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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Altered Collaboration

If you know me, you know I am addicted to and energized by “altered books.” One such book is on display in the Vertizontal Gallery.

A friend in California got me started creating altered books about 10 years ago. Altered Books are a wonderful way to journal or simply display artwork. Better yet, an altered book is a piece of art in and of itself.

I pick books based on title, feel, size, or anything I deem special or magical about a book. My books sometimes become my prayer journal, my conversation with God, spiritual musings, and record of my recent journey. Sometimes, they are simply a way for me to stretch my creativity.

One of my favorite ways to make an altered book is to think of my artwork working in connection with the author of the book. It is a partnership of sorts--a creative collaboration. So, a book with an interesting title might have art that coincides with the title and chapters of that book. Or, it might be in complete contrast.

Bottom line : : : someone else’s book + my art = altered book.

So, today I “stumbled upon” this cool site

(P.S. You NEED to check out StumbleUpon)

Over the course of almost a year, four artists—two in Belgium and two in New York—exchanged a book wherein one artist would create art and send it off to the next who would then make an entry/spread in response to the previous spread. The artists did not communicate concerning the content of the book during the project.

“Book” traveled over 60,000 miles in 8 months.

I love this project. Great idea. Great execution. Great follow-through.

As an artist and a pastor, I have a few thoughts on creative collaboration. To show my cards, I usually don’t like it. For creative collaboration to work for me we need to define some boundaries and set up some rules.

But, without me diving too deep into my psyche, let’s hear from you. Here are some questions to start the conversation but, add whatever you want . . .

• What would church look like with more creative collaboration?
• What would have to line up for an artist to allow another artist into their creative space?
• What do you do when people praise creative collaboration and you think someone else’s ideas “dumb down” the whole?
• What is the best creative collaboration result you have ever had?

Please comment. This post is also part of Ragumuffin Soul's Creative Chaos.


Pat Callahan said...

JVO, your altered books are magic... that's the only way I know how to say it. You are an incredible talented artist and the altered books you showed us at re:create truly made me speechless (and you know how rare that is!

You are an inspiration to me my friend. I wish I possessed your eye for taking the mundane and making it magical.

Much love to you, my brother.

Pat Callahan said...

Crap! I hate it when my grammar sucks because of a typo!

It should have read, "You are an incredibly talented artist..."