Urban Matter Inc completes a year!

Its been precisely a year since my last full time job. I’ve completed a year doing my own thing. The new year has been good for us. Under our art collective umbrella – Artist Build Collaborative, we were named one of the 104 finalists for the prestigious Artplace grants, next to institutions like Creative Time, New Museum and Time Square Alliance. We won the Black Rock Grant this year for an urban intervention project. We were finalists for two interesting opportunities, one for a large scale project for Beam Camp in New Hampshire and the other for a project in the Stewert New Media Center in Orono Maine. None of which we won but it felt good to be a finalist.  We are working with some very exciting new people that include videographers and creative technologists for our upcoming projects. I have been consulting part time for a start up called littleBits whose mission and product I admire and love. Rick and I also completed an 8 week class around Business Plan Development that helped us understand and think financially about things that we love doing. Its helped me think of Urban Matter Inc more as a scalable business and less as I like to call it ‘my own thing’.

We’ve also been extremely busy working on consulting gigs which for now has been paying the bills. We are hoping to grow into a more experiential company where we use storytelling, film, architecture and our technology expertise to make fun and immersive things. There are a couple of projects that we are working on that might fall in this arena. One of them is called Wise Words and it is an interactive storytelling telling installation that revolves around stories of women who immigrated to this country in the earlier 20th century. This project will be displayed as a part of the New Museum Ideas City Festival at the storefront of an amazing architecture office called GTECTS alongside another interesting organization called miLES.

All in all things are moving forward and we are working a lot. We really hope to shift our focus to more experiential work at the intersection of urban design, technology and storytelling. I’ve been reading a lot of Brainpickings and the post about purpose really stands out – ‘How to find your pupose and do what you love‘. Its a great post and some very smart people talk about why you do what you do. We are doing a lot of new things and working with a lot of new technologies and people. Its not perfect, but I want to make sure we do a lot of work and get better. Ira Glass’s video on creativity explains creating good work really well. The top most priority for me is to have fun while working on something so that work doesn’t feel like work but more like creating an artistic experience. I look forward to going to the studio everyday. Its come to feel more like an experimental lab where we work on understanding new technologies and creating new experiences by brainstorming and experimentation. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t. The idea is to move in the direction of monetizing the things we love to make. I hope we’ve moved successfully in that direction by the time I get down to writing my next blog post. For now, Rick and I both have to wrap up a number of consulting gigs which might spill into summer time. After that we would seriously need to rethink why we are doing what we are doing, what we enjoy doing most and the million dollar question – how to make money doing what we love without having to do it all the time.

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