Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making

Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making

I have been performing improv for over 30 years now. One of the reasons I love to get up on stage without a script or any idea of what is going to happen next is the thrill of collaborating in the moment. The collision of ideas on stage can be magical, scary, and thrilling, but to make it work, improvisers have to constantly practice letting go. Letting go of our ideas, our agenda, our self-image.

I am also a doodler and painter, and I wanted to see if I could experiment with similar ideas in my artwork. What would happen if I let go (literally) of my work and invited others to accept the offer and do something with it?

As part of the World Domination Conference, I had the opportunity to find out. We began at a hotel in downtown Portland, Oregon, where I hung 70 drawings and 30 paintings on the wall. Soon, 50 people from all walks of life (teachers, artists, adventurers) arrived for 3-hour improv collaboration workshop.

At the end of the workshop, I invited participants to remove one of the art works off the wall and take it home, for free, forever. It was theirs to keep…under one condition: They would have to make something inspired by the piece they had chosen. This could be another drawing or painting. It could be a poem, film, dress, dessert, monologue, you name it. They had a 5 month deadline and a promise that I would display all of the results on my website.

Those five months have passed, and I’ve received twenty-two notifications of new work. There were plays, a comic strip, short stories, puzzles, character sketches, animation, and many more. Here are three that brought a smile to my face:


 Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making  Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making


“When I saw it, the title of my art came to mind, which is “Revenge of the Dogs.” Soon after the workshop I started to “notice more” around me: tin dogs, cork animals, wood robots. They gave me inspiration. I remembered the improv idea “Use everything.” So I bought these inexpensive (but nice) wood chips and decided to use my broken earring, origami, and stuff. So it was all improvisation”- Yukkiko


Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making  Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making

“ “… I somehow gravitated towards this piece of art. I looked at the image of this pink devil guy tossing someone around. I thought about my middle school students, and how they feel tossed around by their parents, peers, school and society. I used this to help the students explore their own ideas of good and evil”- Susan S.


Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making      Giving Away My Work: Improv and Art Making


Libby B was inspired to create a full color comic book. ‘The Visitor.” It’s a full-color story of a robot that finds new friends on a new planet.


I was absolutely delighted by all of the submissions. Here’s hoping that folks will continue the experiment by giving away what they made and inviting others to continue the collaboration. Stay tuned….