OK, Jo Swingler and Gen Ryan up next. These two are talking about a text / image collaboration they worked on in 2009. Jo’s a writer and Gen’s an illustrator and apparel designer.

They were at Edinburgh College of Art at the same time, and were paired up by their two departments to work together on a collaborative project. The idea was to address the idea of the creative working as an isolated / solitary force. And to work in a different, more open and engaged way. It was a flexible brief.

So Jo created a short text, something that was quite open-ended. Which forced her into thinking about someone else, someone else’s interpretation, how someone else might think. She emailed work to Gen, having never met her…

Gen in the mean time was being asked to create an image that the writer could respond to. So she drew We Howl, a wolf catching salmon for their tea.

Both girls seemed to be frightened of how the other artist would respond. What would they interpret? Was there enough for the other to work with?

The actual work: Jo wrote a prose poem responding to Gen’s work. Very different stylistically to what she normally writes. And Gen came up with a delicate image called The Watch in response to one particular line in Jo’s text.

Both Gen and Jo recommend collaborating, having been wary and cautious to begin with. It’s really affected how they approach their work, what they do, how they think. Going forward, they’re going to work together again, planning a book for the not so distant future.


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