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Ode to collaboration

This Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for collaboration.

Over the past three(!) years, intense full-time teaching/program management combined with what I will summarize as "the unwillingness to sacrifice lazy Sundays" has had deleterious effects on the productivity of this humble bookmaker. Of late, the age-old but always wondrous phenomenon of collaboration has come to High5's rescue! Two portfolio exchanges were a significant ingredient in this recipe for my return to printing well-being. 

First, I collaborated with Marnie Powers-Torrey to produce a little flexagon number for the CBAA's 2014 folded form exchange. Here are the pieces in progress--printed on Masa (pressure prints and metal type), trimmed, folded, and ready for assembly:

Manipulated by the reader, the flexagon syntactically rearranges the lingo of modern social networking and digital connectivity. The resulting sentences, we think, are quite amusing--and speak to the confusion and silliness spawned by new technology and the often undercooked language that accompanies it.

Collaboration number two was committed with my colleague Laura Decker of Birdbrain Press. Here she is with the broadside we produced for a print exchange organized by Justin Diggle in the U's printmaking department:

(Aren't I lucky to have such a cute collaborator?) Sale of donated prints raises money for U students to attend the annual SGC printmaking conference. We used linoleum blocks, wood type, and metal type, rule, and dingbats for this print. This baby was cranked out in one 3-hour brainstorm session, a few weekend and apres-work typesetting/carving sessions, and one 9-hour, Lady Gaga-powered day in the studio on an otherwise quiet Sunday. We inked up two presses, side-by-side: one with gold, and one with what Laura termed "hot red" (a blended red with a healthy dose of yellow flourescent).

Conclusion: It is tough to put one's nose to the grindstone and keep it there all the time. When I started my "adult" job, I was always asking professors and program managers and artists-with-day-jobs, "How in the world do you make time for doing your OWN WORK?!" I wanted THE answer. I realize now that there isn't one. Some people have boundless energy, some people a compulsion to produce. I have neither of these. For me, working with a buddy is one of the most satisfying answers I've found. It is fun and social; shared deadlines are motivating; and the dialogue takes me in unexpected conceptual and visual directions. In both of these projects, we made things I never would've arrived at on my own, and that is exciting, so thank you printing partners! Let's do it again sometime.


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