I was quite excited for this interview, I haven't done too many group interviews, but I believe them to be quite inspiring! The WAFA Collective (aka We Are Fucking Awesome) is a collective of artists, working in many mediums together (though a lot in collage!) from different parts of the world. All the work is done in partnerships of at least two people, and they have found that collectively they are stronger than individually. Reading their stories makes me rethink my solitary collage practices, it sure would be nice to work with others once in a while, and feed off of their inspirations. Maybe everyone should be part of some sort of collective... If you would like to be involved with WAFA, they are looking for new collaborators this summer, interested artists should reach out to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Who are you and how did you get involved with WAFA Collective?
Brandon Wilson: I grew up for most of my childhood in a suburb of Houston, TX. In college I was studying art and photography and was teaching myself graphic design on the side. I met Vinny Pacheco in January 2003 on a job interview in Sacramento. He had a similar position to what I would have had if I had taken the job. I didn't end up working there, but we became friends over the internet, chatting on AIM. I later became friends with Sundry Sullen as well. When they started WAFA they invited me to be a part and I wanted in.
Anthony Zinonos: Anthony Zinonos, Norwich U.K based artist/illustrator. I stumbled across Vinny's (mudchicken) work one day while wandering around the Internet, which led me to the WAFA site. I was totally blown away, they were speaking a language I could understand and I wanted in on the conversations. i contacted Vinny and we swapped some zines and bits and emailed back and forth, then i just asked if there was any room for me at the WAFA inn.
Brandi Strickland: I'm Brandi Strickland and I've lived in North Carolina most of my life. I studied art in college and have been working as an artist for a few years now. I found out about WAFA through their website and their work blew me away. I dug further into their philosophy and intent and wanted to be connected, so I just got in touch.
Jesse Draxler: I am Jesse Draxler. I am an artist and illustrator working out of Saint Paul, Minnesota. I had been a fan of WAFA, both the physical work as well as their vision, for a bit before deciding to approach them about joining. Then I remember talking with Anthony Zinonos, who was / is a member, about the collective and then writing an email expressing my interest in joining. I don't remember specifics, but I know the day I got the email stating that I was in I was extremely stoked.
Sundry Sullen: Johnny aka Sundry Sullen. I came up with the idea after smoking some good weed and sitting in the forest with the trees. I thought of the growth, development, and brotherhood that came from working on art and collaborating with my good friend Vinny Pacheco. When I talked to him about the idea of a collective, it was clear that we both felt compelled to bring WAFA to life.
Jenkins: I am Jenkins, Brighton, England based mixed media artist. I came across WAFA's work just after Anthony Zinonos joined. The first project I saw was the beautiful WAFA frames installation in Portland and it blew me away. The freedom, energy and openness to creating and displaying their art was amazing. I followed the collective for some time after that and loved watching the collective build with new projects and collaborations. The respect and support that the artists had for each other was what really got me hooked. Anthony advised me to apply to be in the group, but I felt a little out of my depth to come forward with that. Pretty soon after that Sundry Sullen sent me a beautiful email asking me to join, it took a couple of days for my feet to touch the ground I was so excited.
2.How long have you been collaborating, and what made you start?
Sundry Sullen: I've been collaborating in different ways ever since I started to express myself through visual art. It always felt very natural for me to work with other artists on projects. A few years back I did some collaborative projects with Vinny, which opened up a lot of doors for me. We really clicked when it came to art. We could work openly and honestly together, and we seemed to understand each other with stark lucidity.
Brandi Strickland: I reached out to WAFA about a year ago, completely new to collaboration. I had been out of school for a couple years and began to feel isolated in my art practice... I knew I needed to be sharing and learning along with a community. I never really consider joining a collective until I found WAFA. It was love at first sight.
Jesse Draxler: I've never really questioned collaborating, it seems natural. My first true collaboration started about 6 years ago with a good friend and artist, Justin James Sehorn, under the name Bloodtime. We continue to create together as Bloodtime to this day. Since then I have had the opportunity to collaborate with many different sorts of artists in many different ways through the years. WAFA is by far the most expansive collaborative collective I have ever worked with, and that really excites me.
3. What do you like most about working with others?
Sundry Sullen: I love sharing my personal growth with everyone, and getting direct feedback and positive support. I always feel like I have someone to lean on when I need to, and that whatever I do I have family out there that loves me for it. It continually gives me new insight and energy to keep working on my own growth and development, and to open myself up even more than the previous moment. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity to work with such honest and amazing artists. And all of this is a mirror to reflect upon myself, to come closer to what I am, and what it is that I'm doing here on this wondrous and mysterious planet.
Brandon Wilson: Everyone's combined energy motivates and inspires me to create, both with the collective as well as with my own personal work. Even in everyday non-art tasks I feel inspired to be more creative. I don't work well in a vacuum, I need that feedback and bouncing around of ideas to stir me up a bit. As time goes on I also like learning about the other members on more personal levels. I'm curious about who we all are and what our stories are from around the globe.
Brandi Strickland: It's inspiring to be working with like minds all over the world. I love the physical art collaborations that we make, but the conversations, discussions and kinship are equally rewarding.
Jesse Draxler: Reacting to another's creativity is what I like most about collaborating. What I like in particular about the WAFA is the sense of kinship and community. Seeing what everyone does not only within the constructs of the WAFA, but also in their personal work, and in their daily lives. There is a lot of drive within all the members of the WAFA, it is incredible to be part of such a passionate group of artists. I think that passion and drive definitely comes through in the art produced.
4. What have you learned from collaboration and who/what did you learn it from?
Sundry Sullen: That it changes me, and inspires me, gives me new understanding, awakens and lifts me up, and always challenges me. It's an ongoing journey that seems to reveal more and more. It is a great teacher. I've learned all of this from each and every member that I've worked with.
Jenkins: We've learnt that good collaboration is about letting go, being positive, open to new influences and to change. It takes your work to places you never expected and in turn gives you the rare opportunity to spectate and see your work in a new way and to share that experience with others.
Brandon Wilson: It's been interesting to see how people respond to different peoples' work. Especially with the mail art project. I have learned to be more free and to try new ideas and styles. I've also learned that it's fun.
5. If you could collaborate with anyone you wanted, who would it be?
Sundry Sullen: I would love to collaborate with a Native American shaman.
Jenkins: There are some incredible collaborations out there that cut the barriers down between the perceived 'sectors' in art. It would be great to do a collaboration with a band, a musical, sonic experience with live visuals. There is something poetic and beautiful about the connection and narrative that music and art can achieve.
Brandi Strickland: Jack Gregory and/or Takashi Iwasaki
Sundry Sullen: www.sundrysullen.com
Brandi Strickland: www.brandistrickland.com
Brandon Wilson: www.brandonfwilson.com
Jesse Draxler: www.jessedraxler.com
Anthony Zinonos: www.anthonyzinonos.com
Thank you everyone!