“It would be great if more people would personally experience how artists work” – Tom Hill
When it comes to the distorted culture of art, we seem to focus on the established elites, instead of discovering and supporting the new generation of artists. If this is the case, an artist’s reputation becomes built on their marketing skills, rather than the art they produce. Only the lucky few receive even a hint of recognition for the effort and hours put into creating their work. It creates a disconnect between artists and their potential audience, with no clear way of building a relationship between the two.
The Booth is trying to reestablish this relationship by returning to the fundamentals of amateur art. It has built an intelligent twist on the dying tradition of photo booth photography, bringing the work straight to the public in a way that is personal and convenient for the buyer.
The idea is simplistic, one of those you kick yourself for not thinking of first… An artist is behind a mirrored screen, meaning the public doesn’t actually see the maker at work. The Boother will then take anywhere from three to ten minutes frantically drawing what they see. I found it surprisingly relaxing, taking ten minutes out of my day to focus on myself. That’s after I’d come to terms with how self-conscious I genuinely am, of course. But this refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of ordinary life isn’t the real accomplishment here: it’s giving young artists the motivation to move forward in their careers having already received public appreciation. These artists are making their own opportunity, not waiting for it to appear from thin air. They’re opening people’s eyes and changing the perception of those who look down upon their profession or simply don’t understand it.
It’s this that artist Mitch finds most important about the project. “I think there is a real struggle to help the public understand the value of a maker, and The Booth works to give the user an understanding through a very personal interaction. It’s a machine designed to navigate past the artist/public divide of misunderstanding through the interaction.” By seeing yourself through the art of this creator, their value and talent is impossible to ignore, and the reality of their career much more accessible.
Many of the Boothers see this project as something to grow alongside their individual endeavours and portfolio development. It’s not just some quick cash to buy lunch or a night out, but a chance to go it alone and begin building their own creative identity. It’s a tough industry, packed with young adults with a pipe dream, but very few will have the opportunity – or the guts – to quit their day job to pursue their passion.
“There’s absolutely a reason why that street caricaturist is still pumping sweet honey out of the tourist with the time to kill, and I think it can be the same reason as to why an artist-dedicated platform like The Booth can have a global human appeal. Where there are people, there is a want for art; and The Booth can directly give art to the public in the most absolute core, personal sense. It bypasses all of the obstacles of social media, or internet, or any indirect communication, and is a human to human contact through making; just for you, right now.”
The modern digital way an individual builds an audience involves apps, strategic use of social media, and plenty of disappointment. While those numbers on a screen can help get you where you need to be, the personal connection is often lost, and the hugely important grassroots fanbase with it. It’s an important aspect of the creative experience that too often goes unrecognised, and a way to stand out in a market awash with wannabes. This is the beauty of The Booth: connecting the artist with their art in the eyes of their audience, and bringing the creation of visual art back from the elites onto the streets.
Learn more about the Booth and discover its artists: