The Great Discontent

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What could you do with 100 days of making?

When we interviewed Elle Luna in October 2013, she had recently left her day job to dive into painting full-time. Prior to that, she had helped design Mailbox's iPhone app, redesign Uber's iOS app, and scale the storytelling platform, Medium; before startups, she spent five years at IDEO. The TGD alum has continued to make art and speak about her journey—and she’s written her first book due out this spring. Now, she’s working on an exciting project with MoMA, and she wants you to get involved.


I recently hopped on the phone with Elle to talk with her about what has transpired since we interviewed her in October 2013. As usual, she has many wonderful projects in the works, but the majority of our conversation revolved around #MoMA100Days, an upcoming collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that will celebrate the different forms that creativity can take. Read on to learn how you can participate in #MoMA100Days! —Tina

Tell me about the premise of the 100-Day Project. A year ago, a group of us launched a social media version of a grad school project conceived by Michael Bierut, a prolific, talented designer, writer, and teacher. For years, he led graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art in a workshop that he called “The 100 Day Project.” The premise for Michael Bierut’s class was simple: each student chose one action to repeat every day for 100 days. For example, one student made a poster in under a minute every day for 100 days; another danced in public every day and made a video; another student, Rachel Berger, picked a paint chip out of a bag and responded to it in writing for 100 days.

Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right? That’s what I thought when I first read about this project on Design Observer. Not only were the projects clever, but they also offered an opportunity to grow in one of the ways my friends and I were craving: discipline. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.

41 of 100 self-portraits
Last year, Elle’s project was to create 100 self-portraits in 100 days; here are 41 of them

“Just as MoMA has a vast, powerful collection of world-class work that exists to be shared, there are also so many folks all over the world who have vast, powerful work inside of them. They’re just waiting for a nudge to make and share.” 

A hundred days! I can recall the questions that raced through my mind before I decided to jump in: Can I handle it? Will I push through when my schedule is jammed? Will I share even when I can’t resolve a piece? Will I show up every day, even when it hurts—especially when it hurts? A group of us banded together and decided to share our projects on Instagram, tagging images with #the100dayproject. People of all ages joined in, and there was something very empowering about the accountability of doing the project alongside other people in a very public way via Instagram.

Last year you completed 100 days of self-portraits, but others got involved, too, via social media. Were there any projects that stuck out to you? One of the projects I remember the most was from Hillary Patrick, whose Instagram bio read: “Wannabe artist. For real mom of two.” Her stream was filled with photos of her two adorable boys playing soccer. Her project? One hundred days of embroidered nonsense: she stitched a bone-in ham, an 8-bit Frogger, and the logo of the ‘80s cartoon, JEM. At the end of 100 days, in between soccer games and chasing after two energetic kiddos, Hillary had stitched her way to a robust body of work. It was spectacular to follow her journey through Instagram, which enables this whole new kind of interaction with artists and makers who share what’s happening with their work in a behind-the-scenes kind of way. The 100-Day Project makes process the great equalizer.

And now you are collaborating with MoMA on a new 100-day project, #MoMA100Days. How did that partnership come about? Chloe Wayne, one of the fantastically brilliant people over at New York’s Museum of Modern Art saw what we had done and reached out. She is the co-chair of MoMA PopRally, a program that produces fun and experimental events that serve as a gateway into modern and contemporary art and MoMA’s collection and exhibition program. One sunny morning, I met Chloe for coffee on the Lower East Side, and we talked about the museum’s mission to get more people involved in celebrating art. A social media project that empowers creativity in all fields has the power to do exactly that—and that’s how #MoMA100days came to be. 

As museums are making their walls more permeable and rethinking how and where audiences experience, participate, and grow from the presence of art in their lives, it’s energizing to see MoMA take on a ground-up, community-driven, public art project. Just as MoMA has a vast, powerful collection of world-class work that exists to be shared, there are also so many folks all over the world who have vast, powerful work inside of them. They’re just waiting for a nudge to make and share. 

Just last week I was doing a studio visit with San Francisco-based artist, George Zisiadis, when he remarked, “I remember the first time I saw Picasso’s painting, ‘Guernica.’ Next to it there were sketches he had done. Sketches? You mean it didn’t happen in one fell swoop? No! ‘Guernica’ was a long process of experimentation, and I’ll never forget realizing that. Creating work is about surrendering to the process. It’s about the act of creativity, which exists as an action and not as a product.”

That’s amazing! So, Elle, who should participate and how do they join #MoMA100Days? Anyone who is hungry to jump-start their creative practice, who is curious about being part of a community that celebrates process, and those who are busy with work and family commitments, but searching for a bite-sized way to play creatively. Anyone can join us on Instagram at #MoMA100Days.

Here’s how you can play:

Alright, I have one last question. Will there be a culmination at the end to celebrate? Well, we can’t share details yet. But let’s just say that MoMA knows a thing or two about how to celebrate art in a spectacular way—wink, wink.

Well, we can’t wait to see what happens!interview close

Download and share one of the following #MoMA100Days pledge images on your Instagram account to let others know you’re going to participate; illustrations by Elle

About Elle

Elle Luna is a San Francisco-based artist, designer, and writer whose first book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, debuts in April 2015. Read Elle’s full-length TGD interview online or in Issue One of TGD in print, available for purchase in our shop.