Hi everyone, welcome back to another week on the Christine Murphy Designs blog. Today we’re going to talk about collaboration, because like everything else creative, the Lord did it first!
In the book of Exodus, at the start of chapter 31 and again at the end of chapter 35, you can read the story of two men who were filled with the Spirit of the Lord. They happen to be the first people recorded in the Bible as being filled with the Spirit, and guess what? These two men also happened to be artists and craftsmen!
First the Lord called Bezalel, He filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. The bible says that Bezalel was master craftsman, an expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He was a skilled engraver and jeweller and wood carver. It even says he was a master at every craft!
Then the Lord called Oholiab, He gave both Bezalel and Oholiab the ability to teach their skills to others. The LORD gave them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiderers and weavers. These two men excelled as craftsmen and as designers.
Together they were given the task of creating the Tabernacle and all the items that were needed to furnish it. Chapters 36 to 39 of Exodus provides more detail, but they lead others in the process of making things like the Ark of the Covenant, all the furnishings of the Tabernacle, a table and its utensils, a pure gold lampstand with all its accessories, an incense altar, a washbasin with a stand and beautifully stitched garments.
I love how the Lord called 2 men and they were required to work together! They were leaders and teachers of their craft. For the Tabernacle project, they had to collaborate with each other to bring the project to fruition. “Collaborate” is defined as working, one with another; cooperating and I think this sums up Bezalel and Oholiab’s task perfectly.
So, let’s fast forward to today and talk about collaboration. You might have noticed that today’s drawing of an illuminated letter H is a little bit different to what I’ve been working on lately. Of late yes, but not different entirely.
In 2016 I undertook a 100 Day Lettering Project and for a portion of it, I dedicated my time toward producing an illuminated alphabet. Let me give you a quote from an article I wrote for Meaza Magazine on this topic, “So what is illumination? Illumination is the art of decorating books with colour and gold or silver. The word stems from the Latin word illuminare, meaning ‘to light up’. Just imagine opening a book and being greeted with gold or silver shining off the page—This is an experience! Margins filled with ornamental designs and flourishes, demonstrates a love of the text it accompanies.”
Illuminated manuscripts are an experience, they are a feast for your eyes as beauty meets text in the most glorious way. If you’ve never seen one, I’m telling you now, you need to! But it’s ok, I’ve got you covered…. You can begin your infatuation with the Book of Hours and get lost in it’s magnificence on Wikipedia (thank you internet!). Just follow the link.
So you can see, I’m not new to illuminated lettering, I’ve loved it for a while now. It was also just before this time, in 2015, that I met my friend Martin Yales. Martin and I were both actively posting pictures of our artwork in some groups focusing on hand lettering in Facebook. We regularly commented on each other’s work and now, all these years later we’re still doing the same thing on Instagram!
Martin and I were, and still are, at similar stages in our art journey. Each of us have helped and encouraged each other along the way. As we learn new things and try to improve what we do, we offer each other advice and we share content with each other from other artists who are leaders in their field (Martin’s got an eye for this more than me!) as inspiration.
Late last year I messaged Martin and said that I really sensed he and I should collaborate on a project together. I saw it as the next logical step for us, a way for us both to grow each other’s following and exposure. At the time, when I approached Martin, I didn’t have any idea as to how we could collaborate, so it kind of was left up in the air…
Fast forward again to January this year, and Martin messaged me to let me know he’d come up with an idea for us to collaborate on! Martin’s idea was to work on an illuminated letter together. He would draw it, do all the base line work and create the skeleton, then he’d email it to me for the colour work. I was sold!
What you see here today is the finished piece. The design was created by Martin and coloured by me. Our finished illuminated letter H looks pretty good, don’t you reckon? Just like the work Bezalel and Oholiab did! While Martin and I are not of the same caliber as them, I’m certain they would have stood back and marvelled at what they had achieved when the Tabernacle project was complete, just like Martin and I have.
Here’s the thing, there’s one thing I’ve really taken away from the story of Bezalel and Oholiab, and that is, that neither of them were trying to outdo each other and neither of them were competing against one another. Their hearts were united in working together to produce something great and beautiful.
Let me say now, that I feel this has been exactly the same for Martin and I. And it’s not just for this collaborative project, but for our entire journey as artists. Martin and I have never been in competition with one another, we’ve never tried to outdo each other, we’ve kept our eyes on the prize, and have worked hard, week in and week out, to produce great art.
If you are considering collaborating with another artist on a project together, I recommend you keep this in mind. We can learn from those that the Lord called in the very beginning, that in collaboration there is no place for selfish ambition. It’s a joint undertaking. When people come together for a common goal, when they lay down their own personal interests, and focus on completing the project to the best of their ability, greatness happens. I seem to be saying this a lot lately, but collaboration done like this, is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Now, no post about a collaboration would be complete without contact details of how to find and follow the other artist. So… here’s where you can find Martin on Instagram and on Facebook, just follow the links. Martin is very welcoming and I know you’ll feel at home on his accounts.
Well, that’s our collaboration. What do you think? I know I think it’s been worth it, it’s like, ok… so we just finished a successful collaboration, what’s next for us? The sky’s the limit! Do you believe collaboration is a way forward for yourself? Is there another artist out there that seems to be at the same stage of their freedom journey as you? Can you work together to build each other up? You know I’m all about building each other up, and you can see it’s exactly what Martin and I have been doing.
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Until next time, listen to your heart and sharpen your coloured pencils. A masterpiece awaits!
Bless you my friend