Yesterday I did the first installment of my new project, For you, stranger, in which I distributed 9 hand-made, fake cupcakes around the city and left them there, for anyone to take. I had more to distribute but unfortunately I ran out of time.
Through this work, I am exploring guerrilla kindness. The action of doing something nice for someone you don’t know. I hoped that by leaving these cupcakes across the city, that someone’s day might be brightened because of it. Like all my street art projects, it also rewards those who take the time to look around them while they’re walking around the city. Mainly, however, it was simply done as a niceness to leave for anyone who would take it.
The cupcakes themselves were quite cheery, brightly coloured patty pans, purple icing, glitter and a red bead on top. Threaded through each cherry bead is a glittery paper tag, printed with a hand carved stamp.
It was interesting to design the cupcakes, as I wanted them to look like cupcakes but at the same time they needed to not look too real. If you saw what you thought was a real, uncovered cupcake sitting on a pole somewhere, would you take it? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t. So the use of purple as the colour of the icing, as well as being decorated by glitter were deliberate choices to help the cupcake look a little fake. I also bought red beads to place on top, and threaded the tag through the bead, to draw the observer’s eye to notice the fact that the cherry had a hole in it, and was therefor a bead, another clue to the fakeness of the cupcake.
One of the cupcakes I placed across the road from a cafe and I went and had a five minute break sitting in the window, watching to see what would happen.
Lots of people walked straight past it, without even noticing.
A couple of people noticed it, but went straight on walking. More people walked past without seeing it.
A man on a mobile walked past it, came back, stared at it for a bit (all while still on the phone), poked it investigatively and then walked on. A couple more people walked past without noticing.
Then a group of 3 uni students walked past. They stopped, picked it up, showed it to each other, laughed over it, put it back down and kept walking.
By this stage I needed to keep going, so I left the cafe and walked past the cupcake again, it’s little tag blowing in the wind.
I did pass a couple of the drop points later that day and found that all the cupcakes had been taken, which was nice.
On the way home, I checked twitter to find that someone had found one and responded to me “Thanks for the random little gift, it definitely put a smile on my face upon finding it!”. They’d even added a photo of their cupcake. I was so thrilled! I asked the recipient where they found it, they said “I found it at the tram stop near state library. There were so many people around, yet no one seemed to notice it sitting there!”
From my observations out the cafe window, I could tell that’s absolutely the case. Out of everyone who walks past, only a small amount noticed the cupcake, even fewer of those people stopped to investigate, fewer still picked it up and clearly even a smaller amount than that actually took it.
The Toy Society is a worldwide organisation of people who make toys and leave them out for other people to find. On the ‘about’ page of their website, they say Finders are invited, but not expected, to let The Toy Society know they have found a toy, and these notes are also posted here on the blog. But it’s not expected to hear back from finders; The Toy Society is about giving someone something and expecting absolutely nothing in return, which is a real rarity these days.” They have a response rate of around 10%, which is exactly my response rate too.
The other thing the person said to me was that they liked the idea so much they’re inspired to do something similar! That was more than I could have hoped for!
So I was very happy with this first installment, and I’ll be doing the second round of more cupcakes soon.
My advice is keep an eye on the streets around you, you never know what you might see…
Check out the photos from For you, stranger, here