Lira Luis exhibiting at a.DOT

Introducing Lira Luis, No.18 of 52 Artists exhibiting at a.DOT | Chicago Artists Resource

Chicago Women in Architecture
is pleased to announce

Lira Luis

No.18 of 52 Artists participating in this years

To get to know each of the 52 Artists better the CWA asked each of the participants a series of questions, the following are Lira's Responses...

CWA: How does architecture drive/inspire your artwork?

LL: I relate art in any form, to the statement “The mother art is architecture” by Frank Lloyd Wright. I see architecture as a celebration of space and the movement of people in it. In order to define this space, there needs to be light.

I’ve always been fascinated by light and how it hits surfaces, objects, and people. Every light is different just as the light in Manila is different from the light in Chicago. As an architect, my sensitivity to light is instinctually heightened, inspiring my work in portraiture and figure drawings. It is the contrast between light and dark that creates a sense of presence.

In the same way, every person is different. Each has certain light and dark contrasts in his/her personality that I try to capture as my pencil hits the paper. As an artist, this is what my art wants to represent--a balance of that dichotomy expressed in every line, stroke, or smudge.

CWA: What parts of your training and experience do you apply to your artwork?

LL: Architecture has trained my eyes to look at things, spaces, or buildings differently. At varying times of the day, a building will look different even if you’re viewing it from the same spot. This is why buildings need to be experienced in order to understand it.

In drawing people, I view them with the same set of eyes as the way I view buildings. Portraiture and Figure Drawings are a celebration of people.

People reveal changing moods that define their personalities at any given day. To capture distinct personalities and make those come alive on paper, I realized that I needed to experience the person in order to be able to draw him/her. This is also the reason why most of my subjects are limited to those with whom I have perceived connections.

"architects. Doing Other Things", organized by Chicago Women in Architecture is part of Chicago Artists Month 2011, the sixteenth annual celebration of Chicago's vibrant visual art community presented by the Chicago Department of Tourism and Culture. For more information, visit www.chicagoartistsmonth.org.
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Tip #7: Share the victory

The whole victory in the Curbed competition was a result of a collective effort. While I may have instigated the journey, the final outcome of earning a landslide total of 7,538 votes within 58.5 hours was not an individual effort.

I advocate a new kind of leadership that is more collaborative. A secure individual will understand the "brilliance of allowing others to share the glory by listening to a variety of ideas to find solutions" to win. Also, sharing the limelight doesn’t mean whoever started it will get less of it. Not so. Sharing credit as a leader doesn’t diminish your share of the recognition. It only enhances it. “Never pass up a chance to let your audience shine.” By sharing the limelight and potential glory, we learn to be more collaborative.

Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.

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Tip #6: Make it fun to vote for you

One of the things that make a journey fun is adding an element of excitement. You’ve got to enjoy what you are doing in order for others to get excited about voting for you. Also, I lowered my expectations for the final outcome of the Curbed competition. While I’m one to want to win, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t. This allowed me to enjoy the ride. This was the joy that I wanted those who were joining me in the ride, to experience, too.

In retrospect, there are 3 things that contributed to the fun of voting and enjoying the ride for everyone.

1. The online poll system that Curbed used was simple and easy to share with others. The online voting platform they used is the Google Chart Tools. It’s powerful, simple, and gives a visual display of voting results via pie charts.
    2. As instigator of sharing the voting link, I also adopted a laid-back attitude about the whole thing. No threats were made, if they didn’t vote for me. In fact, some of my friends ended up voting for my competitor in some rounds because they became fixated with a specific color assigned to me in previous rounds. When I was assigned a different color in subsequent rounds, the voting process seemed “automatic” to them that they just searched for the previous color (There were only 2, either red or blue) and clicked on that color. The whole time, I actually found this amusing. Even one of my close friends also committed the same error.  

    3. Make the process of voting an adventure. I did this by telling stories and by being flexible about the whole thing along the way. There was never a dull moment during the 7-day journey.
      Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.
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      Tip #5: Allow for freedom of speech

      For every point, there would be a counterpoint. This creates balance and a point of view that is truly unbiased. Expose both viewpoints. Never suppress either side.

      During the course of the tournament at Curbed, there was no shortage of “lively” discussions in the comments section. This became more “lively” when we kept on winning at every round and exceeding our previous record of votes. It was when we were winning that people have started to notice. When this happens, you’re naturally opening the doors for both praise and criticism. In every game, there is a winner and there is a loser. There’s no way around this. In the process of winning, it was evident we’ve upset some people who were also after the same thing.

      Whether you are on the winning side or on the losing side, it’s important to allow others to speak their mind or voice their opinion. Listening to another’s point of view can put a different perspective on your own.

      There are 2 types of criticism: Constructive and the other one  driven by Complaining/Whining. Constructive criticism can be used to help improve our game. The other kind of criticism wastes your time. Learn to recognize the difference.

      I’ve learned early on in life, I can’t please everybody. I told myself, "This was my game. I can't live by the rules of someone else's game."

      During the tournament, there was still the competition to be won. Focusing on other people’s perception of me will only take away my focus on the goal--winning. Also, most of the criticisms in that "lively" discussion were posted by "guests" who are hiding their true identities. I don't see it time well spent to be bothered by comments of unidentified characters. What's the point?

      If you don’t want to win, then you might as well withdraw from it because you’ll only be wasting your time. Why be in a competition if you’re not aiming to win?

      When you’re trying to accomplish something, always expect and prepare for an opposing view. However, believe that everyone, even you, deserve the chance to fly! Go, defy gravity today.

      Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.
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      Tip #4: Make the process about them, your audience, and not about you

      In the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman, it states that “Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like Mad Men.” This was my thought process during the bracketed tournament of Curbed.com.

      I remember from Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, it says, “to be interesting, you’ve got to be interested.” I dissect and quote some of the principles I used.

      This was how I made the process about my audience and not about me:
      • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
      • Become genuinely interested in other people.
      • Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
      • Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
      • Show respect for the other person's opinions. Never say "You're Wrong."
      • Begin in a friendly way.
      • Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
      • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
      • Appeal to the nobler motives.
      • Throw down a challenge.
      • Praise every improvement.
      • Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
        The best way I learned how effective these principles were, was when we started to win at every single round in the competition.

        Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.
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        Tip #3: Fully engage your audience

        To win the Curbed competition, do you really need to "vote for yourself many times in consecutive 24-hour periods"? Or; would you really want to spend "an IT staff’s billable hours (and we all know the hourly rate is expensive) to write a program that automatically votes, 7542 total"? These are some of the opinions raised during the course of the competition.

        I would think there are better uses for those times. This competition was best won by engaging supporters versus spending the time supporting one’s self with more than 1,000 computers in tow.

        If we analyze the bracket of wins, we will see that at every round, the bar is continually raised. It exceeded the previous record of votes. Notice also the consistency of the market share of votes generated. It's consistently more than 3/4 of the total votes.
         Let's look at the graphical pie charts closely.
        Round 1 started with 83.3% of 461 total votes.
        Also in Round 1, we've already set the tone on how we would play this game.
        "Also of note: architect Lira Luis, an alumna of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin school, earned the most votes overall." - Curbed

        Notice the big jump in total vote-count from Round 2 and Round 3. This was the turning point. The engaged audience has gained voting momentum.
        There's still a steady increase in total vote count.

        By the time we hit Final Round, the audience who have stayed with me in the journey have already invited others to join in the fun. The overall result is a snowball effect of 7,542 votes.

        Here’s how to develop a highly-engaged audience:

        In Twitter, some people judge your “influence” by the number of “followers” you have in your account. I’m a bit wary of the “follower-counting” culture. Number of “followers” don’t mean a thing if all they do is follow you and don’t really care to listen to what you have to say. One of the ways to test if your “followers” are truly listening is to ask them for support. If they support you, then you know they have been truly following you all along and holding on to every word you tweet. By the time you ask for help, they’re more than willing to give it to you. I found this was the case, when I first assessed the Social Media tools I have to work with as mentioned in Tip #1.

        In blogs, while some may have people commenting on the posts, the question to ask is, are those comments posted by the same people every time? If you’re not developing new commenters at each new blog post, do you really have a highly-engaged audience?

        1. Participate in Social Media groups.
        2. Chime in on discussions.
        3. Contribute insight and possible solutions that add value, not simply vent criticisms in Twitter chats.
        4. Keep your audience informed at every step of the way. 
        Here's a recap of the 7 Tips. 
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          Tip #2: Identify your audience

          The Curbed competition involved 32 architects, interior designers, or decorators who were pitted against each other in “a massive, weeklong, sports-like showdown” (as described by Curbed).

          I knew right away that the last thing I should select for an audience would be my fellow architects, interior designers, or decorators. Why? Because we all belong to the same industry. That would be like Coke asking support from Pepsi.

          I identified a target audience and categorized them in 3 levels. Level 1 will be those who will most likely vote for you with no questions asked. Level 2 will be those who will probably vote for you if you give them a good reason why. Level 3 will be those who will vote for you because your Level 1 and Level 2 audience asked them to.

          I was in a crazy situation. At first, I was alone in this journey. This video by Derek Sivers was the inspiration behind empowering my audience. It quickly turned into “mini-versions” of this "movement" that finally led into a snowball of supporters, that reached more than 7,000 at the final round.

          Here are some of my early and strongest supporters:

          Level 1. I sent out a few emails, tweets, and direct messages to some of my closest friends. These included my former alma mater, the School of the Holy Spirit in Quezon City, Philippines and my friends outside architecture. The “movement” scenario explained by Derek Sivers, was soon replicated in those people to whom I reached out. There became several lone nuts in each group, and subsequently the first followers/supporters: Reena Castro from batch '91 and Yasmin Conception from batch '92 picked up on the idea to share this with the rest of the alumnae group in Facebook. They were all game enough to vote for me, no questions asked. This was during the first few rounds.

          Level 2. After winning the first couple of rounds, I challenged my supporters to see how far we can take this thing. I gave them a reason why.

          “Regardless of whatever differences you may have, once you appear before a global audience, we automatically forget all that and bond together. While of course there are a few bad eggs rolling around, I think this is something instinctive to any Filipino, and is something to be proud of,” says Ana Alexis, who voted and campaigned from the UAE.

          Level 3. Soon, we found that my friends asked their friends to join in the fun.

          Jorjette from batch '92 shares, “I have some networks overseas which I have tapped as well by sending the voting link by email and giving it a personal touch which made the recipient see the importance of their participation and made them feel the passion I had for this journey. As such, they in turn sent out emails to their colleagues, friends, and relatives which led to a global snowball effect.”

          The last people who I let in on the fun are those in my industry. When they saw the visual diagrams of the pie chart and they saw I was winning, their natural instinct was to vote for the person who would imminently win.

          So that’s how I identified my audience, who eventually became my strongest supporters.

          Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.
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          Tip #1: Do an inventory of Social Media tools you have.

          This was the first thing I did upon learning that I was thrown into a competition by a well meaning colleague. My instinct was, this could probably be won through the power of Social Media. I immediately assessed the tools and skill set I could use.

          1. The Skill Set

          Last May, I spoke at the American Institute of Architects’ National Convention about “How to Leverage Social Technologies for a Sustainable Practice”. It was selected as a featured course in the 2011 Virtual Convention. It was also chosen as one of the “Best of New Orleans AIA National Convention”. I thought to myself, this Curbed competition could be a great opportunity to demonstrate and practice what I preached at that convention.
          Image from AIA website

          Image from AIA website

          2. The Tools

          Facebook. In Facebook, my audience is a mixed bag of friends, clients, colleagues, and family. This is also the platform where I’m most active. This account has a network of more than 1,000 friends.

          In addition to my own personal profile, my company maintains 2 business pages: “Frankly Speaking It’s The Wright Way” and “Aspen/National Geographic Environment Forum Scholar”. Each page has an audience of nearly 500 each.

          I am also part of 3 Facebook groups, 2 of which have nearly 2,000 members each, and 1 with 1.4 million members.

          Twitter. In Twitter, my audience is mostly in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industries. According to Klout, the standard of influence, I am influential about 1 topic: Architecture. My style of engagement is that of a Specialist where the content I share is industry-specific that is received by a highly-engaged audience.
          Image from Klout
           I’ll elaborate more on this later for Tip #3. Overall, I grew my following organically--meaning I didn’t start following hundreds of people immediately in order to be “followed” back. Right now, I have earned more than 1,200  “followers".
          Image from Klout

          LinkedIn. In LinkedIn, my audience is strictly business contacts. I have nearly 500 contacts in this account.

          Google+. This is a new tool for me and I’m still discovering and learning as I go. I’m not nearly as active in GPlus as I am in Facebook, simply because most of the audience I interact with on a regular basis have not caught up with this new kid on the block.

          So there you have it. These are the tools I leveraged during the Curbed competition.

          Here's a recap of the 7 Tips.
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          7 Tips on Winning Hottest Architect Competition with 7K Votes

          Early this week, Curbed National, a website focusing on interior design, decor, and real estate news located in the country’s vibrant urban centers, announced:
          “It’s Official: Lira Luis is Hottest Designer/Architect of 2011!”
          (It does look like there's dandruff on my hair, but really, it was snowing outside when my photographer Chris Vaughn took this. Ask my stylist Lillian. She was there. Now don't I sound defensive, do I?) Image from Curbed.com
          Lira Luis' 7,538-to-Lindsey Coral Harper's 2,307
          Whoa, how did that happen? Some probably asked. I asked myself the same question.

          At the commencement of the tournament a week earlier, I had just finished a strategy meeting with my business coach. As I was skimming through the Tweets of the day, I saw one of my Twitter friends mention about voting for me in a contest. I wondered what it was and so clicked on the link. I nearly choked on my lunch when I saw that I was one of the 32 nominees at Curbed’s Hottest competition. It turns out, a well-meaning colleague had nominated me but failed to inform me quickly enough before I picked up the news via Social Media. I read who else was in it. Right off the bat, I recognized some of my competitors.

          Tom Kundig -  I have heard of his firm, Olson Kundig Architects from a colleague. He said their work is one of the most interesting in Seattle. I’ve been following their work ever since.
          Bjarke Ingels - I met him personally in Chicago during an Architecture & Design Film Festival earlier this year.
          Neil Denari - His name and his work have often been mentioned by industry colleagues. I happen to like some of his work too.
          David Bromstad - I may have seen him on an episode of the show HGTV Design Star on HGTV cable network.

          My theory: Social Media can even out the playing field for all 32 contestants.

          Here are 7 tips that made it happen:

          1. Do an inventory of Social Media tools you have.
          2. Identify your audience. Categorize them in 3 levels. Level 1 will be those who will most likely vote for you with no questions asked. Level 2 will be those who will probably vote for you if you give them a good reason why. Level 3 will be those who will vote for you because your Level 1 and 2 audience asked them to.
          3. Fully engage your audience.
          4. Make the process about them, your audience, and not about you.
          5. Allow for freedom of speech. Learn how to handle and accept criticism.
          6. Make it fun to vote for you.
          7. Share the victory (and possibly) the limelight with your audience.
          Beginning on Labor Day Monday, with subsequent blog posts the following days, spread out in 7 days, I’ll illustrate in detail, with matching graphics, how the process led to a landslide victory and how it has helped my business now. Still think engaging in Social Media is a waste of time? Follow my posts next week and see for yourself.
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