Art I Made in Q2–2023

Chuk Moran
12 min readJan 10, 2024

April, May and June are some of the most exciting months to pump out art. During this time, I had a theme, a fair amount of existing work, and a growing number of collaborators who got pretty involved!

Tiny House Project

Single serving yogurt got very popular with one roommate, so I put together a box to organize it. I hacked this box from a fizzy water box (cool trick Renee taught me), sprayed on a base coat, and then asked Andie to decorate it with Posca markers!

Ditto for cat supplies, which include medicine and tins of cat food.

Andie is great at this stuff, it’s amazing. Hanging out with Andie means more beautiful things are around.

Relationships Board Game

Sophie and I worked on this for many months, but finally printed it during this period and played it many many times! This is a much more involved game than our usual ones, but it was very often the best activity at an event, so we did well with it!

Based on Careers. The concept was that people like hanging around talking about relationships and swapping stories. Over time, we got gameplay to be about 50% swapping stories and 50% rolling dice or whatever. We playtested with the original Careers board for a while, then I designed this mostly myself, with good feedback from many.
We kept most of the conventions from the original game, but most people did not play for points. We let them come in as “spinner players,” taking one spin on the wheel and navigating one relationship.

The story-telling came in very late in the design process, as a way to get out of penalties or get quick access to opportunities. I think it was a critical reframe to ask “what is going well about playtest sessions?” and then make more space for that.


Almost everything during this time period was work on Goblins and there was an incredible volume of it.

Goblin Ecosystems Sign

I took this photo on a bike ride around Oakland’s shoreline and thought, “why not make a version of this all about goblins?”

This project took a lot of time, mostly getting the graphics right from Midjourney. Writing for a project like this is pretty easy at this point, because I can lean into the incoherent babbling of the original poster I am copying!
This form factor was great for transportation and easy installation. Sadly, it was a bit weak to rain, due to the gap between the acrylic sheet and the wood frame.
I reuse lumber like this over and over until it’s quite small. Purple from pyramid in 2021, Plant Parenthood logo from spring 2022?

Potato Heads Evolved

In this iteration, I had learned how to carve potatoes into goblin heads better, had helpers carving with me, and then spray painted a base coat and added eyes.

Posca markers and tying them onto our wooden spoons made these truly amazing.

Sadly, they do rot after a few weeks and smell quite awful during this process. Still, we were able to trot these out to many events and replace them fairly easily. Each head probably takes about 15 minutes of focus work, with lots of dry time between carving and painting, painting and drawing, etc.

Papier Mache Possum

I had a big success making papier mache rats in 2022, based on my experience pumping out pinatas in 2018. Here I wanted to scale it up to a possum!

Andie hopped in to make the baby possums, which are also very cute. The big ones had wire to let them hang from their tails and hands, which was great. My biggest regret is that they were a bit too large for transport and their faces were not cute enough. They were only a bit cute.

Goblin Print Fabric

This was mostly Sophie’s project, using produce to print patterns onto pieces of fabric.

See the broccoli prints? We had a lot of goblin fabric, but also combined in other assets liberally.

Fabric printing was lots of fun and gave us lots of zany, produce-oriented background. We had already decided that Goblins love onions and casually expanded that to “goblins love all fruits and vegetables.”

I painted some other fabric to join the pile, but it didn’t make the cut, once we had the pineapples and shit.

Goblin Faces Evolved

These are just cardbaord structures. Easy to transport and decorate. Easy to create. But they convey “goblin” without us having anyone in greenskin.

Goblin Structure

We’ve been reusing the same lumber in new configurations, with new paint jobs, for a few years now. For the Goblin project, Gene was excited to lead the design and made us some rules. No right angles, no parallel lines, try to avoid stabbing people in the head. We did a test build in Andie’s huge Oakland backyard and experimented with the build technique at an indoor fundraiser event.

We use this lumber indoors to give us mount points everywhere.
Deployed at UnScruz, with many elements you can read more about in this retro and the Q2 2023 retro.
I cut many new shortpieces with angles for this structure. They were very helpful and we used them as “staples” to make a connection work when two boards were at crazy angles and barely touching.
Our magical little world!

Goblin Eye

Gene did most of this, a goblin faux photobooth. Go in there, click a button, light flashes, and then get your picture from the basket!

This was great and a photobooth is a good space to have in a hut! The flash wasn’t bright enough it turned out, but otherwise great! Also, note the goblin fabrics in background.
All pictures are of goblins in a photobooth. This was lovely and many people took their photo home.

Goblin Posters and Pamphlets

These were some good posters. As goblins, we didn’t really have a message, so I got to attack on all sides, claiming we weren’t real, advertising a movie that doesn’t exist, and trying to trick people into a scam on our goblin hotline.

I also made a pile of Goblin pamphlets. Andie did one about kissing that was the most popular, one of her strongest topics.

I like that these pamphlets actually have important messages in them about how you can better live your life, such as the Guide to Having Fun at Parties. I really enjoy burying thoughtful content in a thick skin of party insanity.

All goblin pamphlets can be seen here.

Goblin Skee Ball

I had this idea just before our main event in early June, and was able to throw all my energy into it. My other projects were already done! Someone mentioned you could turn a sheet of 1/8" plywood into a skeeball ramp, so I tried it!

I especially enjoyed the “goblin style” building, where we deliberately use the wrong pieces of lumber at odd angles to make something that basically does work!
We use onions for balls of course.
The ball return was a very good idea, but it turns out that people playing Skee Ball are very irresponsible and do not think to clean up after themselves.

This was a tremendous success, thought it took a lot of time to setup. I ran it at three events, and should have skipped it for the third one. It’s most worthwhile when there are lots and lots of people who will mostly just walk by and play for one minute.

More Lawn Games!

Skee ball paired well with the catapults that Dave and Michael decided to make, each on their own with no collaboration. Dave also offered that his catapult could use my skeeball setup as its target, which helped his project a bit by piggy backing on mine. Often that’s what collaboration means, get someone who can do a lot, and then have other people latch on to be dragged along!
Hook and Loop, a party classic, deployed with a bamboo stick off our chaotic structure! This worked pretty well. Also note the Goblin Window and Goblin Windowbox, where Sophie made implausible garden-adjacent scenarios for delight.

Hissing Booth

Instant party classic. On the other side it says “Kissing Booth.” A Renee project from start to finish. At most parties, especially with more ordinary people, there were almost no kisses given here. I think that such sexual expressions are reserved for higher stakes economic transactions like “marriage” and “dating,” rather than spent freely for a single joyful moment with no strings attached.

Onion Staff

I swapped out the strawberry for an onion! Also note green goblin ears.

Mash Potato Sculpting

This worked better at some events than others, but was a solid concept for produce play. Again, it mostly thrived when the party didn’t have many other good things to do. Also, kids like to get into it, but their net effect is destruction. Events with no kids got much better sculptures here.

Goblin Phone Scams

We worked on this concept as a group in the winter, but Tyler developed it into a beautiful standalone project. Here is the scammer booth, which is a call center work area with a binder providing scam scripts as well as tips and tricks.

At this party, the relatively uncultured crowd mostly liked big undeserved compliments, rather than silly scams.
The Mark phone was quite beautiful and connected by wifi, so could float around about 50 feet from the Scammer phone.

Amazing work by Tyler showing how an art crew can deliver more surprises and fun by combining dissimilar skills.

Sidequest 3000

This was actually our first concept for the Goblin project: a tavern where you can get a character and then go do quests.

Tyler’s creation let visitors pick between a few options such as “Bookish or Brawny” then get a character. With a DM, you could then play through quests for hours.

Quest for Stone Soup

Renee and Rochelle lead the push for this project, which also delivered on the original goblin concept of “meet at the tavern, then go on a quest.”

Quest ending
I made this shrine with Andie, one of several for the quest!

Lots of people completed this quest, so I think it was a success! It certainly made me excited to make my own puzzles and quests the next year.

Goblin Balloonist

This was a good idea and pretty well executed. It turns out that the trick to getting a really nice ballon is to work harder on your knots, which I didn’t want to do. It turns out I’m pretty good at making dollies out of paper and tape, though.

More Goblin Projects

Dana and Natalia put this one together, with funny produce distillations! Very nice, but build is slow on this because of the underlying plastic shelving structure.
Owl Pellet dissection. This is a pretty efficient and interesting project that works very well with kids and their parents, if you have that crowd. But it was smelly and messy. Andie set this up initially, but later Rochelle became the steward.
I also made this mini goblin art car, decorated as a ladybug.
Merch for sale! I pumped these out.
Andie project! Very cute, lots of people playing with rocks and looking at rocks really close. Very goblin.
Sophie’s crazy pseudo-art-car idea turned into a reality! This wheelbarrow was very useful to help setup the Quest and to carry around Andie in it for fun. This is one of those projects that would not work for most people, but Sophie wanted to do it, did it almost all herself, and then pushed it around herself. I helped in some build and design stages, but this thing only worked because of her.

Onion Lights

In winter, we made real onions into lights. In spring, we made fake onion light covers with only tape. I believe the formula here is based on a pinata: inflate a balloon. Cover it in plastic wrap. Cover that in tape. Now pop the balloon.

Goblin Stickers

This year, Sophie convinced me that stickers for your project might not be art, but they are a great HR benefit for your team. It helps people who need external validation and self worth from inclusion. We found that many of these stickers were used the most by people who were socially proximate, but not actually involved in the project! I made the sticker sheet here with Midjourney.

Andie designed this instant classic “Kiss Spot” which was very popular.

This is Fine Cafe Flip

Sophie has been pushing hard for “Flips” at our projects, where we clean up half of the installation a day early and add a new skin. In this case, we rethemed into a Cafe that served only “Fine” whiskey, coffee, and cookies. We even spun up a story that goblin hollow had burned down (thus the fake flames) and now all the goblins had to work in this cafe.


How to Punch a Whale

Just a totally crazy idea to take an old fake book I had designed and make it into a real one. The fake book was just a cover on a box, then the box had a toy whale inside.

The book used images from Midjourney to illustrate a a training manual for whale punching, which was entirely metaphorical about not about whales.

This book was a runaway success with many copies stolen and many people totally in awe. I was surprised because it seemed kind of incoherent and stupid. Making art is like that! Good thing I just setup a magical world and hid this on a bookshelf in the corner!

Goblin Aesthetics

A kind of manifesto for our goblin work. I wanted a hardcover copy of this book quick, so had to bind it by hand.

It turns out that ordering it printed and bound online is much cheaper than doing it yourself at a print shop! I made some mistakes and had to reprint many pages, which made the cost difference even bigger!

Pick up the books here


This is way too much work to reflect on!

Goblins was a great theme because you could really do any project and call it “Goblin so and so” and make it look a bit off-kilter and maybe throw in some green ears or root vegetables and ship it. Part of the magic here is the volume of work.

Many people commented on how much they loved the depth of Goblins, with more than just a couple cool things, but just books and games and photobooth and activities and quests and more and more and more. (In this retro I missed our spelling bee game, which didnt’ work very well, and our Talent Show performance, which was a huge success. I also didn’t mention our exquisite French accent, honed over many movie nights and entire days spent practicing it.)

I like to work on whatever project I find interesting at the time, and the goblin structure complements that very well, encouraging others to also work on their strange project, or glom onto someone else’s.

Working with a strong team is great. Converting people’s free time into art creation time is good. I used to be more of an anarchist and think that organizing other people is bad because they should decide how to spend their time. This project got me thinking that it’s possible to find a collective cause that helps people more than what they would do if left to their own devices.