I started Stay Late and Draw to be a creative leader and to add to the culture of innovation at Microsoft. A wide range of Microsoft employees such as animators from Xbox and Developers from Office (and every thing in between) meet every other Wednesday night.
This event has also inspired a collaboration with the Microsoft Fresh Paint team who provides the group with touch devices loaded with the next version of Fresh Paint for people to try out.
Article published at Microsoft about Stay Late and Draw
Not Just for Designers
by Joyce Simons
SLAD, the newest member of The Garage's regularly scheduled, after-hours event trifecta, was the brainchild of User Experience Designer Josh Sternberg, who designs Microsoft support experiences. "It's a chance for Microsoft employees from any discipline to get together and explore creativity through drawing," he said. "Drawing is a huge part of the Microsoft culture. We draw our ideas on whiteboards every day. Part of Scenario Focused Engineering is drawing storyboards and wireframes. Most people who say they can't draw don't draw. If you love something and do it all the time, you'll probably get good at it in some way that you and others can appreciate."
If the name Josh Sternberg rings a bell, you might remember him from his work on TRAX, the big winner at Startup Weekend this past January. "I got involved in The Garage at Startup Weekend. Then we continued working on TRAX and I went to a SLAC and ended up chatting a lot with Ben Gilbert. I got the idea of doing SLAD based on how cool I thought SLAB and SLAC were. Ben liked the idea and helped me work out some of the details. I just made it happen," he said. Josh organized and hosted the first SLAD in The Garage on May 22nd. "The real inspiration and the great part of The Garage is that it established this culture of innovation, and I wanted to add to it by adding an art and design element and hopefully bringing in all kinds of different people. And that's exactly what we got—everything from Xbox animators to Office developers. We got about 20 people but there was that level of diversity that made it really interesting. No one felt any pressure or embarrassment."
Josh arranged for a live model, named Danielle Wilson, to pose during the four-hour event. "It's really great to have a model for people to draw inspiration, focus, or of course literally draw, however people can draw whatever they want," he said. "One guy worked on a 3D model of an island that had nothing to do with the live model. He just loved being in that atmosphere. The model is part of it. The music in the background is part of it. The fact that people are standing around drawing is the biggest part of it and adds to the atmosphere that people get really excited about. It's important to have a model to add to the atmosphere. It adds a whole different energy than if we were all looking at a big flower pot. It's a life force and it's a big part of this discipline."
But back to the original question: isn't SLAD really just for designers? "Absolutely not," said Josh. "It's great for designers but some of the people who enjoyed it most were PMs and developers. Anyone can do it. Drawing can help all the ways you communicate. Communication is drawing from the world and articulating it with ideas and thoughts through various forms of expression. Sharpening those skills will help advance anyone's career. It also taps into people's creativity and that will spur innovation both in the culture and in the individuals."