How to Start an Art Show on a Budget – Part 1: Pick a Theme

The idea for Curious Sound Objects came while I was taking a class called Make Almost Anything  (my documentation here) where I was learning 3d printing, laser cutting, PCB design, and general electronics and I made a piece that was a wedge shaped box with one knob and a screen and it was something between a sculpture and an instrument, but it mostly just made wobbly sounds and jiggly geometric shapes.  It was pretty fun.  Then I thought about how my city (Cambridge / Somerville, both in the greater Boston area) is full of people that are hacking and making stuff and these things often make sounds, so why not have an art show and present these things to the world?  And Curious Sound Objects was born.


Why was it exciting for me?

I love jamming with friends (even though I’m not a particularly good instrumentalist), making music with people is a blast.  Playing with electronics is really fun. I knew there were other people, some of them already friends, that did the same thing.  Often times we share these things with each other in a cluttered workshop / science fair setting. I have some design experience and felt like I could present these objects in a careful way and create an environment where people could have the time to appreciate them fully.


Looking back at the last two years, there have been four shows and I have no intentions of stopping.  The plan is to do ten of them, so there will be two coffee table books, Vol 1-5 and 6-10 :)

I think the reason I have maintained enthusiasm for the project, with all of the hard work and challenges, is simply because it’s fun.  There hasn’t been any financial incentive to do it (although I’m working on figuring that out, to come in later posts).

The primary thing I can say is find something you love to do, find other people that love to do it, and organize an event.  If you know four people, that’s already enough for a show.  Group shows are a lot of fun, and usually have stronger turnouts because each artist has their own social sphere (I didn’t think about this, just something I realized in retrospect)

Don’t do an event around a topic that doesn’t move you, it’s a lot easier to maintain momentum for something you personally find worthwhile.


Also use your strengths to make it great, if you’re good at design, make some fun graphics, if not, ask a friend. If you’re good at cooking, add some delicious food to the show! My mom always commented how there is often little food at American parties and everyone gets drunk and hungry fast :)