Tiana Dueck's profile

Volvox Observer - Case Study

Amidst the solitude brought on by the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, I found a glimmer of inspiration to foster a creative community online. Creative people needed a welcoming space, online and eventually offline, to share and explore independent art, and to find a thoughtful community. In turn, Volvox Vault was realized on 04/29/20, and later renamed to Volvox Observer.
My Role
I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief at Volvox Vault. I facilitate the community on our website, through our newsletter, direct emails, and other digital and printed mediums. I am the editorial / graphic designer for our printed work. I also do videography / photography, write all of our communications copy, design / develop the website, and more. As we grow I will bring more people on to take over some responsibilities, with myself as Creative Director. At the moment I work with Emily Biggs (quarterly horoscopes), Bea Douaihy (editor), Aidan Mcteague (editor), and Ari Lotter (web development) regularly. When it is safe, I plan to host events for magazine launches, and community or Volvox releases. My goal with Volvox Vault is to facilitate a space for artists to showcase their work, share guidance, and find compatible collaborators, while at the same time, as a community project I allow it to become whatever it needs to be.
Volvox Vault Mediums

Website: The website is the most accessible and interactive Volvox Vault platform. People can find out how to submit/pitch, explore artists who have been featured, read articles, purchase magazines, newspapers, and merchandise; chat, and put out calls for collaboration.

Magazine: Our magazine includes pieces about various creative topics and mediums. One thing they all have in common is a reflective feeling, which makes for a meditative reading experience. Compared to screens, print has a more present and escapist atmosphere. The perfect place to read our magazine is probably on a warm rocky beach, where there is no service.

Newspaper: Volvox Vault prioritizes staying in touch with real people and their projects. The newspaper is received in the mail once every quarter, and features community updates. Like how to listen to Emma’s new album, or where you can watch Vincent’s new film. One spread from each newspaper doubles as a poster, with art submitted by the community.

Newsletter: An easy and free way to stay in touch frequently. Featuring news about releases, community updates, and more. Coded with HTML and CSS.

Apparel: Tote bags and T-shirts. With a twist: they must have been crafted partially by hand. The
tote bags are hand painted and embroidered by myself, the t-shirts are spray painted with stencils cut my hand.
The logo for Volvox Vault is inspired by a Volvox: a type of algae that lives in colonies. A Volvox basically is a colony, and would not exist without its colonies of other Volvox. Similar to how as artists and human beings, we need a dependable community to connect with. Who we can rely on for support and collaboration. I needed the logo to reflect this. Upon looking for inspiration, I found these diagrams of Volvox colonies:
I took inspiration from the cytoplasmic bridges (3) and their cell connections (5/6), to create our logo in Adobe Illustrator. Metaphorically, the cells represent individual Volvox community members, and the bridges represent their connection through Volvox Vault (VV globe in the centre), and even their continued connection outside of this community. We are an aggregate of unique, multifaceted creatives.
The website is built to grow. New content is always being posted: artist profiles, calls for collaboration, articles, magazine releases, so on. It is built with exploration in mind. We encourage users to click around, explore, and hang out at the pond.
The Colony
We keep track of every contributor by logging them on the colony page.
Newsletter Update
Volvox Vault has released three magazine issues. Identity, Proximity, and Aggregate. With the themes, I started from inwards, and gradually moved outwards. Identity asks: Who are you today? Proximity: Who is in your space? Aggregate: Who are we all as a whole? I intended for readers to ground themselves in this community before extending outwards to each other. It helps to reflect on yourself before communicating with others. The magazines are curated collections of solo and collaborative independent creative work. There is an emphasis on introspection, appreciating your surroundings, and meditating on togetherness.
The newspaper is a community hub. Mostly featuring brief updates on international creative projects. Aside from a photo, title, and description, the only requirement for updates featured in the newspaper is that they must come from a genuine place. We are also receptive to featuring articles and interviews. I was wondering: Where can I find a niche printed hub to learn more about independent creative projects? I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for, so I created it. The newspaper is short, only four pages long. The front and back feature written content on various projects and collaborative opportunities. The inside spread acts as a poster, featuring a photo/illustration by a community member. Our first issue released in April 2021.
The newsletter keeps our community in the loop with frequent updates. We use the newsletter to remind subscribers of opportunities available to them, while maintaining a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. It is coded in HTML and CSS. You can sign up for the newsletter here: http://volvoxvault.com/support/
We prioritize a do-it-yourself lifestyle. From the website to the apparel. With the Proximity issue, I sold hand painted and embroidered tote bags. I used sliced in half apples as stamps with green fabric paint, and complimentary red embroidery thread into small decorative crosses. The apple in the centre has yellow stitching through it, as if the apple is glowing from within.
We also sell a spray painted T-shirt, using hand cut stencils made with 5mm plastic sheets. Featuring a cluster of leaves. Each leaf from a unique tree, recognizing the diversity in our unity.
Volvox Vault is constantly growing.
Hardly a year old, we have many goals for the future of our community...

Host more creative projects
Discover more ways to communicate as a community

For now, we are content with how far we have come, and approach each new project with a present mind. One step at a time!
Volvox Observer - Case Study