Q&A | A Collaborative Effort Amongst Friends: How Two Friends Are Working To Combine Art and Prose

6:30 AM

The artistic process of combining two very different forms of art has always been of great fascination to me. Being a creative person myself, I find that I often wonder how specific works came to be; what the artist's process is, how and when they know their essence is complete, where they draw their inspiration from, etc.

In this curiosity, I have to frequently control myself from bombarding other's with questions. There's just something about it--surrounding yourself in art--that makes me want to know everything. Which is why 2019 has been the year of interviewing creatives on Booked J.

Today, I am excited to be briefly interviewing one of my closest--oldest and dearest--friends and her creative partner. Earlier this year, they embarked on the journey of releasing their first collection of poetry and accompanying artwork online. Ever since, I've been itching to discuss with them what it is that made the pieces fall together.

Together, they have a future ahead of them (as individuals and as collaborators) that seems bright and breathtaking. When you read, when you see, what they've accomplished so far, you will feel this. I am so excited to share with you all this brief Q&A on developing and collaborating. I highly recommend looking into their collaboration, which you may find on their social media.

Q&A: 
(A1: Paige, A2: T) 

Q: Thinking back to the early stages of your collaboration, and now, what do you find was the most influential thing that the other offered you?
A1: The ability to take the essence of an idea and bring it to life. I had some inkling of what I wanted to accomplish, but she really brought it all together. T was honest and open to my suggestions.
A2: Paige has the gift of gab - she can grasp her feelings, her visions, put them into words and craft them into beautiful poetry. Each of her poems has its own colours and is filled with copious imageries, which made it easier for me in the illustrating progress.

Q: There's so much to be inspired by when it comes to prose and art. Thinking about contemporary writers and artists, who would you say has most impacted you artistically? (Or: When you look back on your formative years, for example, who sparked the desire to create?)
A1: This is a difficult question that probably won’t render the greatest answer because there isn’t one direct source that I can pinpoint. I try to not ingest lots of other people’s works for fear of trying to duplicate their style or content. I really want my art to be a pure representation of myself. I remember back in high school when I was first introduced to Emily Dickinson’s works. I admire how she took subjects like nature and death and represented them in such simplistic, yet beautiful ways. As a queer artist, I hope to continue her legacy in my writings.
A2: I would say Joanna Newsom.

Q: The way that you both fused two drastically different forms of art together is virtually seamless. In this scenario, everything just fits. Do you plan on working together further in the future?
A1: Working on an additional version of the poems in another language. I’m not really sure. I know T is pretty busy with her life and the time and reasoning would just have to be right.
A2: We are planning to have an Arabic version of the collection as well. Thus we are still working together, and with another collaborator.

Q: Was it a surprise to you that everything tied together as well as it did? How did you come about the idea of working together? Was it planned heavily in advance or more spontaneous?
A1: No, not really. T and I were able to communicate easily about the theme and the desired effects. That’s the beauty of social media; it’s allowed us to bring these two forms of art together. I’ve seen her work before on twitter over the past 4 years or so. I admire her work and wanted to see if we could make something happen together. As much of my work is, it was pretty spontaneous. That’s something I’ve come to realize about myself as an artist. I have a desire to create only when inspiration strikes. And this could happen anytime, anywhere.
A2: It wasn’t really a surprise, as Paige wanted something wispy and light-toned, and that was the direction I was thinking about for this project as well. This project was actually pretty spontaneous! A mutual friend introduced us to each other and we just started working poem by poem.


Q: What is it you hoped to achieve with your collaboration effort? Looking back on where it all started, do you feel that you have?
A1: Getting both of our works out in the open. It was challenging to mesh the two together because there is always a mood that I want to illustrate and thankfully T was able to do that gracefully. I was nervous to release my work and I honestly have a hard time presenting my work to my closest friends because I don’t want to come across as shallow. So, this collaboration allowed both T and I to help each other and I was less anxious than before because I had a partner on my team this time.
A2: I wanted to try something that I have never done before. It’s a new experience for me to read someone else’s poems and make illustrations that help convey the meanings.


Q: The age old question: what makes a poem, or a painting/drawing, standout to you?
A1: I think for me, poetry has to have an essence of efficiency. That’s basically what poetry is though, isn’t it? A snapshot, a moment, a feeling, hashed out in a few brief lines. With paintings, I like to see things in the work that exhibit a certain level of chance or experimentation. With drawings, I’m really impressed by the minimalist approach of “less is more.” Those are a lot like poetry.
A2: When I relate to it strongly, or in other words, when it’s redolent of personal feelings and experiences.

Q: What is your writing, and/or painting, process? Did it take a while for you guys to settle into working together?
A1: It’s a bit like being electrocuted and working through it, feeling it all out in brief spurts. I like to get my work done almost in one setting. T and I were able to bring things together rather quickly. I had never done a collaboration with another artist before and didn’t have much expectation. But it went smoothly.
A2: The process of creating this collection was that Paige would give me 2-3 poems at a time, and I would do the illustrations poem by poem. There were some poems that only took me less than an hour to finish, but some would take days. We didn’t encounter any issues during the collaboration process, in fact both of us enjoyed working together.

Q: When all is said and done, how do you feel having released your collaboration into the wild? Will you ever seek out publication for it or any future collaborations?
A1: It’s a breath of fresh air. Generally speaking, I tend to release things half-baked because I’m just so wily and nervous when it comes to my creations. And I never want anything I do to come across as pretentious or contrived because I don’t take myself that seriously in the first place. I’d like to seek out publication eventually. I’m uncertain of the process, however. After this collaboration, I would like to work with another artist or group of artists in the future if I feel like I have something I could offer them. It has to be a give and take. I like the word “symbiosis.” You help me, I help you. I think that’s an art-form, in and of itself.
A2: I haven’t been drawing in order to focus on pointed pen calligraphy for quite some time, so creating illustrations and actually letting the whole world see them is pretty daunting I would say! At the same time I feel happy that I helped adding some beauty to already gracefully written poetry. So it’s a concoction of many emotions. At this point I haven’t thought about publication yet, but future collaborations is definitely a yes.


Q: Because expressing ourselves through various art forms is always a bit daunting, and many are fearful of putting themselves out there even slightly, was there ever a moment where you almost didn't post your work? What changed your mind?
A1: In all of us who embark on a mission, there is at least a flash of doubt about releasing your baby into the world. I can’t think of a time during this process where I said, “I’m not doing this.” At this stage in my life, I don’t care if people like it, ignore it, or rip it to shreds. This is all a part of the process. Art is subjective and that doesn’t scare me one bit.
A2: When I was a teenager I posted a lot of cartoon doodles onto my Twitter account, and around that time I started to pick up calligraphy as well, so I also posted a lot of calligraphy artworks. Soon after I felt really embarrassed because of these posts because they were so poorly drawn and the handwriting looked horrible, and this embarrassment caused me to stop posting artworks for a really long time. Then a few months ago some of my “mutuals” on Twitter told me that they remembered my doodles, and they loved my posts because they’re cute. This made me realise that I need to appreciate my work more, and appreciate the progress that I’ve made.

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young creatives—what would it be?
A1: Be confident in what you are doing. Try to not emulate other people, as much as possible. It’s hard in this day and age with all forms of media being thrown at us from every angle. But, find who you are and find what makes you tick in the stillness of it all. This will bring you fulfillment and you will grow with the right tools.
A2: Be confident and don’t be scared to show the world your work.

About the Author + Artist
(and where to find them!) 

Paige grew up in several states across the US. In her formative years, she developed a keen interest in writing. As an adult, she doesn't claim to be a professional. She does, however, love writing, and hopes that readers will enjoy part of her journey so far. Paige currently resides in Austin, TX, and you can also find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Tien has been fascinated by pointed nib calligraphy since she was fifteen. She is now broadening her repertoire to broad nib calligraphy and illustration. She is a Vietnamese student in Singapore. Usually, she's pushing last-minute deadlines. Somehow, she still finds time for Twitter.

You can read their collaboration for free here.

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