welcome to collabo – a biweekly feature about artist collaborations
. . . brought to you in collaboration with Modish . . .
this week's featured pairing is of special interest to me b/c it includes one of my favorite surface design businesses: Umbrella Prints. Amy Prior & Carly Schwerdt are the team behind Umbrella Prints, and they partnered with talented jewelry designer Ceeb Wassermann of howlindoggie to create original metal pendants with motifs from their fabrics.
read the Umbrella Prints' half of the story here – then click over to Modish to read what Ceeb 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?
Umbrella Prints began Tandem collaborations in 2007. We named them Tandems in order to describe a design ride or journey where each person's skills, energy and ideas propel a design forward. A Tandem is also fun and you never know where you might end up! Carly and I didn't know how this idea would work in reality but each Tandem collaboration has been different and special.
In this circumstance we approached Ceeb– a cold call and completely nerve-wracking- like asking for a first date. Amy had previously purchased one of Ceeb's pendants, wore it all the time and treasured it. We knew she was the best person to create silver shapes from our designs as her own work displays a similar mixture of solid shapes and line in the same way our textiles do.
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….)
Every collaboration is based on trust. The Elephant design and the FanFlower motif come directly from our fabric and Ceeb cuts them with great skill and patience by hand from silver. Each charm has Ceeb's hallmark and UP for Umbrella Prints stamped into its surface. People like to flip the charms over and show off the marks which is a lovely. We manage the point of sale for the charms and every sale is split 50/50.
How did you coordinate the project work and determine who would do what?
We coordinate everything by emails back and forth! It was definitely a feel as you go process. We sent images of our designs to Ceeb who then posted us samples of what the finished product might look like. We were all so happy with the final charms and then decided to create a Bubba Elephant for children as well.
Is the collabo ongoing or was it a one-and-done deal?
We have enjoyed working with Ceeb so much and hope to continue the journey! Umbrella Prints has just released two new printed fabric designs and would love to see elements from within the designs transformed into jewelery. Ceeb is very busy with her own gorgeous range- we are grateful to work with her to realize some of our own design dreams.
What made you want to partner your art with someone else’s?
Carly and I would like to create an open, transparent business and to experiment and keep changing with the basis of our designs always being pattern. We view design as a permeable membrane where ideas flow in and out. Life is too short to lock yourself and your ideas away in a room- plus it's isolating. People crave beautiful design and there is room for every designer to succeed. I don't know who suggested only one artist can work on a canvas.
As artists it is natural to be interested and attracted to all types of textures and mediums, it all crosses over. As surface designers it is natural to want to see what your patterns and shapes look like on different surfaces but impossible to achieve all the skills you would need to produce them by yourself to any real standard of quality. It is so exciting to blend what you do with someone else; with both party keeping identity & integrity.
Do you work with other artists to create collaborative pieces?
Umbrella Prints is a collaboration in itself- we pool our time, ideas and our skills. We worked with lovely crafter Brooke Simmons, from Melbourne, to produce a limited run of her Boobook Sausage Dogs (boobooksausagedogs.bigcartel.com) in Umbrella Prints fabrics and were approached by Jennifer Rinzler from Ciuccio (ciucciobaby.com) to collaborate by airmail (she is in Los Angeles) on her modern baby quilts in our fabrics- in that case we did a direct swap.
Do you have any suggestions for other artists who are considering a collaborative project?
Talk, listen, check and check again, relax, respect and acknowledge. You really need to love what the other artist does and trust implicitly that their own style best represents your own because a Tandem wouldn't be a Tandem without the two parties whole input- you put your work on the table and so do they … and then because you both love what the other person does it all just fits together… and if it doesn't? not to worry … it's all about that journey.
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?
Where do we start!? This is a cruel and fabulous question! Sculptor Henry Moore, painter Gustav Klimt, dancers Fontaine/Nureyev :: large pieces… movement…. and another person's perspective. It is so refreshing to see and learn from another artist's perception of your own designs and how that is reflected in new forms and objects. We are open to working with emerging and established artists/designers- if you have an idea in mind just make contact.
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Thank you, Amy & Carly! I really enjoyed learning how this whole process worked for you both and Ceeb!
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