Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Element of Surprise

This past weekend, my mother and I each received our Heather Ross surprise packages. Heather Ross, illustrator and fabric designer supreme, does a studio sale each year. This year, she asked shoppers to write a short paragraph about themselves, which fabric patterns they like, and what they might hope to get from the sale. Shoppers then purchased a box size, ranging from small to extra large. Heather explained that the sale would essentially be a surprise. She'd curate the boxes for each individual, based on what was shared in the letter.

This process took a while, and I was filled with anticipation. I essentially paid to be surprised. I spent time wondering about what might be in the package. Would I get fabric or clothing or books or something completely unexpected? JJ Abrams talks about a similar experience in his Ted Talk, regarding a Mystery Box purchased from a magic store as a child. When you don't know what to expect, the possibilitities are endless.

Turns out, the Heather Ross packages were pretty fabulous. My mother and I shared our love for Heather's mermaid prints in our letters, and she delivered with matching mermaid tee shirts and some swatches of fabric.

This experience reminded me of childhood. So much of the world is a surprise and a mystery to a child. This comes along with that feeling of excitement and happy anticipation, but it can also be a little scary. Not knowing what to expect or anticipate could cause anxiety. It makes me wonder how we can curate little boxes of excitement and surprise for young people, while addressing their uncertainty and possible anxiety.

How do you create surprise or mystery for young people in your work?

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