Last week I attended the successful gala "Art from the Unexpected" – a fundraising event for "Sketch", an organization that helps empower young artists to develop their unique talents in a safe environment.
Sketch has been helping for thirteen years now, as I came to learn by speaking with their friendly volunteers. For many who arrive there, Sketch is their first opportunity to leave behind the troubles and dangers of the street for a place to develop unique talents and achieve a sense of direction.
This is why the event, dreamed up by AdLounge and held at the historic Steamwhistle Brewery, was so important. I'm happy to report that the event was a great success, raising over $20,000 dollars in support of the organization. I was happy to attend with my good friend and talented video producer Shazeen Pirani, of Organic Inc.
The premise of the "Art from the Unexpected" event was unique. Twenty business leaders were asked to produce artwork, based around the theme "Eureka". What makes this unexpected is that these people have large groups of highly talented individuals at their disposal who work in the creative field, yet these pieces of art were to be their own contribution – their own unique creations, reflective of their ideas for the theme.
I was excited by the prospect of seeing a glimpse into the private minds of these successful individuals, and I was not disappointed. As noted by AdLounge founder Trina Boos in the opening address, it seems we are all born creative…and spend a lifetime un-learning it. At times it is good to remind ourselves of this early ability, and learn once again to play, discover, and build. I am a firm believer that good ideas, creative thoughts, can come from anyone. This was certainly evident at the event.
"Every single person in this room has the ability to be creative", said Trina, "to take chances, to come up with original ideas"
Each of the twenty contributors had exactly one minute to present their work and deliver a few sentences about their creation. Again, I enjoyed this very much and alongside the many in attendance applauded people who stepped out from behind their creative directors and pitch teams to talk openly and honestly about their own personal creative process. What came forward from many was an overall sense of good humour, curiousity, generosity, and yes, a bit of nervousness.
I don't think we often get to see that side of this industry, where presentations are polished to perfection, and creative efforts go through many iterations, often transforming into something entirely different than originally planned. No these creations, and their matching presentations, were open honest expressions.
"Art from the unexpected is really only unexpected under the conditions where you believe that the advertising industry thinks of creative as a department", said Jack Bensimon, president of Bensimon Byrne. He drew his inspiration from many passers-by he noticed using mobile communications.
Jacquelyn Corbett Cyr of Espresso drew inspiration by thinking back to a childhood project, and went with that theme producing a visual of clockworks to point out that time constraints are one of the greatest challenges to creativity. I had a chance to speak with her afterward and enjoyed her entertaining conversation very much.
Goodwin Gibson from MacLaren MRM told a short tale of being out in nature with his dog, enjoying a new snowfall and having a moment which was "one of the moments you realize how good it is to be alive".
Most of the presentations were like that, small personal anecdotes regarding where the creative expression had come from. Notable for being outside of the advertising industry were Anthony Lacaver of Globalive Communications, and Kevin McLaughlin of Autoshare. They both showed a great sense of humour in their presentations and brought a personal touch. Anthony spoke of his love for flying, and Kevin enthused about the architecture of OCAD.
After presentations, there was more time for bidding on the artwork and for chatting with the artists.
The top bid went to Dawna Henderson, President of Henderson Bas. I was happy about that, I know a lot of the good people at that company and they are a fun bunch. Dawna herself is a dynamo, and she took to the stage to thank her sponsor personally.
Another notable event happened when Tony Chapman, CEO of Captital C, offered up "next hire" to any talent recruiter present who would donate $5000 to Sketch. This challenge was picked up by recruiter Ari Aronson, which brought the event a good deal closer to the goal of $20,000 for the evening.
In the end, it came down to a final push by the crowd present, everyone pitching in together to bring the event to it's target figure, and it was a pretty good feeling when that was achieved.
I'd also like to mention the catering for the event, which was wonderful. I had more cupcakes than a human being is intended to, but they were so good! So I'm offering up the baker's website; alittlesweet.ca. I managed to snag a card on the way out and I might just have to place an order.
I'm sure I'm missing many details that should be mentioned, with so many large personalities in one room at the same time. But the best thing for any reader to do would be to contact Sketch through their website. They are friendly, articulate, and would be happy to hear from interested people.
I'm hoping to get over to Sketch myself to see first-hand some of the work they are doing. They're not far from me at Oddly Studios.
Following is the video that AdLounge put together after the event – it has interviews with a number of the contributors to the auction.