Tips & Tricks Guide

High Five Gauntlet envisioned by The Council of Suggestions

High Five Gauntlet envisioned by The Council of Suggestions

Thank you for considering submitting a project for FIGMENT Chicago 2013 at the Garfield Park Conservatory! The information below is intended to guide you through the conception, proposal, construction, installation, maintenance, and removal of your FIGMENT project.


This document is by no means definitive, but is rather an attempt to consolidate and capture knowledge gained from design and communication pitfalls in years past. This document is not meant to replace communication from your curator. Please read and respond to all emails from your curator by the requested deadline. If you have a question about submitting your project to FIGMENT or what is possible at The Garfield Park Conservatory, please review the document and if, after reviewing this information, you still have a question, please email


FIGMENT is a forum for the creation and display of participatory, interactive art by emerging artists across disciplines. FIGMENT began in July 2007 as a free, one-day event on Governors Island in New York Harbor with over 2,600 participants. Each year since, FIGMENT has grown significantly in all dimensions—exhibitions, participants, volunteers, locations, duration, fundraising, and public support. In 2012 the FIGMENT event on Governors Island had nearly 25,000 participants, over 400 works of interactive art, and over 300 volunteers!

FIGMENT Project, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, created and produced by a coalition of volunteers. FIGMENT is produced in partnership with the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, and with the support of the Bold Urban Renaissance Network.

FIGMENT Chicago 2013 will take place August 10th & 11th at the Garfield Park Conservatory.


FIGMENT is guided by 11 principles:

Transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play.

FIGMENT seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We will not substitute consumption for experience.

Anyone may be a part of FIGMENT; no prerequisites exist for participation except willingness to work and play. We welcome and respect the stranger.

Each individual and collaborating group has unique qualities, and through self-expression can offer a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of others.

FIGMENT encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

FIGMENT is devoted to acts of gift giving and volunteering. FIGMENT itself is a gift from volunteer artists and event staff, who hope that each participant brings an attitude of giving. Giving does not imply a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

We seek to create an environment ripe for each individual to achieve personal artistic transformation… but the creation of such an environment can be done only through creative cooperation and collaboration.

Each participant in FIGMENT is responsible for creating a civil environment for all other participants. We endeavor to produce this event in a way that fosters a civil society and that is socially responsible.

We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves to leave each place in a better state than we found it.

Too often the limit for creative expression is the barrier between our inner selves and the selves that we present to the world. By breaking down that barrier, we can gain a profound appreciation for the opportunities that lie in each time and place.

We believe it is important to remind ourselves where we come from, and to appreciate what has been given to us to get us to where we are. We are not entitled to anything, and approach our relations to others from a place of gratitude for their efforts.


Project proposal submissions open: By April 30, 2013

Project proposal submissions deadline: July 6, 2013 (11:59pm CT)

Notification of acceptance/rejection/how to fine tune your project: starting May 11, 2013

Installation Starts: 10AM Friday, August 9, 2013

Installation must be completed: by noon Saturday, August 10, 2013

FIGMENT weekend: August 10-11, 2013

Installation Removal begins: 6PM Sunday, August 11, 2013 (or 8PM Saturday for one-day projects)

Installation Removal must be completed: 9PM Sunday, August 11, 2013

 Project Pointers and Guidelines – FIGMENT Chicago and The Garfield Park Conservatory

Limited electricity is available for installation and de-installation. Keep in mind that the closest outlet to your project may be over 100 feet away. Plan accordingly and bring your own extension cords and all tools necessary for install and removal of your piece.
Power during the weekend is available for selected FIGMENT artists who submit a project via our website by March 30, 2012 and also coordinate with a curatorial contact. If you are not able to work with us to meet our deadlines, please plan to operate without power during FIGMENT. These restrictions exist so that we do not blow out any of the power systems at facilities in The Garfield Park Conservatory, depriving everyone of electricity.

Selling things at FIGMENT
FIGMENT is an entirely free and non-commercial event in which everyone volunteers their time and effort to participate… the organizers, the artists, the participants. One of the things that FIGMENT tries to do is to create an area in which interactions between people are not mediated by commercial transactions of any kind. Everything at FIGMENT is free, and there is no advertising, nothing for sale, and no one insisting that you have to give a donation to participate. If people want to give a donation to help make FIGMENT happen, they can do so at a few tasteful donation boxes. The idea here is that so many of our interactions with other people are based on commerce. At FIGMENT, everything that we do is a gift, is done for the pleasure of doing it and sharing it with other people. If that isn’t enough of a motivation for you, FIGMENT may not be the right venue for you.

Projects using water
There may be limited access to running water for projects at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Be sure to specify your water needs as clearly as possible when submitting your project, and your curatorial contact will discuss the possibilities with you further upon acceptance.

Balloons and Flying things
Without getting the FAA involved, you can go up to 149′, no more. With FAA permission, it’s not a big deal to go up to 500′. See here for more info:

Cooking and Food
FIGMENT Chicago welcomes food art projects, performances, and privately transported picnics! As long as nothing is being bought and sold, it is legal to participate in the free distribution of food at The Garfield Park Conservatory.

At this point there is an exciting possibility that FIGMENT Chicago will be able to include fire-based projects. We encourage such submissions at this point, but unfortunately cannot guarantee that all fire projects will be possible.

Transporting Your Project

Think modular design. It is important to consider the transport and final assembly of your project in the design. It is ideal to have practically ALL of the major construction completed before bringing it to the site. Projects should be created in pieces that are movable by a maximum of 4 people. Be sure to coordinate a crew for your installation and de-installation. If it takes more than 4 people to move your completed project we strongly recommend you section your project into multiple sections so it is easier to install, de-install and move should the need arise.

Suggested Project Materials & Resources

General Material Suggestions:

Metal and fiber glass
These are suitable materials for holding up to the elements.

Glass and Plexiglas
Glass and unframed or unsupported Plexiglas are not suitable for FIGMENT, because when these break they leave behind dangerous shards.

Plants and Living Materials
Please note that there is limited access to both (outdoor) shade and running water on the site. Please be sure to inform your curatorial contact of any water and/or shade needs.

Wood and wood-like materials
Consider using a few extra coats of paint to increasing the durability of wood materials in your project. For durability reasons FIGMENT has determined that for the construction of your project to use:

- A minimum of 1/2″ thick weather-treated plywood
- 3/4 inch or 1″ if you are using oriented strand board (OSB).
- Under no circumstances should you use medium density fiberboard (MDF) as it has consistently demonstrated an inability to withstand the southern atmosphere.
- Pressure treated wood is ideal and consider sealing the wood with 2 coats of deck paint.
- Lastly, keep in mind the weight of each of your projects sections.

If you cannot move a section with 4 or less people you will encounter challenges during install, de-install and during your maintenance visits. We strongly recommend your section your project into multiple sections so it is easier to install, de-install and move should the need arise.

Small and or moving parts are likely to fall off and/or need constant repair. Anything shiny and pretty that can be pried off will be.

Consider a child’s mentality and curiosity. Avoid sharp-moving parts, or pointy things that stick up even if it seems obvious that they should not be touched. FIGMENT Weekend should be fun, and a trip to the ER is never fun.

This is not a traditional art event. When you design a piece for FIGMENT Weekend imagine that it will be climbed on by 15 children at a time, kicked, walked on, etc — for 8 hours a day, for 3 consecutive days. If it rains, there is limited shelter, and water will gather in low-lying areas. Keeping that in mind, build for the apocalypse and consider a modular design for ease of transport and installation and de-installation. Although other FIGMENT weekends have not had acts of intentional vandalism, anything that moves, is shiny or removable will be played with and pulled on in ways you did not imagine.


Check out these sites for information about funding opportunities and your stay in Chicago:

Illinois Arts Council:

Chicago Artists Resource:

Chicago Cultural Grants:

Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau:

Things You Will Need to Bring to The Garfield Park Conservatory

- Smiles, patience and a cooperative attitude. Be willing to offer a hand to other artists through the install and de-install process.
- Water, as there is limited drinking water on site.
- Food
- A crew of helpers
- 100+ ft. of electrical cord (if bringing corded power tools)
- Tools
- Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
- Flashlight/headlamp
- Good walking shoes

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where is FIGMENT Chicago?

FIGMENT Chicago is Saturday, August 10th, 2013 from 12 PM until 8PM and Sunday, August 11, 2013 from 12PM until 6PM at the Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624). For directions to the Conservatory, visit

 Who can submit a project to FIGMENT?

Anyone can submit a project to FIGMENT! Adults, children, professional artists or those looking to create their first piece! Anyone who can bring their project to FIGMENT by their own means and de-install it when the event is over is welcome to submit.

What can content be?
In the past, FIGMENT has hosted a wide variety of artistic endeavors — Street theater, costuming, sculpture, inflatable art, dance, performance art, installations, social experiments, mobile art, workshops, games, community building projects, arts & crafts, sound art, bands & DJs, lectures & seminars on themes of participatory art & culture, and anything else you can imagine! Please do remember that FIGMENT is an event for everyone when deciding on subject matter for your project.
Installations, performances, activities, or other projects that can be set up outdoors are welcome. We may have stages available for performances, and certain parts of The Garfield Park Conservatory provide suitable stage-like platforms. Indoor space is available for certain projects. You can set up your own area or host a scheduled event or performance. If you have an idea for FIGMENT and have questions about whether it’s plausible, don’t hesitate to get in touch. No matter what you do, the one requirement is that it somehow engages audience participation. Just bring it to FIGMENT and try it out!

What are the deadlines?
Key projects will be given placement on a rolling basis. If you have a large project or a project that requires specific placement or infrastructure, please submit it as soon as possible so that we can accommodate it. The final deadline for project submission is July 6, 2013.

What about funding?
FIGMENT is a community-based event organized and run by volunteers. Its success is dependent on community participation. FIGMENT does NOT provide funding for the production, transportation, or insurance of works to, at, or from the site. FIGMENT encourages artists to apply for outside grants and fundraise for your project within your personal capacity. Please note that no corporate sponsorship (including logos and credit lines) is permitted at the event. In addition, nothing may be sold at the event.

When exactly can I install my project, and when must it be removed it from the site?

You must make arrangements in advance with your curator (contact information provided upon project acceptance) regarding installation, tear down, or other material delivery matters.

In general, we expect artists to set up their projects the day before the event (August 9th) and remove their projects after the event is over (after 6pm, August 11th)–not during the event itself.

Projects must be completely removed by 9pm August 11. If you cannot meet this guideline, it is especially important to coordinate a plan with your curator.


If you would like to DJ at FIGMENT, we would recommend getting together with friends to propose a project as a collective, and making your DJ stage part of the proposal. Previous FIGMENT events have had collectives including Disorient, Fairytale Collective, and Wax, all of which included DJs as part of their themed area. If you want to propose a project that involves multiple DJs, you will be responsible for curating the group during FIGMENT Weekend.

Please contact for more information on how to curate a DJ area.

Can I distribute fliers for my band/art project?
Please do not distribute fliers or printed materials at FIGMENT. We are trying to provide as waste-free an event as possible.

Can I sell my CD?
We kindly ask that you do not sell anything – including CDs – at FIGMENT. FIGMENT is an entirely free and non-commercial event in which everyone volunteers their time and effort to participate… the organizers, the artists, the participants. Interactions between people are not mediated by commercial transactions of any kind. Everything at FIGMENT is free, and there is no advertising, nothing for sale, and no one insisting that you have to give a donation to participate. We understand that many of you make your livelihoods by selling your art and we support you – FIGMENT is just not the time or place.

Can I collect email addresses for my mailing list?
Yes, you may collect addresses, but we ask that you manage the list and make it clear to participants that they are signing up for your list and not the FIGMENT list. Please do not leave unattended clipboards around the site; keep the list with you so that you can get participants excited about your project.

Can I bring my car?
It is encouraged to drive to the event due to limited alternate transportation needs. Street parking will be available nearby.

There are some supplies that I need. Can I get them from FIGMENT?
FIGMENT promotes self reliance, so please make every effort to bring all the supplies that you need for your project. As an all volunteer event, we give our time and passion to the event, but it’s a bit more challenging to buy things. FIGMENT can help direct you to free, donated and low cost resources from which to source materials. Please get in touch with us for more information:

What if I did not submit a project to FIGMENT but I still want to bring it?
We encourage you to bring projects that you can carry into the site on foot. Projects will not be on our map or schedule, but FIGMENT is about serendipity and discovery so that’s quite all right. Unregistered projects will not have access to power, cannot be stored overnight and cannot be installed in a building or on any structure on the site. Please take your portable project with you when you leave the site and leave no trace.

How do I get there?

For directions to the Conservatory, visit
Please visit for more tips and tricks for getting around Chicago.

Can I put stakes down or make holes in the ground?

In general, stakes or other things that make holes in the ground are prohibited in Garfield Park. If you need help coming up with alternatives to anchor your installation or tent, or if you feel there is no other option than to stake, please consult your curator.

 Can I bring tables and chairs?

Yes. Tables/chairs/shade tents/grills/ gargantuan coolers/ couches/kiddie pools are strongly encouraged.

Q: Can we hang anything (sign, art, string, etc.) from a tree?
A: In general, you may not tie anything to trees in Garfield Park. Remember, the Conservatory is focused on conservation! However, if you think you need to tie something to a tree, consult your curator to investigate the possibility of doing so without harming the tree.

Compressed Gas

Q: Can I bring compressed gas to the site?
A: Please contact your curator if any projects involve compressed gas

Animals are not allowed on the site – unless it’s a seeing eye dog or there’s some other legitimate medical reason for you to bring any animal to the site.