GUEST 12 | The Art of Improv with Gary Hirsch

Gary Hirschbw.jpg

Gary Hirsch

on The Art of Improv

Our guest this week is artist and illustrator Gary Hirsch. Gary is co founder of On Your Feet, a creative group that uses theatrical improvisation to help businesses relate, create, and collaborate. Gary is also responsible for BotJoy an art sharing project that is best described here. He has also created interactive murals in various cities across the country, in which the walls have a series of hand-painted Bot figures, each with a simple question embedded into its design. Viewers interact with the art by using photography and hashtags #botjoy and #botpdx to answer the Bot questions, creating an on-line, city-wide gallery of reflections, ideas, and beliefs. Gary is on a mission to bring joy to world through his art and I applaud and high five him for that!

The BOTS   Gary Hirsch

The BOTS Gary Hirsch

What does working improvisationally mean to you?  How would you define the ‘Art of Improv’?

My entire professional life as an artist and consultant is built on the belief that joy and great work come from behaving like an improviser.

Noticing More

Letting Go

Using Everything

I think of improv as: the art of dealing with what "Is" vs what was "suppose" to be.

Have you always worked improvisationally?

Yes, see my TED talk about making improvised art from my nightmares with my father when I was a child.  

Do you work improvisationally, consciously, intentionally?  If so, how do you begin?  If not, how do you find yourself getting there?

I have a plan and then when I start my work I let the moment not the plan guide me.  I start with a mark, or an image, but what is the wall surfacing telling me? What comes into my mind as the mark is going down on the surface? I listen to these and respond.

BotJoy mural   Gary Hirsch

BotJoy mural Gary Hirsch

How often do you work with improvisation?

Everyday, either as a performer, consultant, but mostly as a human, since every conversation is improvised, and I have a lot of those! 

Please share a bit about your process.  Do you have methods to getting started?  Do you have tricks to getting unstuck?  Do you have motivators to finishing up?

I listen to my environment, I notice what is going on around me, I let the first mark on the surface inform the next. here are some articles about my process:

Where do you find inspiration?  How do you use it?

I want to make art that is playful and helpful. I am inspired by these ideas alive in the world. 


BotJoy mural   Gary Hirsch

BotJoy mural Gary Hirsch

What advice would you give to someone interested in trying to work improvisationally.  Can you share some good advice that you received that helped you become more comfortable this way?

Have a plan and then be comfortable letting it all go in the moment.

How would you finish the sentence, ‘What if, . . .?’

 What if everyone had a giant invisible robot that followed them around all day and gave them outrageous compliments!

What are reading, listening to, watching, or any other inspirational obsessions you would like to share?

I’m reading Through Two Doors at Once by Anil Ananthaswamy, Changing Your Mind by Michael Pollen and love the JJ Redick podcast about the NBA

Thank you Gary! I love that you pointed out that all of our conversations are basically improvised. This is one of the things that I loved about the book, Improv Wisdom, the inspiration for this blog. It highlights all the ways in which we use improv in our everyday lives, and as much as I love thinking about it from an creative perspective, it really is in everything we do. Your TED talk is so inspiring and your Bots, they bring me so much joy! Thank you for sharing with us all here, and thank you for sharing your art and joy with the world. I’ve loved following #botjoy and #botstories.

To learn more about Gary and his bots check out his website, On Your Feet, Instagram @ghirschbotjoy, and do yourself a favor and check out his very inspiring TED talk about creativity, collaboration, noticing, asking, sharing, letting go and making a connection.

If you would like to be featured on The Art of Improv please contact me!  I would love to hear how improvisation impacts your art making process.