Jo's Interview with Juice Magazine

What is Sparkapolooza?

Sparkapolooza is a creative project run which aims to motivate people who want to be creative but don’t get around to it. I’m sure you or someone you know have a project in their head but struggle to find the time and motivation to get it out. Sparkapolooza gives you 2 things- 1)a brief to counteract “I just don’t know what to do”, and provide a little more focus, and 2) a two week deadline- long enough to think a little, but short enough to make sure you act quickly! We don’t expect masterpieces, but we want people to do something they wouldn’t normally get around to doing.

Is there a meaning or story behind the name?

The name comes from the thought of “sparking” an idea, and lots and lots of them!

Where did you get the idea to start Sparkapolooza and what made you start the project in the first place?

Sparkapolooza started from the creative frustration of wanting to do “something creative” but not knowing what. You’ll find at the beginning it wasn’t an open project but something that aimed to be ours own creative outlet. I was sick of excuses and whinging and needed to do something about it!

Sparkpolooza opened up when I met Laura and we were working in a large advertising agency. We looked around and found even though we worked in a “creative” agency, there actually wasn’t very much of it in our roles. We shared this same feeling with many other people who worked in “creative” industries but who found they did work for clients day in and out and not enough for themselves. I often ask friends “how many client briefs are you working on? How long do you have to turn it around?”, the answer is often ridiculous. I then follow-up with the question “when was the last time you did something for yourself?”

Is there a goal you’re trying to achieve through Sparkapolooza?

The ultimate goal for me is for work to be created that may not have been brought to life and into this world otherwise. It’s what makes me most happy- knowing that we’ve inspired someone to do something. Can you imagine if some of our great artists just didn’t get around to it?

Do you have any particular expectations?

My only expectation is that Laura and I have to do every brief!

In regards to submissions from people, our only expectations are that they are created specifically in response to the brief. Beyond that, we love surprises!

How did you come up with the briefs?

There was a period where we were picking briefs out of a hat. We’ve moved on from there and now it’s brainstorming between the two of us which produces the brief. We always try and make it a little ambiguous, and double edged so people can do either quite literal interpretations, but also take it to the next level.

How’s the response from people so far?

We’ve had great responses to the project which has been very encouraging. The hardest part though is when people say they love the idea but never get around to jumping on board.

You must’ve gotten a bunch of submissions for every brief. Did those works all got uploaded or did you guys choose the ones that are going to be published?

I’ve always wanted to keep it open and publish all that are sent to us as long as they are on brief. I find it inspiring to see other peoples take on the theme, and also a bit competitive!

Ones that don’t make it are submissions sent to us that haven’t been created for the brief, but something done previously and purely fit the brief. It kind of defeats the purpose of the project!

Is there a common type of artwork that people submitted?

Photography by far is the most common type of submission, mainly because of the ease of creating something and sending it in. This has been good as it always encourages me to do something different. I’m still waiting for an interpretive dance and more video work!

So far, what is the most unique type of artwork that’s ever been submitted?

There’s two that stand out for me- one by Mike Lind in response to out “Alphabet” brief. He created the alphabet using visual puns and clues, which is both quirky and fun. The other is an illustration by Lily in response to “Little Monsters”, which is simply gorgeous.

Do you have any regular participants that always send in their work for every brief?

We haven’t had someone respond to every single brief (not even us!) but we’re putting the challenge out there. Perhaps there’d even be a prize for someone who managed to do it for the whole year! We do have some regulars otherwise and it always makes me smile receiving them.

Which brief that has gotten the most response?

The most popular brief so far has been the latest which was “Up in the Air”. Other popular ones were “What would happen if you chose the blue pill?” and “Alphabet”.

How do you spice things up, to keep the submissions coming?

We recently did a month long brief over the holiday period which gave people the opportunity to procraistinate a little longer. In the future we’re looking at mixing the briefs up to make sure there’s a mixture between fun and arty.

Who are the people behind Sparkapolooza?

Sparkapolooza is run by myself and my friend Laura. We worked together in a large ad agency and found kindred (frustrated) creative spirits in each other. We work well together in that we both share a love of photography, art and design, and we’re constantly trying to motivate each other- we often switch between good cop and bad cop!

Work wise, Laura is an online producer, and I’ve finally quit my “corporate job” and am looking for a more creative outlet.

If I’m not mistaken, you guys are based in Australia, right? Which city to be exact?

Yes! We’re based in Sydney, Australia, although Laura is initially from Indonesia. My partner is being posted to Hanoi for work, I may be making the move over there soon too.

When you are not busy curating for Sparkapolooza what is it that you do?

Too much and not enough. There is always something to do in Sydney, so we’re constantly out taking advantage of that (there’s a new exhibition every week, the beach, museums, festivals, music, theatre etc)

We both have our own blogs, Laura with See Hear Say and Jodeska where we get to house all the things we love.

Other things we love to do is cook and bake, photography, drawing......

Do you have a long-term plan for Sparkapolooza?

At the moment we’re aiming to build a base of people who regularly create work. In the long term we would love to do events and build collaborations between people.

What can we expect from Sparkapolooza in the near future?

On-going briefs and some quirkly ones too. Hopefully alot more submissions! We’re also hoping to post interviews from other creatives where we sticky-beak into their creative process.