An Interview with Dave Kirkwood

Flash mob

I’m a massive fan of Emma Kennedy – I have been since I became addicted to The Smoking Room – a BBC Three sitcom back when BBC Three wasn’t all who to avoid and what not do on a holiday in Spain. If you haven’t checked it out you definitely should. I follow her on Twitter and she always tweets really interesting, cool things.

This week she posted a link about a Micro Flash Mob through the power of Twitter. Immediately I was intrigued. Not only did it look amazing but the concept was completely novel to me. I clicked the link to find out more and was amazed at what I found.

The Micro Flash Mob is the idea of Dave Kirkwood, a graphic designer and artist. You might have heard of him as being the creator of 3hundredand65 (more on that later). Dave’s Micro Flash Mob is an inspirational idea – raising awareness for Teenager Cancer Charities through the power of graphic design and social media. Dave is filling an A3 piece of paper by drawing tiny characters holding the Twitter handles of everyone that tweets a mention of #copingwiththeBigC. It’s beautiful in its simplicity.

Dave’s Micro Flash Mob is an inspirational idea – raising awareness for Teenager Cancer Charities through the power of graphic design and social media.

As soon as I read about it and saw the piece in progress I thought it was inspiring. I now have the great pleasure of introducing an interview with Dave where he discusses the Micro Flash Mob, 3hundredand65, and how social media has impacted fundraising and the creative arts. All images are courtesy of Dave Kirkwood.

The interview

MintTwist (MT) – Hi Dave, please can you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and what you do?

Dave Kirkwood (DK) – I’m a graphic designer and artist, and currently work for myself.  I have previously worked with blue chip companies and household brands – my real strengths are in brand development, launch strategy and building brands.

I’m now drawing stories. I created 3hundredand65 which became a phenomenal cult in 2012. It isn’t finished yet we’re still raising money and awareness for Teenage Cancer Charities. A book and art auction is due early next year. Very soon I will make something of Swimming Through Leaves. I’m helping Littoral save the Elterwater Merz Barn.

MT – Please can you tell us more about your Micro Flash Mob piece?

DK – A few months ago I agreed to do something to support Becki’s work – she writes a blog called Coping with the Big C and is currently in the process of compiling a book. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoveEire4eva.

Dave Kirkwood’s Micro Flash Mob in action

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Becki had a benign tumour at 18 and Osteosarcoma at 21 but she’s a fighter. She appeared in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London 2012 and works really hard on her other activities.

Within two days we had over one hundred mentions of support.  I’ve changed the mission – instead of simply seeing how big the mob can get in two weekends I want to fill the A3 sheet. A full sheet should represent between 500 – 1,000 people.

The final drawing will be added to the 3hundredand65 auction next year so it will go on to help raise money for Teenage Cancer Charities.

“My original idea was to create a micro flash mob over the period of a weekend. I planned on asking as many people as possible to mention #copingwiththeBigC so that I could draw a tiny character holding each Twitter user name – effectively building a micro flash mob.”

MT – It’s amazing. How did you get inspired to do this?

DK – I love Moose Allian’s worlds and Shaun Tan’s work. I’ve wanted to try something like this since last year. It just happened naturally – seemed like a good idea at the time and people got behind it quickly.

MT – It’s obviously grown significantly, are you regretting your commitment to a full A3?

DK – No. It’s a lot of fun.

MT – How important do you think social media has been for this cause?

DK – Vital. Couldn’t have happened without both Twitter and my WordPress blog.

MT – Please could you let us know a bit about 3hundredand65?

DK – In 2012 we did something incredible, we brought 366 people together to see if we could be the first group of people to write one long graphic novel on Twitter. We did it – we got through 366 days and came up with some great ideas, written by some amazing people along the way.

“We have already raised £13,000 for Teenage Cancer Charities, appeared on national radio several times, TV, the press and on hundreds of blogs. We’re succeeding in raising awareness of Teenage Cancer and we’re well on the way to our £125,000 target.”

The story created in 2012 is here: www.3hundredand65.co.uk; Twitter handle is @3hundredand65

The book will be published in two editions: 365 hardback and 2,000 paperback.

This second half of the project will be even bigger than the first, as well as the book sales, the sketchbooks from last year, which include all the original drawings, will be auctioned along with artwork from the book and artwork based on the 3hundredand65 story donated by international artists from all over the world.

Some of the 366 writers include: Terry Pratchett, Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss, Rebecca Front, Neil Gaiman, Alison Moyet, Irvine Welsh, Caitlin Moran and Emma Kennedy.

MT – How do you think social media has impacted the creative arts?

DK – It’s increased the number of channels. It’s provided democratic, easy, cheap means by which likeminded people can share information and build knowledge/emotional communities so in a crass way it has created discreet markets. It is a wonderful source for inspiration and source material. It has created new platforms to experiment with and brings collaborators together. It also fuels debate which in turn challenges the reactionaries.

MT – How do you think social media has impacted charity and fundraising?

DK – I think it has given us platforms that are pretty much opt-in yet highly visible. So fundraisers can reach many more potential donors much more quickly than ever before.

Tweet using the hashtag #copingwiththebigc to get involved

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It has brought together the different challenges presented by fundraising in to easily managed and low cost tools – advertising/PR/awareness/content distribution (and publishing)-analytics/donation collection/feedback/advocacy etc.

MT – Aside from Twitter, have you utilised any social media channels for your work? Twitter wouldn’t seem to be the go-to platform for a visual campaign, have you considered Instagram or Vine?

DK – Twitter is connected to Vine, Instagram etc. and you can ‘force’ it to carry links to content very easily – everybody knows this and is used to it. Movement between different social media platforms is almost seamless so the quick answer is yes all those.

[Check out Dave’s instagram videos of the piece being created – http://instagram.com/davekirkwoodstudio]

MT – Do you have any other ideas for future projects?

DK – Yes. But I’m not telling anybody what they are until I start them.

Again, you can find out more about Dave Kirkwood’s work here, and don’t forget to follow him on Twitter! We would like to extend a massive thank you to Dave for taking the time out to talk to us about this project and would wholeheartedly encourage you to get involved.

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