February 22, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Collaborative Drawings, Made for Video, by Sonia Yoon and Erika Dufour

What are you working on—on the side?

Our side project is a series of collaborative drawings, made for video. In short: timed sessions, we each work on a drawing simultaneously, following strict parameters. The drawings are swapped, and the process is repeated many times. Each drawing is an exploration in improvisation and an experimentation with different materials and processes that force us to release control over the outcome. Like having a workout buddy, these drawing sessions help us to look and think obliquely, to play and generate new ideas, and to get out of our comfort zones.

How do you manage to work on your side project(s)?

We meet weekly, alternating between each other’s studio spaces, and spend about five hours—drawing continuously. We are now exploring working remotely using unexpected materials and web tools as a drawing medium, like Google Documents. Every time we meet, we end up discovering an unexpected, exciting, new process that we build into the next drawing session. Despite our busy lives, we made these sessions a priority because it’s so enjoyable, it teaches us a tremendous amount in a short period of time, and we keep growing artistically. And most importantly, it has deepened our friendship, creating more creative synergy.

Why have a side project?

Transcript of a conversation

[Erika] Yeah, it’s about being more real and vulnerable, why we are putting ourselves out there, all our beliefs about being perfect, etc.

[Sonia] And trusting oneself to get through blocks to find solutions to new and weird problems.

[Erika] Totally! Yeah, embracing the unexpected is leading us to results we love and didn’t expect.

[Sonia] Truly generative and building trust with oneself, as well as with each other.

[Erika] Yes, its scary!

[Sonia] It’s really hard to be that open and sustain it.

[Erika] Judgment is all around us!

[Sonia] I love projects like this, similar to performance work I did awhile ago.

[Erika] Totally! It’s different than talking on the phone and Google Chat. It has more weight somehow.

[Sonia] It’s like you’re in my mind, and I’m in yours!

[Erika] Yes! And your mind surprises me, as well as my own mind, the less I try to control it. And the less I try to control you, the more free we both are to explore and play. We have less time to play in art these days—it’s time we have freedom from the finished outcome, and more about the process of playing and exploring.

[Sonia] I love that we can enjoy being uncomfortable and help push each other. It feels like I’m rewiring my brain when we work on these projects. Really valuable, provocative, and exhausting, and rewarding. Like condensing a year’s worth of creative insight into a few hours.

[Erika] Totally! Being uncomfortable is great, because we laugh about it and sweat, and laugh about sweating. I bet that most artists feel the sweat part, but aren’t allowed to laugh about it. You’re right about the condensing of a year’s work. It also feels like it’s the unfiltered true creative selves that we rarely let out, like being a kid in the best way possible.

[Sonia] I am also learning a lot about how my perfectionism gets in the way of my progress. I have a lot of letting go to do, every time I begin a project or consider an idea worth starting. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about resistance in the form of precision and idealizations. It’s not always practical, and doesn’t always serve an idea well to be so concerned with polishing it. I’ve applied this thinking to my everyday life, and feeling the discomfort in other contexts… trying it out and playing with it some more.

[Erika] Yes, it isn’t always practical as it forms walls between you and the world, I feel the same way, I try to be perfect as that’s what I think is what is expected from me, but then I learn that people find me hard to connect with when I am that way. Ditto. ツ It’s like being what is expected of you as opposed to being the real you. It’s really exhausting to try to be perfect, and there’s no rule book that has said exactly what that “perfect” is, so it’s like chasing an uncatchable unattainable goal.

[Sonia] I do like that I can promise myself to return to the ideas I love and explore them independently over longer terms. That’s an arena where I can develop something further, and to apply my skills of refinement. But I like bookmarking that impulse right now. It’s freeing at the same time I’m learning where my personal roadblocks aren’t helping me.

[Erika] Amen! Yes, there’s always a choice to polish something that resonates—to go deeper into that world. It’s like having the whipped cream on a chocolate shake! BONUS! LOL. ツ

[Sonia] BTW, the sunset tonight is gorgeous!

[Erika] Indeed!

• • •

Diptych and artwork courtesy of Sonia Yoon and Erika Dufour—check out her amazing photography.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.

Please consider supporting Design Feast
If you liked this lovingly-made interview, show your appreciation by helping to support my labor of love—Design Feast, which proudly includes this blog. Learn more.