureaucrat. The federal government and local municipalities engaged some of the top graphic designers operating in the world in America that time to create these increases. audibly rich, beautiful posters. And so the power of these things both to have the aesthetic objects but also the to really be, you know, beautiful, uplifting, empowering pieces that you know that that communicate that message like that was completely on my mind. The fact that then and wide I already had this wonderful project sort of set up this infrastructure, it really suggested that we could could go ahead and do this.
The other part to this beyond the online section, and we hope to do it sometime this summer really depends on you know, what we can do in the United States in in Washington is that I’m the art director for a space called culture house in Washington. It’s a big art space, and they have like a 5000 square foot outdoor garden that we are currently erecting a very long wall for rotating exhibitions. And so we are going to have about 100 foot long wall covered with these models. posters this summer, which will make it possible for people to see them, you know, fairly large visit, reflect and really start to process. What we are all going through right now so we can get a say. And as Ben said, it really makes this into very much a museum of the moment. And so we’re taking that we’re going to manifest it physically.
Steve Chaparro Well, for the for those that are watching online on LinkedIn, they’re going to have a wonderful treat in that we are going to show you folks the the actual viable art project website. For those of you that are only listening, we’re going to invite you to go to the viral object viral art project website in a moment, we’ll give you that link. But for those that are watching, here, here’s a grand reveal here. And this is a beautiful website. So either of you banners anchor, you can kind of walk us through the website itself.
Ben Ostrower Zack, why don’t I quite scroll and you narrate.
Zachary Levine Sure, sure. You know, one thing I will I will also mention is that we do have a number of partners that we brought into this, we thought that was pretty critical, the very beginning. And so in fact, what you see, on the right side is a band inviting anybody who’s visiting this site to support the artists and activists Relief Fund, which is part of the SOS Foundation, and they’re a partner of this project with us. So in addition to just getting mobilizing artists and graphic designers to create these wonderful objects, we’re also trying to help with the nitty gritty of daily life for a lot of these creative folks.
And so as Ben is going to go through what you’ll see is really a large mix of different you know, lots of different types of posters, some which are very, very text based others, which are, you know, images both to World War Two or other posters like this one, then can you scroll up for just a second to the young Megan Rainey posters. So I’m gonna I’m gonna pat Ben on the back and one of our collaborators, artist Mark Kellner, who’s in Washington. The two of them put together a series of I believe six boxing posters, boxing poster style images that are instead of about the boxers, they’re about you know, the the tough people who are leading the charge against Coronavirus, Megan Rainey, MD, who who has helped really further the awareness about PHP you go down a little bit further and you start to see these things that are provoking you know about staying home or about supporting our health care workers offering ideas like this example from hyper x stay home and garden and in the middle top. Others which are really just about emotional sustenance, this one on the lower left, we will be okay. which honestly it struck me and when my wife saw it on Instagram, she said, Okay, I’m going to print that I love that. So we’re getting you know, really wonderful reactions when you visit the site. Also note that it resorts itself every time. So you can’t really assume that you’re always going to see it in the same order. And that’s by design. I mean, that way, you really can get a different experience every time.
Ultimately, we’re going to have we already have several hundred up here. So it’s, it’s fun to go through one of my favorites. Ben, could you stop for a second at one of my favorites? It’s, yeah, it I find it very haunting, but I think it’s much more about me than anything else. Is this one on the upper right. From an artist, I believe in the country of Georgia, we have no way to get in touch with him. He didn’t leave an email address or website or anything, but it’s just this, this cloud covered mountain with the message we will go through it and it felt poignant but also this a picture of what we are going to go through what we are going through but the idea that at the end, we’re going to come out okay, and we’re going to come out together. I think that that for me, though. The meaning of a lot of this is and it took me some time to get there.
I think Ben, you were you were there way before me is that a lot of this is about solidarity. And the sense that we’re going to endure this is, this is a really horrifying moment. But we’re going to endure and we’re going to come out stronger. And so if you, if you go down further, you’ll start seeing other images that aren’t just about the here and now but start to give us an image of what it’s what the world maybe could look like. When we when we get past us. Maybe it’s going to be about greater support for voting, maybe there’s going to be more awareness about the most vulnerable in our communities. So this is really, you know, about the hearing now about what we have to do every day. It’s reminding us that we’re going to get through it, and it’s offering an image for a better world.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, man, I love this so much. I it’s, as you said, it’s been growing day by day. And it definitely there’s so many more that have come on here since I last looked at it and so, so emotionally driven, I mean, there’s so much and I think the idea is, is not so much what the artists had in terms of their their meaning behind this, but it’s also our ability as, as the the viewers of this art to construct our own meaning out of out of these as well because, man, you see a picture of a nurse running in mid form, oh my gosh, there’s such a, you know, I have family members who are nurses and they speak about the urgency that they’re feeling and the inability to you know, hug a family member because, you know, they’re, they’ve been exposed to all these people, they don’t want to expose it to their family. These are just so emotion provoking, so thought provoking as well. This these are just beautiful. So how is it that people are able to Submit or how are they able to to view this? What’s the objective behind the the website itself?
Ben Ostrower Well, I can, I can answer that. And then I’d love to sort of add one more thing if that’s okay. Yeah, please. Um, so it’s actually pretty easy. We have a call to action. Just to literally Google Doc, we set this up so quickly. If you go to viral art dot click, slash invite. There’s a whole sort of guide as to how you can start and how we’re our sort of guiding people through the process of this. It’s really straightforward and really simple. Otherwise, on the website, it’s a website itself, excuse me, viralartproject.com, and there’s just a link at the very top of the page is to submit our work right up here in the top right corner.
And we also have a very, very active Instagram, which, to be honest, has probably been getting more impressions, far more impressions and the website itself, just because of the way people use, use social media. And that’s been a great way to do a lot of outreach. And to get a lot of this work in front of eyeballs and to, frankly, make it International. You know, and that’s been a really exciting thing to see.
Having been in touch with a lot of the designers and agencies and artists who are actually producing a lot of this work, I mean, everybody’s, you know, sheltering in place, working at home and trying to stay safe, all with, you know, kind of the very least a low level of anxiety and depression and we’re all dealing with it’s been really inspiring to talk to a lot of these designers and artists who see this as an outlet. Yeah, who are you using this as an opportunity to create to distract themselves, but also to channel some of the nervous energy, the way that I did when I first started started doing these little posters back in March, it’s really been inspiring to see how people have been taking a lot of what is essentially negative energy and putting it towards something that’s really constructive and positive. It’s a really inspiring thing to see.
And so definitely encourage folks to go to the viralartproject.com submit their own work, if they have it. I think we should be clear that because there’s been such an overwhelming response, we can’t post everything. We can’t share everything. We’re hoping that between the website and Instagram, and the eventual exhibition, that a lion’s share of the most sort of thoughtful work is going to be out there in the world. We both have jobs, full time jobs outside the business to run so we’re like counterbalancing a lot of our responsibilities, we may ditching the site and Instagram with that but we’re you know we’re we’re continue to be pretty overwhelmed with the response and are doing our best to keep up.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, so this is truly a labor of love for both of you this is not something you’re benefiting from in any way shape or form financially that you just creating. This is a wonderful thing that you’ve created this platform for people to one submit our but also I think for those who are not artists and can come to appreciate this art and and receive these very positive messages but I think in some cases it could also articulate the unspoken feelings. Sometimes folks don’t know how to articulate what it is that they’re feeling and sometimes these these images, these phrases can absolutely give them the language that they’re looking for. Have you Is that something that you that right there that that one It’s Coronavirus. It’s in it the words within those words that are highlighted It’s on us is that’s the one thing that I like when I first saw this one, but is, is what what, what benefits? Have you heard from artists? Like what were some of the things that they’ve said? I would imagine there’s been some gratefulness on their part, as well as those who are just observers. What are some feedback, some feedback that you’ve gotten from them?
Zachary Levine Well, we’ve, first of all, we’ve had a number of artists who have been continually submitting, that’s not necessarily every day, but they’ve been they just by their behavior seem really mobilized and impassioned by this. A number of artists have really just been excited to have this outlet. Some, I’m sure see this as as exposure for their businesses or their practices. But I think more than anything else, this is a way that as you said, this is that they can start to manifest those feelings that maybe they they can’t articulate otherwise.
You know, I also want to make a note while there are a number of names up here that might be very familiar to folks in the graphic design community or the art community, there are a lot of people who are students. In fact, we worked with a couple of classes at the University of Southern California to do a critique of this have the works that their students created for the site. And as part of their grade, they have to submit and some of them are going up. We, you know, as Ben said, we’ve had artists from all over the world so some that we just really have no way to even track at who continually submit some of the most interesting work, some really unexpected stuff. And I think that’s the other thing is that we are seeing a great deal of variety.
One other thing that I want to note is that we are not the only place doing this there are a number of essentially poster projects or projects that are engaging artists out there. It’s we see it as nothing else than just really a wonderful thing that the creative community is, is creating outlets for itself. Right? That seemed to have a really strong resonance. And in fact, you might see some of these posters on a variety of different platforms. It’s something that you know, every time I see it I’m incredibly proud of, and as you said, Yeah, but this is a labor of love for us.
Steve Chaparro So if for those that are observing, they can go to the website, they can scroll up and down, they can you maybe within themselves, determine which ones that speak to them. But there’s, there’s heart hard buttons at the bottom of each one of them with numbers, what does that represent?
So those are, you know, and you can go on there and just basically like any one that you want, and so people can come on, and just essentially, you know, if they wanted to vote for these, we’d thought that maybe would use them somehow for some type of ranking at some point, but we haven’t. I don’t think we’re really going to do that. But at the most We’re just sort of saying, you know, what people love? Yeah.
Steve Chaparro Yeah. Then you mentioned also the the green bar to the right. Sure. I’m not sure if it’s green mint green. And it says it says so you can you can support artists and activities whose work is listed on here. Well, how can people participate in that? What does that represent?
Ben Ostrower When we first started this, we, we knew that there was going to need to be some sort of charitable angle to this. You know, there’s, there’s no transaction at all right now, between us and the artists. We are unfortunately in a position to be paying anyone to be producing art, which is something that frankly, like, I personally am uncomfortable about because the notion of artists and designers working for free something that makes me uncomfortable as someone who employees, designers and, you know, works commercially. But, you know, we wanted to make sure that everyone felt that there was not just the sort of psychic benefit of producing work. That would end up in a in an archive like this that we could we could also drive action to, to some some charities and our main one has been in partnering with the, with the associate foundation. They set up a artist and activist fund and GoFundMe, I think are in like earlier mid May.
And I’ve actually distributed at this point almost hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid to artists who are in the most need, not just visual artists, but actors and writers. And so we thought that would be an appropriate fit for our Admission here that said, I think we’re, we’re, we’re already looking at potentially, because there’s actually been a number of requests for those selling prints online in such a way that they both benefit some some various charities and also the artists themselves. And I know for a fact there is a very, very wide range of, of contributors here, folks who were, as accepted, very well established and I think probably very successful, financially successful artists and designers, and some that are just getting started or graduated from art school. They’re young designers just trying to get started and start their career. And, and so giving them some stake and in selling some of their work. Biggest people want it is something that’s really exciting. Then being, you know, for a second year, student at Parsons, for example, being positioned next to Aaron trapline on this website is really cool.
And I think that one of the exciting things about this is that it’s it’s, we our goal has been to really democratize design, and to level the playing field. It’s a great it’s a great sort of connection back to what Zack shared at the beginning of this, which is that we this has been the great leveler, there’s no one who isn’t affected by this pandemic. And industry, we can call it Darwinism. I prefer to you know, call it just sort of, you know, like an innovative spirit. I think the folks are going to create and build and make new things out of this awful awful a time are going to be the ones to actually leave incredible mark and to come up with The other side of this, hopefully, better and that we are better for what they’re doing as well. So, this is kind of a, hopefully a small example of that process happening more broadly.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, I definitely see all the benefits all the way around. I mean, the the viewers are able to see the art, you know, we get to benefit from the message is just the beauty of the art itself. And also, when we think about those war posters of 2000, you know, or the World War Two, and we think of how, you know, the, the sort of the legs that those have had in terms of impact on culture, and what they represent is so iconic for that era. And you knew, and I think very much so, this is a word like experience that we’re in right now in terms of the call to arms, if you will, not, not so much the call to arms in terms of weapons, but the call to us, for all of citizens do to step up in their own way to be part of the response. To this pandemic, I love that and I can’t wait to see how over the decades, these pieces of art will remain as you know, reminders, beautiful reminders of this time period.
Zachary Levine It’s funny, Ben and I were talking the other day about the sort of the,again, the posters that are inspired by wartime posters. And at the same time, I realized, you know, there’s a bit of a contradiction there, because it is a saying some of them quite literally is plugging into the air is going to see us through I mean, the war poster say that too. But because this is truly a global pandemic, and truly a global issue. It’s all of our solidarity. It’s a truly international solidarity. And that I think is going to be the real power of this type of messaging going forward.
One other thing I wanted to add is that in addition to thinking about making some of these posters available for sale, whatever that looks like, people can download them themselves. There’s a download link on each image. And the idea that we had from the very beginning is that these would be freely available for people to print out on their own and post I’ve got a banner coming any day now to put on my house with a bunch of these. So there’s a lot that you can do with it already.
Steve Chaparro Yeah, that’s great to know. Because I that was one of the my first questions have been when we talked a couple of weeks ago is how can I get a print of these whether it’s a print of my own or to get them, you know, even sent to a printer to have them done? That’s, that’s awesome. So you mentioned the exhibition, what are some thoughts about that and even any other thing that you folks are thinking about how to carry this project, even beyond the confines of the website itself, and Instagram.
Zachary Levine So, as I said, we’ve got this exhibition in DC. We’re talking with a couple of other folks in other cities, about possibly doing installations using these metal obviously be contingent on funding, but we would love you know, again, because they’re available. Anybody can use them for installations. And you know, it’s a fantasy, but it’s a, it’s a really good fantasy that little viral art projects would go up all over the place. We’ve also used on the idea of some type of book, that’s a that’s a huge time and financial commitment.
But, you know, personally, I would love to have something that’s tactile like that, but who knows if we could ever do that. But But really, the the big question for us is, okay, these things are on a website, maybe we’ll print a couple, but is there a way Is there a destination, a place that is going to start collecting this material and preserving it for the next generation or for generations to come to remember the Coronavirus emergency. And that’s really, I think the big, big question for us, is there an institution a museum, whatever. The fact that this is digital makes it a little bit more challenging for them. But you know, I can say from my, my, my place in the museum world, is that it’s a question that a lot of institutions are asking right now. For us. It’s finding a place and a home and one of those.
Steve Chaparro Yeah. So I would imagine that could possibly be a call out to the community of possible institutions that would might be willing to partner with this project to to help you folks make that a reality. Well, guys, I’m very appreciative. This is such an inspiring project, like, definitely, I could see some of these. Well, all of them, but there are some that I would love to have on my wall. This would be great. So I’m with Zachary, on that maybe sending something out to a printer. But if so, folks have been if you can, maybe again, remind us of the website, and then you can let the audience know where they can learn about your work. And then Zachary will do the same for you.
Ben Ostrower Yeah, um… ViralArtproject.com. And go there to actually view a lot of the work as well as submit and their their links to other resources as well including the artists and activists Relief Fund. If you want to donate my company is Wide Eye we used to be called Wide Eye Creative we still go by that sometimes but we shortened a Wide Eye as we sort of expanded the scope of what we do. And we have staff all over the all over the country but we are headquartered in New York and DC and wide I CO is our website. That is the best way to see some of our work and to reach us and we are definitely taking new clients now. So if if there are organizations or campaigns or individuals out there that are looking for creative or creative agency to partner with, we’d love to talk to you.
Steve Chaparro Great.
Zachary Levine And Throughline Collaborative is throughlinecolab.com based in Washington, DC, but serving everywhere.
Steve Chaparro Ben, Zachary, thank you so much for being on The Culture Design Show. It’s been a pleasure.
Zachary Levine Thank you very much.
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