The Following is a transcript (lightly edited) of a conversation held between Elizabeth DiFiore and Bryce Rammler-Young. It acts as a debriefing session for our project. There is no story involved, though occasional concept art will be appearing.
So, I wanted to start with a question: What are your overall impressions of the project? Good. Bad. Indifferent.
My impression was good. I went into the project with the idea of not only getting back into doing illustration, but I also was excited to be doing a collaborative project with an author. I had never done that before, but thought it wouldn’t be too much of an adjustment because I’ve done plenty of commissions. I definitely see now that there is a difference between working collaboratively with an author, and working with an author in a commission situation, but more on that later. I wouldn’t say there was any bad, but certainly things that I would have wanted to approach differently in hindsight. Ah, the learning process!
I agree we definitely experienced a collaborative learning curve. It’s different knowing that someone else is going to be interpreting the words I’m writing. For me, the interesting thing was creating a character who could stand on her own in such a short period of time. (Thought that’s a question I want to get back to)
Primarily, I think it was a balance between cramming a lot of detail in but not knowing necessarily what details matter. There has to be a feeling that there’s more to this world than just Josephine, even if it’s only hinted at.
It was hard for me at times to know when to rely entirely on you and your vision as the writer, and when to step back and let my own interpretation take over. In a commission, I want to get a drawing as close to the author’s vision as possible. In a collaboration, I think we are more expected to trust the other person to have a different take on things, yet still see it as a cohesive work (the visuals + text).
There are parts of the story I thought we nailed as collaborators, and other parts I thought we failed at. In regards to your thoughts on developing the character – I felt that we had a stronger idea of who she was and what story we were telling before we started posting, and then during the project we lost her a bit.
I don’t agree. I think we had just as solid a base when we finished as when we started. But, the idea that the project, as it came to life, definitely creates a sort of feedback loop on itself. Where you can see the flaws or rather, perceived flaws.
Speaking of which, deviations from the initial plan definitely crept in as we progressed.
Do you think that was lack of planning and preparation on our part or just part of the natural process of figuring out how we work together? And, as a follow up, do you think we should have planned all this out and not winged it so much?
Definitely should not have winged it so much, and I know that I largely propagated that through late art. That said though, I felt that the story didn’t execute as smoothly as we thought it would. An example would be how we thought it would work to slowly fade the amount of text out, but (perhaps due to lack of proper planning) the story didn’t end up having any logical transition between Parts 4-6.
Art wise I thought that incorporating the text in the art would help broaden the amount of story we could fit into the 6 parts, but that too I thought didn’t execute as well for the reader.
You mentioned this as a commission compared to a pet project? How would you have treated it differently? (I’ve never had a “paid for” work)
Commissioned illustration requires that the artist get as close to the author’s/commissioner’s idea of what they want the visuals to be (within reason). In a collaboration with an author, it’s usually practice for each person to take artistic liberty with the project’s interpretation.
So the images and text might not tell the same story, but share the same base story… does that make sense?
Yes. Given the nature of who’s in charge. Our relationship is probably closer to that of a comic book artist and comic writer in the sense that both had an equal amount of control in their given fields.
I think one thing I think was a mistake in terms of execution was to say “The readers responded well to this post. We should change the style of the posts.” It’s not the sort of thing that you should do, shifting gears half-way through a project. The result isn’t necessarily bad but I don’t think either of us have the skill yet to make the sudden swerve. In this sense, if it were a professional project, I would have insisted on sticking to the outline I wrote more closely.
Not, again, that I’m objecting to the way things turned out. It think it’s great. I just wish I fought for more in terms of layouts and what was key elements of the script that needed to come across.
There were definitely some great moments of story and/or art. I particularly liked the execution of Parts 1, 2 and 4 in regards to your treatment of the text. I thought the story was best told and understood in those parts. Art wise, I thought Part 1, 4 and 6 were strongest, particularly in how they coexisted with the text.
I really liked part 1, 3, and 5, in terms of how they came together. Actually, of all the pieces, I think 3 and 5 are the best. Partially, I think, because of the visual dynamics at play.
Okay, let’s wrap this up. Forget what we think we could have done better in this project. What do you think we learned for the projects we have ahead of us?
I think that deadlines are a must. Mostly because of what we managed to accomplish once we finally “sat down together” though not literally. And the weekly meetings. Maybe we should have met more often? But, having those meeting as a “home base” of sorts did keep us grounded.
I think the biggest thing for the next project is, and I think you would agree, have the script and plan completed and locked in before starting. Definitely leave wiggle room, like our debate over whether or not Part 5 needed to exist for pacing, but more concrete. If there are discussions to be had, they’d need to occur over what exists.
I do agree.
Meeting more often than once a week wouldn’t have made a difference, but meeting once a week made a BIG difference. That was some great foresight on your part, and it’s something I will be using in later projects.
Art wise, I will be certain to finish (or nearly finish) art before the posting schedule starts. That alone is one of the strongest take-aways I got from this: how to better project manage.
Overall, I thought the project was a success. I thought it was an interesting story and we accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time.
Plus it was really cool getting to work with you after talking for so long.
Well, that’s a wrap. I hope everyone enjoyed Esoteric.