Volume Two / August 2003 / Frankfurt am Main
Interview with R.J.McCuskey
M.L.: Rowan, you participated in the second volume of "The One Weekend Book Series". Tell me about it. How was it?
R.M.: That is difficult to explain in just a couple of sentences. I learned a lot during the One Weekend Book Series weekend, a lot on a lot of different levels. That is probably the strength of the project you have pulled me in to. By creating a situation in which time, place and you, Martin, all three become the framework, subject and opponent there is bound to be a lot of experiencing going on. If these experiences are able to make their way into the book created, it will certainly become an interesting document.
For me my personal experiences were as much of a criterion for the success for The One Weekend Book Series as the final visual results. How do you measure whether the individual One Weekend Books as well as the entire One Weekend Book Series are a success or not? And do you often have to guide or redirect the direction of the project to obtain this success?
M.L.: It is like you said, I try to create a certain situation. A situation in which the participators and I let go of our familiar working methods, without limiting our creativity. This is necessary to be able to develop and learn. If we are able to take something from this weekend and implement it into our everyday lives it has been a success to me. But "The One Weekend Book Series" isn't just a creative workshop for burned out creatives. The artists and designers I invite are all great talents that I admire very much. Everyone is very different to the other. This makes it very exciting to me and hopefully to the reader of "The One Weekend Book Series" too. In the end I want to create a book showing all the emotions and struggles the authors have gone through, a book that is much more authentic, lively, emotional and intuitive than an illustrative work that was worked on for a week.
During the process of creation I try not to intervene too much. Everybody has to get used to the situation. The participator has to become confident and redefine its talent. I rather exchange illustrations and have fun while creating. In the end, when we put together the spreads and try to find an order, a story or a dramaturgy, we decide if redirection is needed. Directing a creative process requires a lot of sensitivity and limiting an individual does not benefit the project, in contrary, strong individual creativity has more potential to inspire. Too much direction from my side would make every volume look the same. This sounds boring to me, both for the result as the experience.
Rowan, you spoke of several layers in which you learned. What layers were you talking about?
R.M.: For me "The One Weekend Book Series" weekend was primarily a personal learning experience. My personal situation became intensified and, to a certain degree, clarified in the process of "The One Weekend Book Series Weekend". Expression, verbal and non-verbal language, love, privacy, group, sharing, culture, emotion, strength, weakness, expectation, intuition, self constriction, humor, all of these themes somehow connected to me and to each-other. These are themes that run through a lot of my daily experiences. By squeezing these feelings and processes into a room with someone else, a task and a time limit I sometimes felt a bit overwhelmed during the 48 hours. In the end this is my biggest impression of my One Weekend Book Series participation.
You always have seen the work of the guest artist before you start working with him / her. Does this influence your approach to the new issue, for instance do you modify yourself or the situation to please the artist or to manufacture certain results?
M.L.: Interesting question. Yes, I do think about who I am going to invite and when forming a group who I am going to stick together, but thatís often only speculation. In the end itís various conditions, unable and unwanted to control, that lead to the approach, process and result of each volume.
I am sure that everyone thatís participating is modifying himself in order to bring up work that the group will understand, not to please the other artists, but to be able to create a collective work, and what seems to be even more important, to be able to learn from the others.
When you were talking about the personal learning process during the weekend you brought up terms like expression, verbal and non-verbal, language, love, privacy, group, sharing, culture, emotion, strength, weakness, ideas, expectation, intuition, self constriction, humor, to describe the situation. Do you remind any particular scene or situation that would describe your learning process?
R.M.: As far as I can remember it was the getting started that was the most difficult for me. As I am used to a lot of privacy and space while working, it was difficult to produce images with you watching. We started out in this cafÈ, drinking tea, drawing the people. After a couple of minutes I felt the need to go to the toilet and draw a naked boy there, followed by an ugly muscular figure. Later on that day, at your house, I understood a bit more that the success of the project depends on to what extend the participants are able to just let go and go.
Have you gotten used to all the blind dating yet? And where are you heading?
M.L.: Absolutely not, it is always unexpectedly exciting. I never know what is going to happen next. ... and as the attention of the public towards the project is growing, I feel as well a growing responsibility to keep the project interesting, to keep the project developing. What do you think the direction is in which the project is developing?
R.M.: From what you have told me you seem to have a lot of big names in the design-art world lined up for future One Weekend Books. This is an exciting development. Also the development of the performance aspect of the project is very interesting. These two aspects can and should grow more. From there on there are many possibilities. A logical next step could be a One Weekend Road Movie. With a little money a lot of fantastic things will become possible. Exciting.