Portray.It (originally developed under the working title We the People) revolutionizes the concept of self-portraiture for the visualization age. This interactive, multi-Portrayit LOGO Sydney 12-7-12platform project engages participants in the creation of dynamic, layered self-portraits. This creative process allows a single person or a whole community to draw a map representing experience, interests, values, and more. Portraits are personal and intuitive, and record taste, memory, peeves, hopes, and each participant’s spur of the moment interests, in a rich visual matrix of interconnection.  Portray.It differs from existing social media in its emphasis on the creative process and its embrace of diversity. This project is an adaptable system, with applications in fields as wide ranging as the arts, education, epidemiology, science, social services, planning, democratic activism, and everywhere else participants  choose  to take it.

The Next Stage

Portray.It began as a hands-on project, as shown in the project video. The next stage will use digital visualization, database, and location-based technology to create multi-platform representations of portraits and community maps. Having the project available through web and mobile platforms expands access for all, and allows portraits to unfold in depth and over time. This will also allow for visualizations of interests and commonalities, and the display of both cohesions and conflicts. Internet accessibility offers an array of tools for creating portraits, engaging groups, and drawing the relationships between people and communities.

Our goal is to increase democratic use of the internet for greater expression and perception of human interconnectedness. No one will be left out of Portray.It for lack of particular tools, this goal may involve leveraging internet access and skills for technologically marginalized communities, and encouraging the freedom and pleasure of working with physical materials for digitally savvy portraitists.

We will follow a three-phase development arc, with key milestones and goals as follows:

Phase I:  Initial design work has been completed in Phase I with funding from United States Artists micro-philanthropy platform and other donors. This has established a visual identity and scheme for the overall look-and-feel of the platform, with an animation that evokes the ultimate functionality, for use in recruiting beta testers and funders for the next phase.

Phase II: a prototype of the fully functional project, suitable for testing in communities with access to the internet and multiple platforms as well as communities with marginal access.

Phase III: the complete build-out of the platform, with additional applications development to follow, including next stage funding mechanisms to ensure engagement with marginalized and impoverished communities in a collaborative effort with organizations working to change that dynamic.


A dedicated and talented team, with enough experience to be willing to fail in the pursuit of success, will guide the implementation of this initial phase.

Sydney Cooper, Director: Sydney is an accomplished artist whose love of people and passion for the liberal arts and interdisciplinarity in all things led her to create the original methodology and inspiration for Portray.It (see her Artist Profile for more information).

David Breecker, Producer: David is the founder and President of the Santa Fe Innovation Park, a creative problem-solving laboratory, which is partnered with Sydney on the project through its “artist-driven innovation” program. David has been a film production executive, worked extensively on building community access to broadband services, and has devoted his time to the meeting of social, scientific, artistic, and explorative endeavors that specifically aim to benefit the public good.

Anagr.am: A design and development firm that focuses its efforts on building local economy, value-added services, and making design and technology accessible, friendly, and usable on a practical level for client/collaborators trying to negotiate a sea of predatory ventures.