If you’re anything like me, you either have a hoard of craft supplies you haven’t used (I still haven’t admitted to myself that I’m not going to make that scrapbook), or you have a hoard of office supplies because writers seem to have an insatiable thirst for pens and Post-Its and paper clips. Or, like me, you have both.
This is only part of the hoard.
It sure would be nice to do something with all those papers and pens and stickers… but there’s no time, or no space, or you have no ideas, or perfectionism is getting in the way, or (insert excuse here; I’ve had them all). Right?
I’ve had an idea in mind for a while now about how to make use of all the things in my little hoard, and the holidays seem like an excellent time to get started. After all, this is the time of year when the crafty and/or budget-conscious among us start having visions of DIY delights that we would love to make if we weren’t busy working, cooking, traveling, or battling the hellmouth that is the Santa Monica Blvd. Target. This project won’t break the bank, can take as little or as much time as you want, and can be done at any time of year. It’s inspired by the anonymous inspirational notes of Operation Beautiful, but I wanted to focus on sharing art, and I wanted to invite others to join me.
To participate in the Stealth Recommendation Project, you don’t need a giant stash of craft supplies like the one pictured above in the process of devouring my coffee table (although they’re really fun). You really only need something to write on, something to write with, and somewhere to leave what you’ve written. Post-Its and a Sharpie, index cards and a pencil… whatever you have on hand. It’s not about the supplies, it’s about what you do with them.
What are we doing with them?
Good question. The purpose of the Stealth Recommendation Project is to promote the words you love. Book quotes, song lyrics, lines from your favorite TV show, Bible verses… you get the idea. Short ones, if at all possible – something that catches the eye. Write the quote on a card or a Post-It, embellish it however you like, and leave it in a public place where it’s okay to leave stuff – the bulletin board at Starbucks or your laundromat or your school, tucked between the pages of a library book, the shelf of flyers and cards at the local hipster cafe… places like that where you aren’t going to get fined for posting things.
That’s it. Oh, just one simple rule: you have to attribute the quote. Give whoever finds your Stealth Recommendation a way to find the art. And I must ask, on behalf of my people, that if you use a quote from a TV show or movie, please please please with cherries on top attribute the line to the writer of the episode or the movie. Not the character, not the actor, not the director. The writer. For example: if I was going to use “This dimension I love and adore and will never, never, never leave” (paired, obviously, with an image of Los Angeles – more about those embellishments in a minute), from the Angel episode “Over the Rainbow”, I would write in very small letters at the bottom edge or on the back of the card, Angel, “Over the Rainbow”, Mere Smith.
What was that you were saying about embellishments?
Oh. Those. They can be anything — on some of mine, I’ve just doodled something, like the Signs from Over Sea, Under Stone:
The citation on the black card is written in “invisible” metallic black ink that you can only see when you tilt the card.
Or you can add collage elements:
Yeah, I slipped a Captain America reference in with my Game of Thrones quote. #nerd
Except for the black paper, which I cut to size, I’m simply using unruled index cards and different colored pens for many of mine. “The Dude abides” was made with a sticker, a $2 alphabet stamp set from Target and a $2 ink pad, and a hole-punch dot with three black dots drawn on it to make it look like a bowling ball. The dots on the Night’s Watch quote are two sizes of hole punch, and the star was drawn with a white chalk pen. Like I said – I just happen to have a lot of craft supplies. You don’t need to get super fancy. You could even cut up magazine text, ransom-letter style, if you want. Whatever works.
It sounds like I need to have some artistic ability. I can’t draw a straight line.
Nope. You don’t even have to have particularly good penmanship. (Did you see the writing on the Over Sea, Under Stone poem?) As long as the quote and citation are readable so anyone who’s curious can look them up. Have fun. Play. Forget about expectations, perfectionism, concepts of what art is or isn’t. This is about sharing your love of a piece of art with someone else, and making your own art.
Just pens and a few stickers.
I could just talk about the things I like on my blog/Twitter/etc. – why Stealth Recommendations?
To break down the barrier between the viewer and the art. If I quote a piece of art that I love in a text that I sign my name to or in a direct conversation, the reader/listener will – consciously or not – evaluate that recommendation within the context of what they perceive about me, what they may or may not know, etc. This way, the viewer connects with the art or not, without the recommender or their concept of the recommender as a filter.
I ended up with some quotation stickers in a grab bag of scrapbooking supplies, so I made cards with them too.
Does this violate copyright?
Nope… no more than if I quote Friday’s episode of Grimm during a live-tweet. Unless you’re handing out entire chapters of a text you didn’t write, which is both illegal and not the point. Short quotations, comprehensible outside of context but making the reader curious as to the larger context. Or, in the case of the Song of Ice and Fire quotes I’m tossing around, probably just making another fan smile.
Last question: Why?
No, really. Why not? We’re bombarded with corporate advertising day in and day out. We’re all rushing around, running our holiday errands or traveling or just going about our business and waiting for wherever we live or work to wake back up again (*cough* Hollywood *cough*). You’re going to get that peppermint mocha or pumpkin spice latte anyway – why not take a second to stick a card on the bulletin board on your way out? Or leave one on the fridge in your office’s break room? It takes five minutes or less (depending on how fancy you want to get) to make a Stealth Recommendation, and self-expression is good for the soul. Make one a day – take a soul break for yourself in the middle of work stress or holiday chaos.
If any of you decide to participate, please share in the comments, or tweet me – I’d love to see how this spreads.