For independent artists looking to break into creative markets, the process of building a following that leads to profitable sales can be an obscure and arduous one. In an effort to empower the artist in this process, we looked at the pain points and effective practices of marketing an independent creative business. This led us to design an application that streamlined the hazy portions of social media marketing without negotiating the artists agency in brand building.
Interviewing, Ethnography, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe XD
User Researcher, UX Designer
5 months (Aug 2018 - December 2018)
Identifying the problem
Initially, our team was interested in learning how local small businesses in creative markets go about building a brand and attracting customers from outside of their local community. To this end, we began our investigation of the problem space by conducting 8 in-person semi-structured interviews with artists and business owners in the Atlanta area regarding their experiences establishing their brand and marketing themselves. In these discussions, we soon learned that there was a larger room for meaningful impact in helping empower independent artists market themselves and their own work. The reasons behind making this shift in our target problem space are as follows:
Flying Solo - Many of these artists are single-handedly running their own business, meaning they are responsible for all tasks from the creation of supply to the point of sale and delivery. Several of the artists that we spoke with mentioned the desire to re-emphasize the creative aspects of their work while spending less time on managerial tasks. We saw this as an opportunity to help artists return to what they love about their work.
Insufficient Resources - Given that these are small businesses that are often run out of the artist’s personal space, they are inherently less equipped to handle
The roundabout was constructed outside of Clough at 7AM on the morning of November 20th. We marked the lines that made up the roundabout with spray chalk, utilizing color to demarcate spaces for different types of traffic. Cones were placed at the points of entry and exit as indicated in our mockup. Finally, the tree was placed in the center of the roundabout with a table for the leaves, ribbons, and markers.
At all times, there was a member of the research team by the tree to invite passing pedestrians to come and share what they were thankful for on a leaf. Doing so helped increase visibility of the installation and encouraged community interaction. The installation was available for interaction for a total of 4 hours.
Research Practice and data
Over the course of the 4 hours where the installation was available for interaction, research was gathered through a combination of observations and directed storytelling.
In our observations, we looked at how both pedestrian and vehicular traffic flowed through the roundabout. Specifically, we were looking to see if the markings we placed to indicate a roundabout affected traffic in any real noticeable fashion. By our estimates, roughly 30% of cyclists and 15% of pedestrians noticed the markings and adjusted their path of travel accordingly.
In our conversations with participants who came to interact with the tree, we asked them to share any stories they had about traffic in the space where the roundabout was set up. We received several stories of conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists, including rumors of the space being turned into a dismount zone for cyclists in order to reduce the risk of collisions occurring.
As a supplement to our data gathering activities at our makeshift roundabout, we were invited to attend a meeting of the Bicycle Infrastructure Improvement Committee (BIIC) to share our findings from our experiment. We were able to gather feedback from the members of the BIIC, which included students as well as staff from Parking and Transportation, Capital Planning and Management, Facilities, and GT Police. The BIIC was interested in our activities because they were looking at methods of improving the flow of traffic through that space by encouraging cyclists to slow down. When we presented what we had done, we received some skepticism towards its feasibility as a realistic solution due to conflicts with fire truck access and making the space accessible and navigable for the differently-abled population on campus. Our time with the BIIC allowed us to recruit the perspectives of experts who can approach the issue of shepherding pedestrian traffic from angles that we were not equipped to address. However, the BIIC is an organization who is dedicated first and foremost to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, so they were less interested in our approach of exploring the crosswalk as a communal and creative space.
While our observations showed little indication of pedestrians and cyclists adjusting their path of travel if a roundabout were to be implemented in this space, this may be due to the unofficial nature of our makeshift roundabout and the limited vertical dimensionality of our implementation. It is hard to say based off of our findings whether a more official roundabout with raised medians would result in different behavior by either party. That being said, we did not see any indication of our implemented roundabout making traffic any worse that it previously was and we did observe both pedestrians and cyclists slowing down as they crossed through the space.
In terms of communal creative engagement, we received upwards of 40 participants engage with the installation over the course of 4 hours. Since there was no indication of the installation itself affecting the safety of travelers through the space, we can conclude that our experiment was successful in encouraging community engagement within a pedestrian transition space without sacrificing any of the core functional usability of the space.