[b]Ever since I became a moderator of the Collaborative Team Project forum on CGTalk, Ive often wondered how artists perceive the term collaboration. Surely, one can understand the notion that some artists may view collaborative work as pro bono assignments, freebie labor, or a great big financial waste of time.
However, I feel the internet offers a unique environment for artists from all over the globe to commune together and share ideas, inspirations, and techniques. Together in these communities, artists have helped each other improve their work, challenged each other in artistic contests and collaborated on joint illustrations.
These collaborations seldom bring riches or fame to those involved, but artists continue to dedicate their free time to such projects out of respect for project leaders, admiration of fellow artists or sense of community pride for their favorite online forums.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ken Wong, the project organizer of the EatPoo Tarot Card Collaboration, about his experiences working with so many different artists.
When did the tarot project begin and what was the inspiration for starting it?[/b]
Planning for the Eatpoo Tarot Card Project began in late May of this year, and people began work on their cards in late July. I guess you could say the inspiration behind it was Eatpoo community itself. We’re a very diverse group of people, and I thought a single collaborative work involving so many talented people would be an amazing thing to see. The cards of the tarot deck were just a convenient way of linking many illustrations together.
Can you give a brief description of what was required from each artist who joined the project or maybe a summary of what the process of getting the artists started was like?
Because some cards of the tarot deck might be considered ‘easier’ or ‘more interesting’ than others, registering artists had to make a list of preferred cards. To help them with this, Gonz wrote out a large list of brief description of each card. After the artists were assigned their cards, they were encouraged to research their card further and share the development of their design with the rest of the forum. Apart from some simple border and naming specifications, the style and content of the card were left entirely up to the artist.
The Eatpoo forum has a very unique and unified bond of talented artists. How would you describe the forums to someone who’s not a regular visitor?
From the very beginning, Eatpoo has been a combination of two aspects art and humour. The community is structured around 2D and 3D digital art and photography, but an atmosphere of silliness hangs about the place, like the stench of an old sandwich lost behind a couch. We might not be as professional or respected as other online art communities, but you won’t find a more artistically diverse, tightly knit, disturbingly funny place as the Poo.
Where there any early concerns about working with so many different artists and their styles? Werent you afraid the styles might conflict with each other for such a unified themed project such as a tarot deck?
There were concerns, but I always ignored them. One of Eatpoo’s strongest assets is its diversity, and I wanted to not only take advantage of that, but encourage it. The results may look a little uneven, but that’s what the people of Eatpoo are - uneven, mismatching, horribly different!
Organizing such a large group of artists from all corners of the world seems like quite an achievement in itself. Did you experience any difficulties working with such a diversified group of people?
The biggest problem was getting people to actually finish their cards. Some people had to attend to other things like real life or school or jobs, some forgot about their cards altogether. Fortunately, many artists had so much fun they wanted to do more cards, and others registered for the project mid-way, right up until the final deadline.
Are there any plans of printing the cards as a deck and making them available for purchase? What is the end result of the tarot card project?
For me, the most important result of the project was the collaboration itself. It was fantastic to see the artists take on the task in so many different ways. In terms of tangible results, we have 118 fantastic card designs by 94 artists on the [color=orange]official site. They’re available to buy as 2004 Cafepress calendars in the shop. We’re currently looking into getting them printed as a real deck of cards - it will just depend on finding a workable publishing/distribution method.[/color]
As this project’s coordinator, where there any particularly proud moments for you on this? Was there any thing that you wish that you had done differently?
I can’t say there was any one moment that stood out - basically I was happy whenever I was delivered a well-thought out, innovative, amazing-looking card design. Which was often! Looking back, if I had known how stressful the last few weeks were, trying to make sure we ended up with a full deck, I would have sent angry reminder notices to all the entrants every week.
There are so many good cards in these decks, but do you have any favorites? Maybe one or more that turned out better than you were expecting?
Ah, that’s like asking a very productive mother to pick between her 118 children. There are honestly around two dozen cards that just floored me when I saw them. So many exceeded my expectations.
What’s next? Are you planning your next community project or have plans to do something on the scale of the tarot project in the future?
Siftland is now running a comic project on Eatpoo, which will have a bunch of artists creating short comics on a similar theme. We’ll probably run an ordinary, less stressful contest soon too. As for me, I really just want to get back to my own art, after months of tarot wrangling!
Any additional thoughts about the project that you’d like to share with the CG community?
Despite all the broken deadlines, the lazy artists, and the hours of site coding and image editing, it was an amazing experience coordinating this project. I look forward to the day when I can show my grandchildren this great collaboration by all these artists before we were famous, and try to explain why we’re called Eatpoo.
Thank you for your time Ken. I’m thrilled to be a part of this project and honored to have the opportunity to interview you.