Tyler Ramsey is living in a glass box. He’s getting leg cramps, he has been eating the same thing (a meatball sandwich) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and he hasn’t showered in over three days. On the bright side, his wife plans on bringing a tub to his box later in the afternoon. "I’ll be like an old-time cowboy sitting in a tub and she’ll sponge bathe me," he says.
Ramsey, an artist, is spending a week inside a glass box in front of the Toms store in Venice, California, as part of a stunt to set a record for the longest Google+ Hangout ever. While sitting (and pacing) in the box, Ramsey is taking orders from customers who call a special hotline. Just offer three colors and an "inspiration word" for custom-designed Toms shoes or eyewear cases, and he’ll dream something up for you.
"The point of this is to push forward the movement, get a lot of the attention for the movement. The entire [one for one model] that Toms does is humbling to me," he says. "This is the best way that I can contribute."
Ramsey, who was hopped up on caffeine when we spoke (and pacing around a stool, as I could see on the Google+ Hangout in the most meta phone interview I’ve ever conducted) has received some strange non-Toms related requests. One person asked him to paint their dog. Another guy called up and asked if he could take a girl on a date inside the box, with Ramsey standing by. "Someone came by with a baby and I thought they would let me paint their baby, and I was excited," he says. "But they didn’t want that at all."
Things have been especially entertaining for Ramsey in the middle of the night (he has a tent inside the box where he can sleep, but has been working on orders late every evening). "This one dude from Lost was just walking down the street and I was like 'Hey, I love Lost and didn’t understand the ending,' and he was able to explain it to me!" he says.
If you order something from Ramsey during his glass box stunt, just keep in mind that your inspiration word is just a suggestion to guide his abstract art. And if you want to visit the box, you’re welcome to come by. Just remember that you probably will leave with some souvenir paint splatters.
With four days to go (at the time of writing), box living is starting to get difficult for Ramsey. "Today was the day I woke up and was like 'Oh yeah, this is no longer a new experience for me,'" he says. But he says, the entire experience has shown him how "the relationship between business and art can blossom into something unexpected and exciting."
And at least he can leave the box to go to the bathroom.