The making of… If You Could

So, Alex and Will emailed me way back in January 2009 asking if I’d like to get involved with this year’s If You Could Collaborate project (I was also involved in the book and exhibition of  IYC Vol.2). I was, of course, delighted and happy to oblige and the idea of working with whosoever I wanted was too good to turn down.

So, honesty time. I was originally going to work with Paula Scher. She was interested and very much up for it (so I was duly flattered) but, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. Paula’s a busy woman obviously, and apparently does a lot of travelling too – the best part was when I flew to new York (for a holiday – but we were going to knock heads while I was over for a few hours) and then, when I finally got through to her it turned out she’d had to go to Italy. Which was frustrating to say the least but unavoidable so we decided to call it quits and try again another time.

By this point of course I’m already 5 months into the project without an idea or a partner… Luckily, there’s a hundred people I’ve wanted to work with and Alison Carmichael was also high on my list. Sean Freeman is a like-minded and particularly talented soul, and someone I’ve worked with very successfully before and so I thought, why not work with both if they’re up for it?

And then my job offer came from Grey. Suddenly my life was consumed with the move and it subsequently drove a nice Atalantic Ocean sized wedge in the project. And suddenly it became clearer to my why it had been so hard to get a hold of Paula. That 5 hour time difference might not seem like a lot but if I haven’t answered my emails by lunchtime there’s a good chance that the recipient won’t get them til the next day and everything ended up taking 2 or 3 times longer than it normally would.

Regardless. We got there. With a lot of to-ing and fro-ing we decided to reinterpret pieces of graffiti  that we’d seen and make huge laser cut pieces of typography out of them and fix them directly to the wall. Sean had to put some herculean hours in at the end – with myself stranded in New York and Alison incapacitated due to being a mum amongst other work commitments he was left holding the baby, so to speak. More sadness was poured onto the fire as the Christmas deadline approached when the wood arrived not fully cut out – like an Airfix kit, so Sean had to go out and buy a set of jewelry saw – basically cheese wire – to ‘floss out’ the individual letters. We ended up drafting in help from students friends and interns too in the closing hours and days but I think the results are worth it.