The goal of this project is to 1) help artists feel supported through the preparation stages of MiniComi and feel connected to fellow artists at the convention, and 2) help VSCIA organizers foster a collaborative relationship with the MiniComi artists and support them to ensure a positive convention experience.
This academic case study was a project for a senior user experience and interaction design course at Simon Fraser University. During these 14 weeks, my team and I had the opportunity to research VSCIA with interviews, ethnography, participatory workshops, and various other resources to identify pain points within the organization and intervene with a design solution. My role in the team primarily consisted of co-conducting interviews and participatory workshops, and working on art/visual direction for our team's presentations and final web and mobile app.
The Vancouver Society for the Creation of Independent Art (VSCIA) is a non-profit organization that organizes art events in the Greater Vancouver area and promotes local artists through various engagements, including their annual art convention MiniComi.
Due to safety restrictions for COVID-19, our team conducted all interviews through Zoom and Google Hangouts. Of the 8 people we interviewed, three were VSCIA executives, one was a past VSCIA artist, and four were unaffiliated local artists. In sessions of 45 minutes, we asked questions to gather qualitative data. We also sent out surveys to both VSCIA and unaffiliated artists for those that did not feel comfortable with a video call.
Through our interviews and surveys with our participants, we were able to identify two major insights. The first insight was that VSCIA execs want to focus on opportunities that are lower cost and scalable due to them being a non-profit with heavy money constraints. The second insight was that artists find it difficult to enter the art community, and are unfamiliar with the business and finance aspects of being a seller.
Our team facilitated two different participatory workshops through the use of Miro (an online whiteboard for collaborative work): one for VSCIA and convention artists, and another for VSCIA executives. With activities such as the Graffiti Wall, H-Forms, and Card Sorting, we were able to better understand the participants' feelings and reaffirm our understanding of their needs.
We were able to reaffirm that the issues identified during the workshops were consistent with what our group had identified previously: artists are looking for more organized opportunities to connect with other artists, and artists are wanting more convention selling support, mentorship, and guidance from MiniComi organizers during the planning phase. It allowed us to gain deeper insights on the areas that artists struggled with and understand the scope in which VSCIA operates. From this point, our group decided to research a way for VSCIA to provide business and financial guidance and resources for artists to help them be better prepared for the local market.
The planning and preparation phase for MiniComi artists is challenging for newer artists due to the lack of support and resources, and time constraints. How might we make this process easier and more manageable?
For our final design solution, our team created a mobile and web application that provides artists a planning dashboard with upcoming deadlines, to-dos, milestones, and resources.
We started creating our design solution by drafting a user flow diagram to help figure out the flow of our app.
Artists can customize a recommended timeline or start from scratch from their Planner.
Resources include both MiniComi-specific internal resources and external resources. Organizers can also add day-of-event information for access during the event.
Artists are able to edit and enable notifications for goals and milestones on both the desktop and mobile app.
Through the use of our app, we are able to help provide artists with a more structured approach to the planning and preparation phase leading up to MiniComi. Artists are able to actively track their progress, milestones, and more using any device. Additionally, the resources provided by VSCIA executives through the 'Resources' tab allows them to support artists through financial and logistical issues throughout the entire process.
Throughout this project, I learned that qualitative research methods are crucial to creating a design solution with informed design decisions. The interviews, surveys, and the participatory workshop gave our team valuable insights into the thoughts and feelings of the artists and executives we were working with. Additionally, conducting the interviews and workshops allowed me to practice being unbiased while asking questions to real clients.
Due to time constraints from the course, our team did not have the opportunity to iterate on our mock-ups of the final website and mobile app. If given more time, we would have liked to refine our mock-up app to be a fully functioning prototype.