How art inspires corporate team building
Yesterday, we surprised a group of law firm employees in our studio for a corporate team building event.
Nervous at the start
As the lawyers and administrators arrived and settled in at our studio for an afternoon for a corporate team building event, our artist instructor James introduced the project: Van Gogh’s Starry Night. We asked the group of 16 colleagues who considered themselves an artist.
Only one person raised their hand immediately. One other slowly raised their hand, shy to state that she believed in her talents. Lastly, the group suggested a third person who they considered to have artistic skill. Three people of out 16. Just 19%. If you ask this same question to a group of four year olds, they would ALL say they were artists.
What happens in one’s life journey to change your perception from “I am an artist” to “I’m not an artist”? To answer that, I’d need to write a super lengthy blog post, quoting many research studies. However, that’s not for today!
As you’re reading this, you might be thinking about your own reasons why you’re not an artist (even if you are – imposter syndrome is very real) or why you just don’t make time for creative projects. That’s what makes an art-based corporate team building event so great – it gives adults an opportunity to do creative activities not normally scheduled in their calendars.
Picking up the brushes
As we gave the team the plan for the afternoon, most seemed hesitant, unsure of their ability to complete a rendering of Starry Night across three large canvases, at least to a level they would be proud of.
We split the co-workers into groups to each work on one canvas and our brilliant artist instructor James coached each group on getting started. They were still hesitant to pick up the brushes. Slowly, each person took a turn applying paint to the canvas, until everyone had a brush in their hand. Each participant was contributing their own artistic style to the canvases, getting more and more comfortable with each stroke.
Progress inspires belief (and smiles!)
As they stopped to take a step back and inspect their work, we could see they were starting to believe in their artistic ability. The kindergarten enthusiasm for creating with colour was starting to come back and their sense of accomplishment was really inspiring.
Their faces changed from worry to smiles. The trepidation in their voices turned to joyful laughter. And, most importantly, they brought out their smartphones and started taking pictures to document their progress.
The teams were really engaged in the project. They helped each other out with suggestions, they complimented each other, they high-fived each other. It was truly uplifting.
Surprise and delight with the finished work!
Once the canvases were nearly finished, we moved them all side by side to line up the edges and make sure the painting would look like a cohesive piece once hung in the boardroom, as they hoped it would.
And even more surprising than when they all realized they had artistic ability, there were only five more strokes of yellow paint needed to bring all three canvases of Starry Night together. The team of “not artists” did an spectacular job. So amazing, they were all surprised at the result. The group of 16 law firm employees successfully re-created a classic painting, together.
It was no small task, they were working on three 30” x 40” canvases, and the team was nervous starting out. By the end of the two hour session, they had managed to create what they thought was going to be impossible. And, created it very well!