Today is the one year anniversary of my first Sidewalk Face post on Instagram. I posted 317 faces in my first year. More actually as I posted a bunch from Joshua Tree, CA and Hawaii but I didn’t label them as Sidewalk Faces because they were not near my sidewalk.
When I started I did not have rules. But over the year these are the rules that emerged.
Sidewalk Face Rules
#1 – They must be good.
#2 – They must be made from materials in the immediate proximity.
#3 – They must be made quickly.
I would like them to be good. That doesn’t mean they are all good. I only post 1 out of every 3 or 4 that I make. I consider them good if they show personality and emotion, and if they are different or better than what I have already made. If I see something in the environment that I haven’t see before (such as a cracked egg ) I feel like I really must try and make a face out of it. This often supersedes rule #3. The more desperately I need to get back, the more interesting the item I will find on my way home.
I only use stuff I find around me. I do sometimes see something like a piece of dirty styrofoam or anything that could be an eye, pick it up and carry it with me looking for a good way to use it. If it is shot within walking distance of my Los Angeles home (90%+ are) then the materials came from my neighborhood. I consider it particularly great if everything comes from within a few feet but the first rule is more important than the proximity rule. Everything I shot in Hawaii was from Hawaii. Same for the desert. If I make some in another city I will only use materials from there.
I usually spend 5 to 10 minutes making each one. I’m not totally sure about that as I don’t wear a watch or keep track. But I only have so much time and the dogs only have so much patience. Occasionally I’ve made one, walked on to find an object that would make the face better and doubled back for a re-do, usually to the intense annoyance of both myself and the dogs but rule #1 is the most important rule.
Here is how it starts, I spot something of interest; a shape, a stain, an abandoned object, a butterfly. I ask myself what I could do with it, could it be a nose, a mustache, a head, a critter? Then I look for what else is needed, additional parts or a background. I usually go with my first instinct, my first choice. If I place the butterfly in the middle of that cracked pavement, I don’t place it anywhere else. I don’t want to over think my decisions because for me personally, thinking and originality are often inversely correlated. My thoughts aren’t that interesting but somehow my actions are. That’s why I do it, to surprise myself.
I am looking forward to another year of this project. Many people have sent me faces they have made and that inspires me to keep going. Hunting for new faces makes every outing an adventure. It’s never a dull day.
You can see all of my Sidewalk Faces on Instagram at: