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Monday, October 12, 2015

Give your Idea Context, and People will Get it

"Self-Portrait" 11 x 14 Pastel on paper, textured
Nir Eyal the author of “Hooked” How to Build Habit-forming Products discussed the importance of putting things in context. He tells the story of world-class violinist Joshua Bell who decided to play a free impromptu concert in the Washington D.C. Subway Station.

If you’ve ever bumped into someone and you know you’ve seen them before, but you can’t remember where, this is what Bell was up against. Bell regularly sells out venues in Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall for $100 per ticket. But in the D.C. subway, he was someone people may or may not have known, and he was playing out of context.


Joshua Bell’s incredible music fell on deaf ears. In the eyes of passersby with a built-in agenda and time constraints to catch a subway, he was no better nor worse than the fiddle players who leave a hat or a violin case on the ground for gratuities of pity or generosity. Almost nobody knew they were walking past one of the most talented musicians in the world.

Eyal excuses the people by saying: “The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgments.”

That’s why when you have something important to say, or you want to make an impact with your product or artwork, put yourself and your image in context. Each painting tells a story. A poor composition will lead people on to another painting, your article won't be read, and your product may not be sold if they are not relevant to participants.

Exposure is good. Many remarkable musicians and artists do free concerts in the park, or show their artwork for a good cause. Tell your story in pictures, in dance, and in words. Tell your audience what you’re going to talk about or do, show them later in action, and then summarize what you’ve shown them or told them about.

Put your life and your words in context. Make it relevant by drawing your viewers (or listeners) into your story and by giving them a reason to get involved. Think of audience interaction as a circle. The venue, the excitement starts with you. The story or the heart of your composition takes people and leads them through your scene. When participants complete their journey, you are waiting for them again to thank them for coming and inviting them to return.

The circle signifies completion. Not all roads lead to Rome as in the past, but the experience will leave a positive impression that may lead to future sales. As Joshua Bell discovered, it’s better to put your work in context (the proper setting) than to take people by surprise in a strange environment.

Of course, if you’re a complete unknown, entertaining people in a receptive corner of your world may be advantageous. Just be sure that your “debut” doesn’t get trumped by too many distractions.
"Baby Elephant" Palm Frond Mask from Queen Palm
The before is below. I was sure I could see a baby elephant in this woody find of nature.