From Design to Storytelling to Marketing to Storytelling (again)

Connecting people, time, place
and storytelling together

After I graduated and I was working as an interior designer but felt that dark foreboding cloud following me everywhere I went. For a long while, I’d fall asleep and dreaded opening my eyes. The gist of the problem was my work. I decided that if I can’t find my creative satisfaction through quality projects, I will find it my own way. I found my answer on the streets and with a piece of string, I was able to connect people, time and space together. I was like a spiderwoman of the streets.

I was like spiderwoman on the streets. I connected
people, time and space together.

My first ‘string story’ artwork was memorable because I dragged my friends along the banks of a local river and ended up being caught by the police. They stopped us and asked if we had the council’s permission to do our ‘web’. I didn’t. That is the nature of street work, we are simply doing art. Do we need such a permission? Nonetheless, they were generous enough (I’d like to thank my own sweet talking method) to give us a few hours to finish my work and take photos. People across the streets were following us and saw what was going on. Eventually they became more curious, a few brought their kids, and joined in the fun. In the end we had to cut the work down and the neighbourhood took a piece of memory and a piece of string story home.

Using string, I connected time, place and people together.
Another artwork ‘String Story’ in Tokyo (2012).

The other was in Tokyo, when my leg was covered in mosquito bites. It was a year since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. I found a tiny little and somewhat abandoned playground. With a bright plastic string I made a vibrant orange web. Some of the locals came to me and shook my hands and in broken English, “Last year… It was very bad but your art, I can believe in life again.”

Art and stories know no bounds and cross many borders. It can evoke emotion deep inside of us and allows us to connect with people.

Overtime, my creative practice evolved and now I continue to string people, time and space — now I connect virtually online.

If I had to give one advice for any creative, I suggest that they find a short course in how to run a small/micro business. I wish I did that when I first started because whather we like it or not, to do what we love, we need to sustain ourselves, we are entrepreneurs. Why — because we have to eat. I, for one, am always hungry.

How long is a piece of string?
I’m still act like a spiderwoman, my work has moved online. I still connect the line between people, time, place together.
It’s all a digital string now.

With Meerkat, a video live streaming app, the string is alive. It has been woven and connected me to people from all around the world. If anything, my willingness to connect allows me to learn and have conversations with anyone, anywhere and anytime.

Communities/Tribes/Mobs all have one common link: we are connected by our mutual interest. I believe unconditionally that one of the amazing things about the app is not the app itself but the community. I love the people, support and positivity within this platform.

When Meerkat first started, I was a little upset to notice that there still is no safety mechanism to manage ‘trolls’. People have used it to vent their negativity online and on to others. MK is a public space that should be safe for everyone.

That’s how #911MK was started, through a very bad internet connectivity and stream, an emphasis was placed on dealing with negative behaviours. Through the act of the community, one can moderate and enforce positive behaviour and language as the norm. Eventually a report and mute button were created.

Meerkat has also been a place to meet new friends and form new connections. We have met people and made friends from all around the world The network we made is something that I value. If anything, MK has made me appreciate the community we’ve created together. The people we met here are the people who continually draw us back to the app. ‘Meerfamily’ is an apt name to describe our community- we have emotionally invested our time and effort into streaming and developing relationships.

So there you have it, I went from studying design and learning how to use space to connect people and place together. Then went to art making to impact the world but engage people with the stories.

I got paid more to do ‘social wows’ in the social media and digital space.

Not all is loss, I continue to thrive and solve problems. I just creatively use design and innovative digital technology to make it happen.

The takeaway here is to remember that people and stories continue to remain the same. Technology may continue to innovate, but stories still inspire people to change.

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