Local Artists Don’t Want Your Bright Ideas to Die

  • Graphic Christopher Olson

Good ideas don’t die; they get placed in a shoebox or are relegated to the furthest corners of your laptop’s RAM.

Not content to see good ideas go to waste—or worse, end up in storage space—two Montrealers are setting up an adoption agency for abandoned ideas.

The Idea Adoption Agency and Don’t Let the Lights Go Out sprung from a conversation between friends Sherwin Tjia and Ian
Sullivan Cant—both artists with an excess of ideas and a scarcity of time and resources to realize them all.

Don’t Let the Lights Go Out is a website that features sketches, scanned notebook pages and sometimes just brief descriptions of people’s unformed ideas.

“The point is not to finally make that thing you always wanted to make, but to simply take a few minutes to say what it is,” said Cant. “It’s also important to note that it’s not about goals, it’s about ideas. So if you always wanted to write a novel, that doesn’t qualify. But if you have an idea for a novel about a time-traveling panama hat, you’re more than welcome to submit.”

“The Idea Adoption Agency was supposed to be an event that kind of launched the website,” said Tjia. After delays in setting up the site, the Agency spun off into its own artistic project, where people could auction off their idea babies to an audience of auctioneers, who sign adoption papers pledging to develop the idea into something tangential and real within two years time.

“Having adoption papers I think makes taking on someone else’s idea more official, and having a time limit to make progress on it before the idea reverts back to its original owner will hopefully light a fire under their ass,” said Tjia. “One of the reasons why the idea never went anywhere in the first place is because people procrastinate. It’s no use being adopted by someone if the idea’s just going to sit there in someone else’s custody.”

It could be an idea for a band name, a new sustainable agricultural product, or a logo for a band. It really doesn’t matter, said Tjia.
“If you had an idea on how to scam people, or make money in a hitherto unexplored way, that would be fine too,” he said.

“I hope there’s satisfaction at seeing a good idea not die in a notebook,” said Cant. “When I’ve explained the project to people, I’ve had distinctly different responses from artists and non-artists, where the non-artists—not to sound derogatory—don’t understand why you would ever give an idea away, and the artists are like, ‘Sure, I got hundreds of ’em.’”

You can submit your abandoned ideas to dontletthelightsgoout.com, or give them up for adoption at the Idea Adoption Agency on Nov. 21 at 8:30 p.m. at Casa del Popolo (4873 St. Laurent Blvd.). Admission is $5, or free if you put up an idea for adoption.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 14, published November 16, 2010.

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