collabo : eco eco & lucie summers


welcome to collabo – a biweekly feature about artist collaborations
. . . brought to you in collaboration with Modish . . .

you just never know who might be peeking at your designs, nor what grand ideas they might be conjuring for a project together. as evidenced by this collaboration between Alison Jackson-Bass of Eco Eco & Lucie Summers of Summersville, the risk of putting your portfolio on-line for all to see might be worth the reward of a potential business partner stumbling across it and contacting you!

read Alison's half of the story here – then click over to Modish to read what Lucie had to say to Jena about this cool collabo.

[all graphics by Jena Coray of Modish]

Which came first: the idea or the partnership? Who approached whom?
I stumbled across Lucie's photostream on Flickr and was knocked out by her creativity. I liked the idea of commissioning some greetings cards from her so I contacted her directly and everything went from there.

We did print a very small run of cards, but Lucie's style has developed since then and we decided that one of her designs, Totem, would be perfect for gift wrap. I suggested the idea to Lucie and she loved it. She chose the colours and suggested that we have the paper printed on both sides, which adds value and gives the purchaser more choice.

What is the nature of your collaboration? (did one of you purchase the rights to use the other’s artwork, do you both receive revenue from sales, is the artwork on-loan for a limited time or # of pieces….)
We are both very trusting and it's an informal collaboration. Lucie was given a large quantity of printed wrap to sell herself as payment. Future projects will probably work in a similar way, perhaps with an ongoing design fee payment per item/metre. I'm very concerned that Lucie doesn't feel that we're taking advantage of her, so if she ever wants to make it a more legally binding relationship then I'd be happy with that.


How did you coordinate the project work and determine who would do what?
Lucie contributes brilliant designs and I run around trying to make them into product. As a company, Eco Eco has an ethos that emphasises eco-friendly, ethically produced, organic, recycled products – not necessarily all at once! I chose a printer, Severnprint, that has won awards for its environmental policies. The wrapping paper is recycled/FSC, is printed with vegetable-based inks using renewable energy. Now we have a product that is both green and beautiful.

Is the collabo ongoing or was it a one-and-done deal?
Definitely ongoing! By the end of next week (fingers crossed) we'll have commissioned a small run of Totem printed on certified organic, fair trade cotton. If we're happy with the quality then we'll extend the printing run to other designs and colours next spring. Lucie is currently printing on recycled felt to create amazing coasters and place mats and we'll ask her to print some for us. We're also thinking about wallpaper and I have one or two other ideas that I haven't told Lucie about yet. (That'll get her going!)


What made you want to partner your art with someone else’s?
I do design myself (I'm currently working on some throws and cushions from local wool) but I thought Lucie's talents for pattern and colour were particularly strong and wanted to grab them and use them before anyone else got to her.

Do you work with other artists to create collaborative pieces?
Not in quite the same way as with Lucie. I've made some suggestions to other makers who have developed the ideas into finished items. One product was a soap dish made from local timber offcuts by a local woodworker (available on our website), and another was hand-felted hearts from local wool, naturally dyed, that we sell in our shop. I've also asked a local potter to produce some tableware to a design I've suggested.


Do you have any suggestions for other artists who are considering a collaborative project?
Go with your gut feel. If you're even slightly hesitant about the collaborative process make sure that you get things in writing, taking legal advice as necessary. A friendly relationship at the beginning could break down later and cause all sorts of problems. Lucie and I are both pretty laid back so that shouldn't happen with us. If she wants to move on by herself that's fine – good luck to her. But while she's happy to work with Eco Eco then I'm delighted to pander to her every whim.

If you could work with any other artist to create a piece together (famous and/or deceased included), who would it be and what would you make?
Crikey, that's a question! I love the work of the British artist Eric Ravilious, who died tragically early on an air/sea rescue mission whilst acting as a war artist in WWII. His works were exquisite, delicate and I love the joy of the commonplace that you see in his designs. His 'Garden Implements' printed cotton fabric is charming. I think he'd be my first choice.
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Thank you, Alison! I really enjoyed learning how this whole process worked for both you/Eco Eco and Lu! It's exactly the type of collaboration many surface designers dream about (me included)!
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