Would You Plaster Your Soul on the Wall Where You Work?

Portraitwall

Picture this: Wonder Woman holding a Starbuck’s cup, a man trapped in a computer screen and another looking into the face of his own severed head. No, you’re not reading the opening to a bizarre fantasy novel. If you’ve ever been inside our office, you may recognize these images from our self-portrait wall.

Everyone who works at WhiteSpace Creative – from interns all the way to the president of the company – completes the infamous self-portrait assignment.

The parameters? It shouldn’t be bigger than 24” x 24” or smaller than 16” x 16”. You can use crayons, clay, scrap metal, watercolors, photographs – anything – but if it costs more than $30, we aren’t paying for it. Oh yeah, and you need to pour a very real piece of yourself into a piece that will hang on a wall for years to come.

Then you have to present it to the entire company.

Making a blank space our space

Room -2_small _140x 210

At WhiteSpace, the self-portrait assignment has become a celebrated initiation process. President and CEO Keeven White assigned the first self-portraits in 2005 when we moved into our current office space on North High Street. On a practical level, the assignment began as a creative solution for filling a blank wall. Over the last 10 years, we’ve come to realize that it displays our eclectic talent base and reinforces two of our core beliefs:

  • We are all creative in our own way
  • Our people are our greatest asset

“I love passing the self-portrait wall,” Vice President of Talent Development Jen Snider said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. The self-portraits are a constant reminder of all the people, past and present, who have contributed to our success.”

Freshmeat!

Jen also loves watching the new hires open up through the process of self-exploration and company-wide presentation. Now, as part of the “explore” phase of our #WSCevolution, you get a glimpse, too. Check out this Q&A with our newest self-portrait artists.

What was your first reaction to the assignment?

“The idea of creating something personal and then presenting it to new coworkers was intimidating to me.” – Alicia Jordan, graphic designer

“I felt like it was too personal of an assignment for work (if you want it to be good art, that is).” – Jef Etters, video producer

“Fear. Excitement. Then more fear.” – Erin Monsman, graphic designer

What surprised you about the process?

“I know it sounds odd, but I was surprised to have to think about a self-portrait visually. Having a background in creative writing, I’m used to self-portraits being poems with weird titles like ‘Self-Portrait with Cured Meats’ or ‘Self-Portrait with Balloon Animals.’ I’ve always thought of self-portraits as acts of writing.” – Eric Morris, copywriter

“Since I don’t have a design background, I was surprised to see how quickly I gravitated toward an idea. And that I didn’t end up changing my mind a million times in the process!” – Isobel Parish, account coordinator

What did you learn?

“I can take photos and make things on a computer screen, but my drawing and painting skills are weak. This process gave me more confidence in creating things on paper.” – Kate Brandenstein, graphic designer

“I’m even self conscious about what cartoon me looks like.” – Megan Bush, graphic designer.

“I need to make more art outside of the office.” – Jim Lightcap, graphic designer

“I looked at my life, and I realized I have a lot of really positive things happening. I’m sincerely happy with where my life is going both personally and professionally.” – Mary Wunderle, graphic designer

Stop in anytime to view our self-portrait wall yourself! And, make sure to keep following #WSCevolution to learn more about how we are exploring our own identity.

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