Sunday, February 9, 2014

Inspired by Each Other's Work - Lila Ruby King

As I mentioned in earlier posts, we are starting a new series of interviews and articles called Artist Collaborations and Business Partnerships.

More and more artists are getting together and teaming up on design projects and business ventures. Their friendships are forged through online forums united by common goals.

I myself love to collaborate with other designers and artists and explore more opportunities to forward my basic purpose of partnering to make the world a better place through art. So, I joined in an exciting project hosted by artist Nicole Piar, called Lovely Ink ~ its mission is to uplift, to awaken a sense of wonder, and to sprinkle inspiration around the world. You'll hear more about this collaboration in upcoming months, so look out for more news!

To begin this new series of interviews and stories about collaborative work, I asked Anna and Mitsy at Lila Ruby King about their adventure. Anna says: "I'm not sure group or team is quite the right word for Mitsy and I, both seem to imply something much more expansive than what we really are. We're just two independent artists, who work together on some projects.

Anna and Mitsy working in Mitsy's studio in Belgium
We had been friends for a few years before we ever started creating anything together, Mitsy is a ceramic artist and I am an illustrator and jewelry maker. Mitsy was the one who came up with the idea of us creating a series of work together, that was a few years ago now, and since then we've worked together on many projects because we enjoy it so much."

The subsequent logical question was about inspiration. What makes them collaborate so closely on some projects? Anna: "Very basically, what inspired the whole joining forces way at the beginning is that we were both inspired by each other's work. We both have a lot of similar ideas and aesthetics, so when we started working together both our ideas and techniques fit together really well and easily. We also picked themes that interested us both. I draw my inspiration mostly from the natural world and clay is a wonderful material for expressing that."

Sea Level 2 Collection
She then continued to explain that usually they start sharing ideas back and forth over email, having the basic idea of what they want the end product to be. "The early stages might involve working out what raw materials and supplies have to be sourced and working out who will have what role in the making process.

We also think about an end product price so we can decide if it's going to be a feasible project to even begin. Once everything is decided, we can get started. With our decal work on ceramics, this would mean I get started working on the illustrations and preparing them in the format required for the printers. Then Mitsy does the liaising with the printers and when they're ready, she does all the ceramic work."

North Story 9 Decal Collection
Mitsy has a whole different skill set. Anna has always loved ceramics but never thought it would be something she could have her designs on "without a heap of new knowledge and a miraculous increase in studio space," she tells. "So now, working together, I get to see my work on bowls and mugs and on porcelain for small accessories. It's very exciting, Mitsy gets a whole collection of images at her disposal and my graphic design abilities to create the sheets she needs for getting decals printed. We also benefit from cross promotion. I have one set of customers and followers as does Mitsy, so each of us get to connect with a whole new group of people."

Some decaled accessories being made
Mitsy and Anna communicate mostly through email, with the odd phone call here and there they say. "I suppose Mitsy and I both love what the other is doing in terms of their work. I've always loved her ceramic work, especially her 99 feelings project, and I've always been a fan of the ceramic arts in all its forms so it's exciting to get to have the opportunity to work with Mitsy and have some clay based adventures. Plus Mitsy and I have been friends for a long time, so it's great to get to work with a friend on some projects together."

Any advice or tips you can give to other artists who want to collaborate one with another? "I think what works best for Mitsy and I is that we are friends and had been for a few years before we started working together. It means that we have a good understanding of what the other likes and dislikes, and we know each others work and their capabilities. It also means that we can trust the other person, both to keep up their end of the arrangement and carry out their workload, and have trust that when it comes to pricing and selling that everything is going to be fair.

Of course it's not always possible to work with friends, so if I was starting a project with someone I didn't know so well, I'd probably start with a small project so you can get to know how the other person works, and if that person is going to be reliable on their end of the project before moving on to anything bigger."

Find out more about Anna and Mitsy:

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