The Collaborative Art

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The Collaborative Art

I work alone most days. This is not really by choice, so much as by circumstance. Unlike many printmakers, I am fortunate enough to have my own studio. This has some distinct advantages (things stay pretty clean and if they don’t I have no one to blame but myself) but there are also some drawbacks.

When I was in art school, we worked in a collaborative studio. There was almost always someone else around. We would look at each others work, talk about the ideas behind it, collaborate on colors and textures and pick each others brains about processes. Sometimes (OK, fairly frequently) we would just shoot the breeze while we sat around working on our plates. The discussion revved you up, and pretty soon ideas are just boiling…

Now I spend my days, head down, working steadily along, with only Jack, my studio dog, for company.

Jack the Studio Dog

I wonder, sometimes, if my work would be better if I were a more direct participant in the collaborative environment of this collaborative art (Jack, after all, doesn’t have much to say). If not better, would I just get to the place faster? Most of my work, after all, isn’t seen by anyone until it is done, or nearly done.

I recently had a chance to visit one of my school friends in her studio. Sarah is a member of the team at Modern Multiples, a Serigraph studio in Los Angeles founded by
Richard Duardo. I don’t work with Serigraphs, so it was great to see the facilities, meet the staff and talk about the art and the processes.

Sarah in her office at Modern Multiples

Then, a couple of weeks later, Sarah was in town and visited me at my studio, Copper Plate Press. We spent a couple of hours looking at work, talking art, talking art business, and looking at some processes.

These experiences helped me to realize how much I miss that collaboration, and got me to thinking about how I can bring it back into my art and my life as an artist. No real answers yet, but time will tell.

About the Author:

Dean Russell Thompson is an Artist and Printmaker working in Loveland, CO.