Artist's Handbook

FIGMENT OAKLAND ARTIST’S HANDBOOK - Download the PDF

Thank you for your interest in FIGMENT Oakland 2014 at Mosswood Park.  This handbook, while no means definitive, will help guide you through the process of bringing your art to FIGMENT. If you have any questions that are not covered in this guide, please email oaklandcuratorial@figmentproject.org.

ABOUT FIGMENT

FIGMENT is a forum for the creation and display of participatory and interactive art by emerging artists across diverse disciplines. FIGMENT began in New York City in 2007 and has grown significantly each year—in projects, duration, participants, volunteers, locations, and public support. A project of Action Arts League, FIGMENT is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization, and is created and produced by a coalition of volunteers.

For further background on FIGMENT, visit the History page on our website: http://www.figmentproject.org/history .

9 Things You Should Know about FIGMENT Oakland

1. Everyone is welcome.  Artists and participants of any age or experience are welcome to be a part of FIGMENT.  

2. All art is participatory. All of the art at FIGMENT is participatory.  We look for art that encourages people to play, dance, sing, create, engage, experiment, and explore their environment.  

3. No sales, logos, or advertising.  At FIGMENT, interactions between people are not mediated by commercial transactions of any kind.  There is no advertising, nothing is for sale, and no one asks for donations .

4. We’re outdoors in a public park.  FIGMENT takes place outdoors in a public area so your project should be designed to withstand the weather and the public.  

5. Leave no trace.  Your project can not leave any trace or mark on the park and artists must be prepared to completely remove and clean up after their project.  

6. We’re an all-volunteer organization.  FIGMENT Oakland is an all-volunteer organization. We do our best to respond to your questions and requests in a timely fashion but please  be understanding if our other commitments cause minor delays in communication.   

7. FIGMENT  Oakland is a completely free event.  There is no charge for artists or participants to be a part of the event.  

8. We have no artists grants.  FIGMENT Oakland does not have a budget for project grants.

9. We're in other cities, too!  There are FIGMENT events happening around the globe, and we encourage artists to bring their projects to multiple cities. To see where else FIGMENT is happening, visit http://www.figmentproject.org/all_our_figment_cities_and_dates_in_one_place.

CURATORIAL CONSIDERATIONS: HOW WE EVALUATE PROJECT SUBMISSIONS

The FIGMENT Oakland Curatorial Team is primarily concerned with the suitability of your project for FIGMENT as opposed to previous artistic experience, education level or exhibition history.  Artists of any age or experience are welcome to be a part of FIGMENT as long as the project is interactive, upholds our principles, and does not violate Mosswood Park rules.  Here are some questions you should ask yourself when preparing a project for FIGMENT.

Is it interactive?

Interactive or Participatory art blurs the lines between the artist, the art, and people engaging with the art.  We look for art that encourages people to play, dance, sing, create, engage, experiment, and explore their environment.  Theatre, dance, music, performance art, games, sound installations, social experiments, community projects, creative costuming, workshops, three dimensional sculptural installations, and activities are all common genres found at FIGMENT.

We generally do not accept “wall art” such as finished paintings or photography. Artists working in those genres are encouraged to find a way to engage FIGMENT participants in creating such works, such as:

  • Engaging an audience or passers-by in creating a new work
  • Displaying such works inside a larger sculptural installation
  • Collaborating with a performance art event
  • or creating some other participatory experience that involves such works

If you have an idea for FIGMENT but you’re not sure if it works, please reach out to our Curatorial team at oaklandcuratorial@figmentproject.org.  

Does it uphold the FIGMENT Principles?

In addition to being interactive, art at FIGMENT must be consistent with our 11 principles.   FIGMENT has 11 principles that shape our event, giving our events a unique flavor and experience found in few places elsewhere in the world.  They also guide the curators in selecting art appropriate for the event.  Upholding the principles presents challenges to FIGMENT artists, staff, and volunteers that many other art events do not have to address.  Please familiarize yourself with them on our website at http://www.figmentproject.org/principles.

Is it durable and designed for the environment?

FIGMENT is a rain or shine event held outdoors on public park land  without secure boundaries.  This means a few things:

  • Projects brought to FIGMENT should  be built to withstand rain and wind. It’s okay to disassemble or cover your project in the event of rain, but you still need to be prepared for rain. If your project falls apart in the wind or rain, it is your responsibility to clean it up.
  • Projects must be durable and ready to have up to 7,000 people interacting with it.  Projects made from fragile or flimsy materials will not be accepted.  
  • Projects must also be designed with security in mind— Mosswood Park is open to the public and valuable equipment or materials are left unattended at the artist’s own risk.

Does it pose a threat to LNT?

We take our principle of Leave No Trace seriously.  Your project can not leave any trace or mark on Mosswood Park, and artists must be prepared to clean up after their project.  

Is it feasible to bring to Mosswood Park? Does it pose legal or liability issues?

There are some restrictions on materials and activities at Mosswood Park. See the section on Designing Projects for FIGMENT below for more information.

Artist history & experience

As we stated earlier, artists of any age or experience are welcome to be a part of FIGMENT.  We consider artist history and experience largely for placement and PR purposes only.

SUBMITTING YOUR PROJECT

BEFORE YOU SUBMIT

Please review this guide thoroughly to ensure you understand the requirements and challenges of FIGMENT Oakland.

USING THE ARTIST PORTAL TO SUBMIT YOUR PROJECT

When you’re ready to submit your project, go to artistportal.figmentproject.org to start the submission process.  If you are a new artist, click the “Create Account” button to set up your Artist Portal account first.

Once you have signed in, you’ll see your Contact Details page.  To update your details, click the Edit button.  To submit a project for 2014, click the “Continue to Submit for an Event” button at the bottom of the page.  

On the next page, you can start a new application or resume an existing application. To start a new application, click the “CREATE A PROJECT” link on the “Oakland” row to start an application.  

On the first page of the application, you must click the “Accept Policies” and “Accept Waiver” buttons, read the materials presented in the dialog box, and then click the “Accept” button in each respective dialog box.

Continue filling out the application, clicking “Save” before moving on to the next page.  When you click “Save,” the website will validate your entries and let you know if anything is missing.  We recommend you “Save” on every page before moving on— It’s easier to deal with missing information when you’re on that page, as opposed to waiting until the Summary page.  After your entries are saved, click “Next” to move to the next section.  To go back a page, use the “Back” button, “Save” your changes, then use “Next” to continue.  Be sure to “Save” your work if you use the tabs at the top to move between sections.  

To exit and return to your application later, click “Save” before closing your browser.  When you sign back in, click the “Project Submissions” tab near the upper right corner of your Contact Details screen, and find your application listed at the bottom of the page.  Click the “Edit” link to continue.

AFTER YOU SUBMIT

After you complete the submission form, you will receive an automated confirmation email.  A FIGMENT Curator will be assigned to your project and will contact you within two weeks to introduce themselves and discuss your project.  

We will begin accepting submissions on a rolling basis once the submissions process opens.  The time to review and accept projects varies greatly by project. All artists will be notified by the Project Approval Deadline listed in the Event Process Timeline.

COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR CURATOR

The FIGMENT staff communicates with artists primarily by email. Please note that FIGMENT is run entirely by volunteers and it may take your curator a few days to respond to messages.  Please be patient and respectful with your curator.

Missed the Deadline?

You can still bring a project to FIGMENT, even if you didn’t submit your project!  Any project that complies with the guidelines in this document and that can be carried on to a park can come to FIGMENT.   Please note that unregistered projects:

  • will not be on our website or posted schedules
  • will not have access to power
  • will not have access to the amphitheater
  • must be removed at the end of day and leave no trace

If you have any questions about these requirements, or just want to give us a heads-up that you’re coming, please drop us a line at oaklandcuratorial@figmentproject.org.

Decommofication: the art of not selling art

One of the defining—and challenging—principles of FIGMENT is that of Decommofication.  

FIGMENT seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We will not substitute consumption for experience.

We certainly understand that bringing your art to FIGMENT Weekend costs money.  Outside of the event, how you raise that money is up to you.  However, artists who are a part of FIGMENT Oakland may not raise money for their project at the event itself.  We understand that this is an unusual requirement of artists at an arts event, so we want to make sure you understand that:

1. Artists are prohibited from marketing or selling goods of any kind at FIGMENT.  

2. Artists are prohibited from soliciting donations at FIGMENT Weekend. 

3. Artists are prohibited from displaying, mentioning, or giving away goods or materials with a business logo.

Designing a Project for FIGMENT

Durability and Safety

This section will guide you through what we look for when evaluating a project's durability and safety.  FIGMENT is a rain or shine event held outdoors in a public park so projects brought to FIGMENT must be able to withstand the elements, must not pose an LNT risk, be reasonably safe, and must also comply with city regulations.

Here are some things to consider.

Glass and Plexiglas

Glass and unframed or unsupported Plexiglas are something we'll want to take a closer look at, as these can break, pose a safety hazard, and may be an LNT concern.

Paper and Cardboard

Paper falls apart quickly when wet, flies away easily in the wind, and when given as a handout, they are dropped or left behind by participants elsewhere.  Any submissions using paper as a material will need to address those concerns.  Any project containing shredded paper will not be accepted.

Glitter

Loose glitter is not allowed at FIGMENT. 

Paint

All paint projects must have a plan for catching every drop of paint, for dealing with a spill, for ensuring participants won't track paint around the park, and for ensuring paint won't splatter where it should not go. All paint actively used at FIGMENT must be water-soluble.  Spray paint of any kind is not permitted.

Chalk

Chalk art is welcome. However, it can only be applied to certain areas of Mosswood Park. Please talk to your curator about placement.

Fire

Fire will not be permitted at FIGMENT Oakland

Food & Water

 Art involving the consumption of food or water is not allowed at FIGMENT. The exception to this rule is individually prepackaged goods such as wrapped candy, gum balls, fortune cookies, soda cans and snack cakes.  The food must be distributed in a completely sealed wrapper or container. If your project includes the distribution of individually prepackaged goods you must also plan for collection and disposal of wrappers, plates, cups, napkins, or any other materials that come with your food.  

 Small movable parts and decorations

Anything that moves, is shiny or removable will be played with and pulled on by children in ways you may not imagine, and small parts are prone to falling off or needing repair.  Consider how you might reinforce or avoid the use of small parts.

Sharp points and materials

Consider a child’s mentality and curiosity. Avoid sharp-moving parts, or pointy things that stick up even if it seems obvious that they should not be touched.

Climbable projects and vehicles

Any project on which participants are encouraged to climb or ride will need to be supervised by the artist at all times. Participants who climb on your project will need to sign a waiver, which will be supplied by FIGMENT.  The artist is responsible for ensuring participants sign the waiver; FIGMENT will not have volunteers managing that process.

Any project that may look inviting to climb upon, but is not safe to climb or unable to be supervised by the artist at all times may have "Do Not Climb" signs posted on or around the project. 

Electricity & Technology

Power

FIGMENT can arrange to supply LIMITED electrical power to projects that submit to FIGMENT Oakland by our application deadline and indicate what their power requirements are.

 As power may be unreliabe, we recommend power-dependent groups bring a backup generator, just in case. There are some instances in which FIGMENT rents a generator to be shared by artists.  You should find out from your curator if your power is from the park or a FIGMENT generator, and when that power will be available.  Do not assume a generator will always be on-site or running at all times. Powered projects should also bring a 100' extension cord, as well as a power strip or slitter if you require multiple outlets.

Wifi, Cell Phones, and Internet Access

At this time, there is no public wifi or other Internet access at Mosswood Park.  Projects needing Internet access have successfully used cellular access in the past.

Air and land 

Staking into the ground

Limited staking of no more than 6" into the ground may be allowed at Mosswood Park. Please notify your curator if you plan to stake down your project.

Balloons and flying things

Projects can fly in the air as high as 149 feet without involving the FAA. Please let us know if you think your project will be higher than 149 feet from the ground.

Trees

Mosswood Park is very protective of its trees.  Your project may touch or wrap around a tree if it's very light and will not damage, strip or mark a tree.  We recommend using cloth, and avoiding paper strings, since they can stick or leak color on any tree when it rains. Please let us know if you project involves a tree.

Muddy Grass

If it rains or has rained considerably in the days before the event, the grass can get muddy.  Please be sure your project is ready for mud.

The Elements

Rain & Wind

As noted elsewhere in this guide, Projects brought to FIGMENT must be able to withstand the elements. It’s okay to disassemble or cover your project in the event of rain (or at the end of the day, just in case), but you need to be prepared for rain and wind.  If your project falls apart in the wind or rain, it is your responsibility to clean it up.

Rain: If rain is an issue, we recommend bringing a tarp to cover your project and weigh it down with some heavy objects, or tie it down with rope.  Keep in mind that a tarp can also become a kite in heavy wind.

Wind: If your project is light weight, or involves light weight materials, consider how you will handle a breezy day or storm.

Sun

Much of Mosswood Park is an open, grassy area, and as such, you should be prepared to protect yourself from the sun.  Consider bringing sunscreen; wearing a hat, sunglasses, or other appropriate attire.  Plan to have enough water with you to stay hydrated on hot, sunny days.

Things we generally do not provide

Tables and chairs

Please bring any and all tables and chairs that you need to make your project a success.

Volunteer Assistance

Although we do have occasional outside volunteer groups that show up to lend a hand with FIGMENT, we do not organize volunteers to help with projects and can't guarantee any support.  Artists should bring their own support team.

Ladders and tools

We do not provide ladders or other tools.  Check with your fellow artists to see if someone is bringing a tool you need.  See your curator for details on how to reach out to other artists.

Food and Drink

Although HQ does usually have some snacks during the event, we do not always have food or drinks available, especially during install and deinstall.  Please plan to bring any food or drink you may need.

Indoor space for storage, & security

FIGMENT takes place in a public park with no secure boundaries. Any valuable materials or equipment belonging to you should be supervised by you and your team at all times.  We do not have volunteers or security staff to supervise equipment.

Grants & Funding

FIGMENT is a community-based event organized and run by volunteers.  FIGMENT  does not provide funding for the production, transportation, or insurance of works to, at, or from the park. FIGMENT encourages artists to apply for outside grants and fundraise for your project within your personal capacity.  

Please note that fundraising at the FIGMENT Oakland Event itself is prohibited, including selling art, soliciting donations, or displaying business sponsorship logos.

Projects with Adult Themes

Here's a few things to keep in mind before bringing an adult-themed project to FIGMENT Oakland 

  • FIGMENT Oakland takes place in a public park.  If you can't do it legally on a street corner in downtown Oakland, you can't do it at Mosswood Park.  
  • There are no gates or fences between the area FIGMENT uses and the rest of the public park. You will have adults and children with a wide range of religious and social beliefs about what's appropriate, or what they would like their families to see, encountering your art.  You should be prepared for a wide range of responses to projects of an adult nature.  
     
  • You will also have people with a variety of reasons for interest in, and maturity around, works with adult themes and may attract unwanted characters hanging out with your art.  You should be prepared to deal with such people.
     
  • FIGMENT does bill itself as a "family-friendly" all-ages event, so your assigned curator may work with you to find a way to make it clear to participants that the project may not be suitable for children.

Logistics

After your project is accepted, your curator will work with you to finalize the logistics of bringing your project to FIGMENT Oakland.  Many logistics details for the event are not known until the weeks leading up to the event, but this section will cover some of the usual details artists need to know.

Install and Deinstall

 All art is to be installed and deinstalled on the day of the event. There will be no early install opportunities nor late deinstallation opportunities. 

Vehicles Access and Parking

Vehicle access and parking is limited and requires advance reservations. Being accepted by FIGMENT does not guarantee vehicle access.  FIGMENT will triage and consolidate vehicle requests after submissions close.

Placement and Promotion

Your curator will work with you and our placement team to determine the best location for your project.  However, placement is not final until the day of the event. Weather, power, and construction issues have and will force last-minute relocations of projects.  

 Roving projects

 "Roving" projects move about the park, but require a specific starting time and location for participants at which to meet up. To make it easier for participants to find roving projects, FIGMENT designates an official "Roving Start Point" for roving projects to use, if they so choose. You can gather participants at the start point, and then begin your adventure from there.

Stages and Schedules

Like placement, factors weather and power may require a sudden change in stage schedules. We recommend you tell your followers to find out the performance schedule when they visit the park. Schedules will be posted at stage locations.

Visiting Mosswood park

Mosswood Park is located at  3612 Webster Street, Oakland, California and is open from 8am to 10pm daily. We recommend that all artists check out the layout of the park prior to the event. Checking out the facilities should be considered crucial for anyone performing in the amphitheater or proposing a project in or around the trees.