DIY Creative Experiments: The Art of Culture Jamming | Ivan Cash | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

DIY Creative Experiments: The Art of Culture Jamming

teacher avatar Ivan Cash, Interactive Artist & Freelance Creative

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What is Culture Jamming?


    • 3.

      Creative Warmup: Camera Rollette


    • 4.

      Exercise 1: Observe and Report


    • 5.

      Exercise 2: Rapid Ideation (Post-It Note Challenge)


    • 6.

      Exercise 3: Framing (What's the Headline?)


    • 7.

      Exercise 4: Public Intervention


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


    • 9.

      More Creative Classes on Skillshare


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Need a spark for your next creative side project? Looking to turn a personal passion into a portfolio piece? This inspiring and tactic-driven 25-minute class with artist Ivan Cash will challenge you to disrupt cultural norms and everyday habits through the art of Culture Jamming.

Ivan provides five DIY creative exercises as a jumping off point for you – the creator, the freelancer, the artist – yielding original ideas for engaging social experiments that could be the next viral story.

No matter your age, background or level of experience, anybody can jump right into Ivan's tried-and-true creative exercises:

  1. Camera Rollette
  2. Observe & Report
  3. Rapid Ideation (Post-It Note Challenge)
  4. Framing (What's the Headline?)
  5. Public Intervention

These interactive prompts will push you outside of your comfort zone into beautiful, uncharted territory of boundless creative growth.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ivan Cash

Interactive Artist & Freelance Creative


I'm a San Francisco-based Interactive Artist who creates social projects that are culturally disruptive and radically engaging.

I love sharing my thoughts, ideas, and experiences with others -- having taught a Creative Ideas course for three quarters at Miami Ad School, a semester-long course called "Culture Jamming" at California College of the Arts, and recently given a talk on the value of personal projects.

I'm an expert at creating projects that impact culture, and have done this with Snail Mail My Email (which was published into a book), Occupy George, Selfless Portraits, Hack Marriage, and many more. My work has exhibited internationally, been featured in CNN, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Juxtapoz, and I was recently recognized as an Art Dire... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hey guys, I'm Ivan Cash. I'm an Oakland based independent artist director and creative director. I love doing projects that disrupt culture, that get people to see things in a different way. I'll be teaching the art of culture jamming today designed to help people examine, analyze, find insights in real world culture, and then strategically intervene through a series of prompts and exercises. What is culture jamming? To me, culture jamming is a communication style that disrupts life as normal. It disrupts the way things are conventionally done, and kind of infuses a thought into the world. So, in this class, students will learn how to break out of their comfort zone, they'll learn how to find observations and insights about the real world. I want students to learn, to feel self empowered, and to develop creative courage. I think a lot of times I will have ideas about things but it can feel inaccessible or hard to understand how you might be able to implement them. I want to really break that notion and just empower people to experiment, make mistakes, fail harder and really see the accessibility for their ideas to be realized in a short amount of time. The assignment for today is to make a social experiment that you do and go out into the real world to make a person in a business suit smile Plain and simple, we'll have a creative warm up. We'll have an observation assignment in public where we're looking around and trying to take cues about what's going on, what insights we can gleam, we'll then do a rapid ideation to develop our ideas and think about what we might want to execute and then actually going out having someone film us and disrupting the norm in someway. Students don't need any prior knowledge coming into this class. It's designed to be as accessible as possible. Having a smartphone helps for documentation. You also need posted notes and a pen, and then a couple of hours. But other than that, this should be really accessible regardless if you're just starting off into your creative career or if you are a seasoned veteran with 20 years of experience and still want to examine this topic. This class also might help you develop a killer portfolio pieces. When I've applied for jobs at ad agencies in the past, a majority of the work I show is a personal project that often uses these culture jamming principles, and I find that a lot of times people are looking to see disruptive thinking. Almost more importantly, is that it's personal deep fulfillment, and that as creatives, it's important to find a form of expression that isn't compromised and is just what we want to say. So, I think that that's important. 2. What is Culture Jamming?: To me, culture jamming is a communication tactic, that's really designed to disrupt and subvert mainstream culture. It's an unexpected or a creative break in the routine, something that disrupts the norm, and ideally something that challenges spectators or viewers to pause or requestion their reality. Everything we do is communication. No matter if it's a passive act and we're just receiving information, we're talking to someone. With so many messages coming in and bombarding us, a lot of times it does take a passive form. So, through this class and through culture jamming, it's designed to empower people to kind of push back and say okay, I have an idea here and I want to infuse that into culture. So, I guess to have a more active role in the public narrative, in the public dialogue, and not just passively taking in information. So, I think through this class, students will be able to find satisfaction in expressing their truth, and disrupting the status quo, and ultimately getting recognition for your voice not someone else's. Because a lot of times in branding and advertising, were designed to communicate someone else's voice. This class is very much designed to help empower you to find your own voice and you use that voice out in the world. So, I think that this will help people develop a stronger personal creative voice. I think it'll help them develop new brainstorming techniques and ideally laddering up affecting cultural change, being able to create a project and have that project impact public at large. So, having a strong creative voice, learning how to culture jam, to me will allow students to whatever they're putting out into the world, will have their unique voice. It won't be coming from someone else, it won't feel generic. Both places that are hiring creatives and just general public at large, we want a new voice, we want a fresh authentic voice, and to me it's really important to spend the time to think, Okay, like what is it? What do I want to say? What am I observing? Then, how can I put that out there as efficiently as possible? 3. Creative Warmup: Camera Rollette: First, we're just going to start out with a creative warm up. So, this is an experiment that I do at conferences and at the bar and kind of anywhere in between. So, it's called camera roulette and from the name, you might be able to gather. We're going to go through your photo roll and ask you to scroll at random through your phone, select a random photo, not a picture curated photo, but truly the one that you land at randomly. Then, I'm going to ask you to just talk about it and describe it and what is it that we're seeing? Can you find a unique story thread? It doesn't even have to be interesting. I just want to know like what is the true thread for you? This is a really fun game to play with a partner, if you have other people around or if you want to bring it to the bar. In the age of social media, we often times want to only put the most interesting or sexy or impressive photo forward, and then we kind of hide the the ones that aren't as interesting, but to me, the ordinary is actually extraordinary. The stuff that we hide away or that we don't share is actually much more interesting than the stuff that we choose to curate. So, we try to honor where you naturally end up without feeling the need to change it because it's not cool enough or good enough. Maybe it's embarrassing, maybe it's something that goes in a totally different direction. That's okay too. I'd say just run with it and see what happens. So, in the project gallery, we'll ask you to share that photo along with a little description about what that is. So, I'll do a demo here. I've no idea what- this isn't staged, so hopefully, it's not a nude photo. So, I'm just going to go and then stop and then I should have a photo up. All right. This is a photo of a photo. This is from a shoot I did over at Ocean Beach, and the sun was going down. I think our shoot was done and so I just turned to the ocean and shot. Off the bat, I immediately have judgment that like this isn't an interesting photo, this is kind of boring. But if I think about it, this was the first shoot I ever did before I got into film making and I didn't really know where that would lead me and since then, I've made a turn more film. So, I guess for me here, it's less about the surfer and the sunshine, and more about I guess like a story of humble beginnings and of thinking back to that day and that experience and feeling like I didn't know what the fuck I was doing. I was totally making it up as I went and yeah, that's interesting. All right. So, one more here, camera roulette. Here's a photo and looks like it's a sunrise in San Francisco. Yeah, again, I'm immediately having judgement, like, "Oh, this is cliche, not interesting." I'll kind of give myself my own anecdote which is like you know, it just run with it, what's the story behind there? So, I started looking at sunrises after having a bad LSD trip on Halloween three years ago, and being totally bugged out and just wanting to go home and go to sleep. I couldn't sleep and so finally at 4:30 AM, I went to the roof of where I was living and just looked out and had this incredible experience where everything was well in the world and it was sunrise. I promised myself, from now on, I'm going to wake up early and watch the sunrise as often as I can. So, that's likely what inspired this photo that we see here. So, I guess, when you're looking at your own photos, I would just encourage you to think, to not shy away from it, but just lean into it and like what is the insight there, even if it is a little vulnerable, it means you're revealing something more than you planned on doing. 4. Exercise 1: Observe and Report: The next assignment is about observation and the power of finding insights out in public. I'm going to ask you to close your computer. After you finish watching this, turn off your phone. Any other technology, put it aside, and go out in public for 30 minutes with just a notepad and a pen. What human insights do you see? What kind of weird shit is happening out there? I find it's really helpful to approach this from an anthropological perspective almost and pretend you're exploring a new country and a new culture. Or even better, pretend you're an alien and you're coming to this new planet, and here's the human species. What the hell's going on? Write down everything. Challenge your assumptions. Things that are obvious, write them down anyway. What are the unspoken social rules? Where is there tension? Habits that maybe people aren't aware of or that we're not usually aware of. What's totally weird that we take for granted? It's a fun one to think about. As you're out there, you can also start to think of, is there a social experiment that I could do to disrupt the way things are? But in this case, we're not asking you to alter anything, just to really take notes with how things are. I did this in a cafe and I'll just read through a couple of the observations I had, just to give an example. This is at a cafe in downtown. I observed most people avoid eye contact at all costs. However, a select few regularly look up. It's almost awkward when they look up like that. You have these people that are peeking all the time. People generally only tip when the barista is looking. Have you ever noticed when you're tipping, there's this tendency to wait until the person's looking back at you before you drop the dollar in there? Square, these automated payment forms, in some ways, they make tipping easier, but the exchange of giving and receiving seems to have gotten lost. So, another insight is if you see someone standing next to the bathroom, we assume it's occupied and through waiting without actually knowing if anyone's in there. So, to me, a social experiment, you can actually come out of that is, what if you went out to a public cafe, waited outside of the restroom and there was no one in there? Then just seeing like there's a line form behind you, how long does it take for someone to actually knock? People on their laptops will often ask someone sitting near them to watch their stuff while they're away, for instance, in the bathroom. There's an assume trust by proximity, but we don't actually know if these people are trustworthy. How do we stereotype who we choose to ask based on who's around us? As two people wait in line to order, they chat naturally. However, once they're close to ordering, an awkward silence happens where they both rehearse their order. None of these seem to be profound insights. They can all just be very basic what you're observing. If it feels hard to access at first, you can just go for this simple low-hanging fruit. Things like, who has their legs crossed versus leg straight when they're sitting down? Who has glasses versus not has glasses? Who's paying by cash versus who's paying by card? You can start really simple and easily. Yeah, I invite you just to explore and have fun and really allow yourself to be curious about what the hell is going on. After you go through this list over the half hour, pick three of the observations or insights that to you feel most interesting and you can share those in the post. 5. Exercise 2: Rapid Ideation (Post-It Note Challenge): This next lesson is called Rapid Ideation, aka the Post-It Note Challenge and the goal is to fill up as many Post-it Notes as possible in a short amount of time. Each Post-it Note should have one idea written on it, and then move on to the next Post-it Note, it's designed to be disposable and that you write down your idea, and then move on to the next, and you don't have to think about the idea that you moved on from at all through this exercise. It's just read an idea, next one. Write a new idea, next one. I don't want you to feel a lot of pressure about coming up with a great idea in this or a masterpiece idea. This is very much designed to just have ordinary, you could even empower yourself to have bad ideas. Just get them flowing and that'll take care of the rest. This really important just to let it flow. So, yeah. In the next ten minutes, I'd like again to ask you to put your phone on airplane mode or just make sure that that's not a distraction. You can set a timer, that way you don't have to keep checking the time, you can just know that ten minutes to set. Yeah, I invite you to make yourself comfortable. Sometimes, I lie down on a couch to do this ideation, but you can also work at a table and yeah, just see what happens when you start writing down ideas on a Post-it Note. You can let the brief guide you which is let a person in a business suit smile, and you can also think about the location that you're in and how to do that within that context. So, for me and for the purpose of this exercise, I did it at a cafe, and I'll just read a couple of those. So, these are totally ridiculous, right? These are not great ideas or by any means, it's just I guess I'm trying to demonstrate how weird in loose you can get. So, I put down setting bird free in a cafe, make a campfire in the middle of the cafe and watch people react. To pretend to be on Bluetooth phone call in a cafe, but clearly without any device. Synchronize with other Cafe goers to play the same song at the same time out loud. Where virtual reality and walk into a cafe exclaiming how how free and natural I feel. Taking three full minutes to complete an order, when the barista ask me for my name, I'll say it's Iguilzohmtalik Treasklaminotion and insisted they get it right. Come into the cafe, we airing nothing but a tie, banning technology in a cafe via posted official looking sign, person in a Leotard dancing around a cafe. A couple other tips can be, feel free to think weird. Don't hold yourself back. I think in terms of first-ever. So, this is a trick from the ad industry where when you're trying to sell an idea through, if you say first-ever in front of it, it has a much better chance of selling through because it feels more newsworthy unimportant. Get unbelievable do something that hasn't been done before or something that is just so unexpected that it's a spectacle in and of itself. This is really an invitation to let your mind run, and don't have any pressure of anything beyond that. Then is there a tension you can lean into or a problem you can solve? A lot of times, I find good ideas will come from there being a problem and then you can use creativity to find a solution in that. So, you can think about your observations, and maybe a tension that you found, for instance, people are on their phones. So, one social experiment could be banning technology in the cafe to try to solve that tension. One Note is to not get too caught up in the business suit element. Yes, that is the intended target audience by if that feels to limiting, feel free to just take that restraint often, just think in terms of how to disrupt just people in general within this space or environment that you observed. I've given this assignment out in the past and there have been a couple of really strong executions from it. I just want to share a couple of to give you guys context. I had a student named a Naroo who her observation is that people never turn around. When they're in downtown, there just on a mission to get from one place to another, and so she taught, she created these helium balloons with smiley faces on them, and then tied them to business people's backpacks without them knowing, when they are waiting for an intersection, and then they just keep on walking with this big helium balloon behind them. That was a brilliant really simple thing. She was able to have someone else filmed that whole interaction on camera. I had another student, Felix, who his observation was also really simple. People are on their phones all the time, and it means that they run, bump into things or they slow down traffic, and so he created a five-foot phone out of cardboard designed to be a giant iPhone and walked around downtown when on the subway with this huge iPhone. Just documented people's reactions, their take on that, and also the comedy of seeing him walking along with other people on their phones, but him on this giant one. I had a student, Rafael, who did most high fives in a day, and his observation was that people don't high-five all the time. They actually hardly ever do. It's mostly handshakes or more formal greetings. So, he set out to see how many people can I high-five in one limited amount of time and made a video about that. So, for the rapid ideation, when we're all finished with that, just take a photo of all of your Post-It Notes wherever they are on a wall, on the table, and you can post that to your message board. Yeah, you can see how many do you have. Do you have five done? Do you have 50 done? I really lean towards the more you can write, the better even if it's not a good idea. But this will just be helpful to get a sense of how are other people doing this, and what is, yeah, how many sticky notes? How many persons are they moving through? 6. Exercise 3: Framing (What's the Headline?): So, you've just spent 10 minutes rapid ideation, and now you have hundreds of post-it notes all around your office space or wherever you're taking this from. We already discussed these can be horrible ideas, and that's totally okay. So, no expectations about them having to be of a certain merit or quality. It's totally fine for them to be- Even as I say this, I can feel the embarrassment and the vulnerability and about to go through them all and have to share them. It'd be absurd to ask you to come up with a brilliant idea in 10 minutes. So, that's not what we're trying to do, we're just going through them. As you are going through them however, I find it's helpful to sort into three categories between like, undecided, or don't like. That helps us just an initial step to filtering down okay, which one do I want to execute on. So, I'll do that right now. I'll start by just making a star on the ones that I think could be most interesting. Some say banning technology and a cafe via posted official looking signs. Other say the idea of giving a really long name to the barista and insisting that they get it right. I like the idea of synchronizing with other cafe goers to play the one song out loud at the same time. Then I think there's something interesting in wearing VR at a cafe. So, before I actually sort these, another thought is, if something makes you smile when you're going through it, I usually tend to put that to the like category just to include that if it makes you laugh out loud. Okay. So, once we have these I'm just going to put aside all the other ones and I'm left with these four. So now, one thing that's helpful is to, and this is another thing that I've learned in advertising, is how can the your idea be said in the simplest, purest form. More commonly, how can it be describe in one sentence? If you have an idea that needs five sentences to explain, it's too complicated. For the purpose of this class and the kind of work that we're aiming to do, simplicity is key. Another tip in framing these up is trying to reframe an idea as a news headline. So, you can ask yourself what would the Huffington Post headline be? What would the Buzz Feed headline be? That's something that we'll often do and selling work to clients. But it also really helps when you're doing your own personal project, just to get a sense of is this something that feels like it might be shareworthy. So, I've gone ahead and just scrolled a couple of recent Huffington Post, BuzzFeed headlines that caught my attention. This is from, I guess, last year. What happens when 20 strangers are paired off and asked to kiss? Man changes into woman at Las Vegas Airport. New York artists debuts her own armpit 'perfume'. So, those are all sensationalized but they're definitely things that made me stop in my tracks and kind of like ha. So, I invite you to do that here. So, with these I've already got them pretty concise. This one might be giving the longest name ever to a barista. This would be something along the lines of playing a flashmob song at a cafe. Official looking sign that bans technology in a cafe. Ultimately, once you have your pile of likes, I'm going to ask you to pick one of these as your idea to move forward with. For the sake of this, I'll just pick banning technology in a cafe via posted official looking sign. I'd like you to take a photo of that and then post that to the project board so that other participants can see all the different ideas that we've come up with. 7. Exercise 4: Public Intervention: We've already gone out in public and done some observations, we've done rapid ideation, we've honed in and strategized about what idea we want to implement, and so now it's just time to go out and do it. Simple, right? So from my experience, there's going to be an initial hesitance around the idea of going out in public and executing this idea. You're going to get stares, people are going to notice you. People might be confused, or remark about you, and my guess is at this point of the class, you're going to come up with a list of reasons why it doesn't make sense for you to keep going. I've seen this in students in the past. Maybe your phone has low battery, and so it just doesn't make sense to go out or it's too late, and it'll be too dark to go and do it, the light isn't good, and that's fine. You can see those resistances as hesitations, I really invite you to push through them, and to acknowledge them, and say, "You know what, I'm going to do this anyway. I'm going to try it out. What's the worst that can happen?" I've found both through personal experience, and through feedback with former students that just the act of going out in public and doing this little disruption, even if it's as simple as I mentioned earlier walking in slow motion down a block, is really powerful, and profound. So you're going to need a buddy for this. You're gonna need a friend or colleague or someone to film you doing your culture jamming disruption, out in public. The more discrete they are the better, so that it doesn't feel like a real production. I think just kind of just hide out, and not necessarily be right up next to you, and just film whatever your intervention is. If you weren't able to land on an idea that feels like the right idea to go and execute, I invite you to just pick one and try it out. A lot of times we can get paralyzed by the need to get it right, and to have the perfect project, this class isn't about that. This is just about doing, and trying, and experimenting, and even failing. If for whatever reason you're not happy at the end result, that's okay. It's really important that you do the steps, and that you do go out in public and try this out. I think you'll be surprised with what happens, but I also think you'll learn a lot no matter what. There's a Tibor Kalman quote he says, "Everything is an experiment." I think it's a really beautiful way of living life, and of sort of looking at the world and so, I invite you to take this final prompt as an experiment. Alright, this the time we've all been waiting for. Final project, final assignment, and it's time to go out in public, and make a person in a business suit smile. 8. Final Thoughts: I find it's much more helpful to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. One group recently went around turnstile entrances that are outside the hotel lobby. They just went around in those like 30 times around, and around, and around, and eventually they got kicked out. The person came over and said, "Hey, you can't do this. You got to leave." If they had walked up to the front desk and said, "Hey, we're about to do a social experiment where we go around 30 times. Is that okay?" The answer would have been no. Yet, a side note, getting arrested helped me get my first professional creative job. So, I'll say that. This might take a couple of times, you might try it once and realize that your friend wasn't filming or that you didn't get the reactions you wanted, so don't be afraid to repeat this a couple of times. I'd give yourself an hour total between going out and filming it. It shouldn't take that long, but this doesn't have to be a masterpiece film. This isn't being evaluated or critiqued by the composition. It's more about, does the video communicate the idea of what you're doing? Then, at a future point in time, I invite you to try this process and give each step much more time and more thought to really craft an experience and an idea and an outcome that I guess has the luxury of more time and thought and effort and energy. 9. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: