Interactive. Playful. Neighbors sharing stories. 100 disposable cameras will be hidden throughout Wicker Park Bucktown this summer. Follow us on Twitter to get clues. Find one, tell us a story through photographs, mail it back. We'll be sharing your stories through our website and at our installation at 1251 N. Milwaukee Ave.

takemwithyou is one of 10 finalists for Chicago's largest art prize, "Make Believe." Please vote for this project and help us win the grand prize! Follow Steph and Jared on Twitter.


A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote, tweeted or Facebooked a link, or showed their support. We really, really appreciate it. Off to the next project! :)

The destruction of takemewithyou

What I learned from making takemewithyou

This project is actually coming to a close. I wonder what has happened to the remaining 60 or so cameras that we never got back. Hm.

Event organizer extraordinaire Shannon Downey (really, she’s incredible.) asked all the artists to put together a “what we’ve learned” writeup for her. I just decided to write a blog because it’s a lot more fun this way.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

You can do anything you put your mind to
In case you didn’t know, this is the very first real “art thing” that I’ve done. It all began because I got kind of restless at work, and needed a creative outlet. So I started the 30-Day Creativity project, where made myself do one creative thing every day. (On Day 11, I made the HoppyCow blog) Once I finished the project, I wondered, “What’s next?” That’s when @wpbmakebelieve tweeted @redeyechicago one day about the ‘Make Believe’ competition. It seemed crazy, but I talked to Jared about it, and he said, “Why not?” So began the brainstorming. I really wanted to do something that would engage the entire community and also be digital, so that it could be enjoyed by people who didn’t live in Wicker Park.  For a while we kicked around ideas for touch screens and projection art. But then we decided to go analog. takemewithyou was born. Thank you so much to WPBMakeBelieve, because I did not actually believe that I could do art until they encouraged me. Now I really do think you can do anything you put your mind to. 

Um, I need to be organized
I’ve learned so much about doing a large scale art project — from getting materials, assembling camera kits, phone calls and emails to store managers, weekly treks to Wicker Park to drop off cameras, coordinating clues, weekly treks to downtown to drop off and pick up cameras, weekly “computer time” to upload photos and blog, hours upon hours in the store adding to the installation — you need to be organized and come up with a game plan. I didn’t have one. I just fulfilled the needs as they came up, but I really should’ve come up with a plan, a system, for the entire multi-step process.

The folks in Wicker Park are awesome
I spent so much time in Wicker Park, working with store owners, dropping off cameras, running into people, watching people pick up cameras, installing in the storefront, buying materials, etc. Everyone was incredibly kind, including the storeowners who were actually excited that I would be stashing cameras at their stores. I paced up and down the streets of the neighborhood, looking for places to stash cameras. And the one time I saw people “find” one… I had to stop myself from jumping up and down with glee. My last installation day a few weeks back, people actually stopped by the storefront to chat with me. They would tell me that they had heard about the project. While I was working in the store, I overheard one person telling a group of people about my project — no prompting! People have also emailed me and tweeted me, saying that they walk by the store all the time and love it. Man, that part is just so amazing.

There are some really cool artists in Chicago!
While I’ve always loved art, Make Believe really hooked me into the artist community in Chicago. I started seeing them on Twitter, people Facebook-friended me, I saw them at events, I ran into them at the store, or while I was running around Wicker Park. I’ve gained a whole new level of respect for community artists — they are doing some great stuff out there, stuff that moves people in a totally local, human way. 

Friends are awesome
The support and kindness people have extended toward me (all while I spam them with takemewithyou updates) has been absolutely incredible. I am so thankful that I have such wonderful friends.

Don’t randomly move to Boston in the middle of the art project
That really threw a kink into things. 

Shannon also asked us to round up a link of press, or people who had written about our project. Here’s the list:

CBS Chicago: 100 Chicagoans’ Lives Exposed In Photo Exhibit

Marie Claire: Editor’s Choice blog

Gapers Block: Make Believe this Summer

TimeOut Chicago: Wicker Park gets pop-up art

Our Urban Times: Make believe, reflect and vote

The Puzzler: takemewithyou, a collaborative art project

MajorDojo: Take Me With You

WindyCitizen: takemewithyou (we were #1 on their homepage!)

iShootRockstars: What’s going on in the kitchen?

StilBlog: takemewithyou

Chicago Pipeline: In ‘Make Believe,’ Vacant Storefronts Offer More than Just Space

You’re A Serious Lady: photo

Stuff That Means Nothing: photo

WestNorth: Crossing The Line

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of the project. You are incredible. 

I flew into Chicago this weekend and spent most of Saturday finishing the installation and hanging about 300 more photographs. By the time I was finished with the exhausting and repetitive exercise, I stood back, looked up, and was really proud. I can’t believe I spent the summer hiding cameras for strangers to find. I can’t believe the strangers actually mailed them back. And I can’t believe that there are around 700 photographs hanging in the store. I shot a quick video with my digital camera, so check it out!

It took hours, days and weeks to put together the camera kits, hide the cameras, coordinate with store owners, build a website, upload photos, tweet out clues, develop the film and build the actual installation. If you enjoyed the project, please take a second and vote. It could help us win $5,500, which could fund even more cool projects in the future. 

Our official project website.

The Last 6 Cameras

When I first started this project, I said I would be happy if I got 20 cameras back. At this point, I’ve received a total of 33 cameras. I’m very grateful that so many of the people who found the cameras actually decided to participate in the project! Thank you :)

Now let’s take a look at the last 6 rolls…

Camera #11. See the full roll here.

Camera #33: See the full roll here

Camera #78: See the full roll here. 

Camera #85: See the full roll here

Camera #87: See the full roll here. 

Camera #89: See the full roll here. 

Love the project? Don’t forget to vote for us and help us win $5,500 so we can do more cool projects. Thank you :)

Dropped off more cameras yesterday! I can’t believe how many I’m still receiving in the mail. Stay tuned for uploads on Monday. I’m also on my way back to Chicago to hang more images in the installation!

Dropped off more cameras yesterday! I can’t believe how many I’m still receiving in the mail. Stay tuned for uploads on Monday. I’m also on my way back to Chicago to hang more images in the installation!

10 more cameras and stories to look at!

I’m so excited to share 10 more cameras with you! It is unbelievably fun to receive these images and see the stories unfold on each roll. 

If you love this project, please vote for us! We’ve worked really hard on it, and would love to win $5,500. All it takes is a few seconds and an email address. 

Now onto the cameras!

Camera 98: This image is absolutely amazing. I love how quirky and disconcerting it is — and it’s indicative of the entire roll, which is beautifully done. It looks at life through unusual angles. Check out the complete roll. 

Camera 99: The colors of this photo are awesome, as are the expressions. Really fun set of images by a group of friends here, especially one where there’s a giant cat (really giant) in the middle of the frame. Check out the complete roll

Camera 45: Dude on a swing! Loads of expressions and closeups in this set, the photographer captured the hands, feet and faces of his/her friends. The set of images of this guy on a swing are hilarious. Check out the complete roll

Camera 88: Lunch break! This photographer took us on a walk around the city, and then stopped for lunch. Check out the complete roll

Camera 82: This picture was taken by a 5-year-old. Well, I’m just guessing, but a family works together to tell us a story with this camera. The photos are adorable, and I especially love this one, which shows mom and dad. Check out the complete roll

Camera 5: In this set, the photographer did not reveal her identity except for this one shot in the side mirror of a bike. Another cool thing — they showed us their afternoon hike! Check out the complete roll

Camera Unknown: Textures, colors and lights dominate this pretty set of pictures. Plays on focus and angles make it a unique set to look at. Check out the complete roll

Camera 13: I love the expression on this man’s face — part surprise, part indifference. This roll of film is utterly mysterious and interesting. Check out the complete roll

Camera 7: This candid is hilarious. The photographer showed us a fun night out with his friends. Check out the complete roll

Camera 27: Lollapalooza! And a lot of cats (later in the roll). Check out the complete roll. 

We’ve gotten nearly 20 cameras back — and the store is filling up with photos!