Quality pencils

I’m sharpening a pencil for today’s Layer Tennis match.

A man works on a laptop

Post note: May 1, 2021 – Twelve years later and I reflect on not just this match, but the concept of remote collaboration.

Layer Tennis was a wonderful moment in time. I feel extremely lucky to have participated – and it certainly sharpened my skills under pressure.

Let’s take a step back. What is Layer Tennis? Organized by Coudal Partners, it was described as:

Two competitors swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post that to the site live. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action as it happens.

There was a an online group of folks on Twitter providing feedback and ultimately casting a vote for a winner.

As an observer, it was a fantastic way to take a break from a Friday and watch and comment on something happening in real time.

As a participant it was a stressful thrill. (Speaking for myself.)

But this experience informs my day-to-day these many years later.

Certain things work better with many voices. Nearly every project I’m a part of now is a collaboration. And though the methods have evolved, it all gets back to putting something out there, getting feedback and adjusting.

I think the spirit of Layer Tennis lives on in many new ways. Working in teams across many disciplines. Posting a shot on Dribbble to elicit feedback. Making a Duet or reply on TikTok. Opening up a live stream to show one’s process… It’s all happening in new and evolved ways. In fact, my challenger (who won this match) – Draplin, often ends the week with an open stream on Friday to talk process and show how the sausage is made.

Whenever I get too stuck on whatever sadness is circulating, I realize that steady goodness is also happening.

It’s something to hold dear.

Semi-related, my last volley on this Layer Tennis match was a video. It doesn’t show up in the archives, but here it is for giggles: