After our NYC launch back in July 2013, we decided it was time to go pay our friends a visit over at their Brooklyn studio. We talked about their crazy work schedule, the creative process of making work under pressure and what’s happening now all the dust has settled.
More jump off after the jump off…
So obviously last year was crazy busy for you guys, what’s changing this year?
Miller: I think over the last year and half, it was a really amazing year with back-to-back projects. But everything felt like a constant push.
McNeil: There wasn’t a lot of time to reflect, we were really just trying to play catch up from one show to the next; finishing up one and trying to get our ducks in a row to get the next show up ready to go, because it was all crazy production.
Miller: Which is an amazing experience, because you are really forced to produce and push yourself to make work, you don’t have the luxury of stepping back really and letting things develop in real time. I think as an artist, it’s really important to be pushed like that every now and again and to see how things develop.
But that obviously affects the creative process and stunts it a little if you’re just trying to push things out?
McNeil: It affects it in a good way and a bad way, one way is that you’re just making and going, it takes away the gestation period and time for the work to mature in the studio and you can’t really take in what you’ve learned from it. Art’s literally getting made and then going out the door.
Miller: That’s a challenge, but there’s something really visceral about making like that and really fully putting yourself into it, and the work that we were doing at that time, it was really just about an exploration of what we had been working on for the past few years, so while there were still things that were evolving in it, I feel that we were pretty well-honed in what we were doing, it wasn’t necessarily a brand new body of work, from that standpoint I think we were really ready to create in that way, as far as the creative process goes.
You guys have recurring themes throughout your work, but do you find when it gets that compacted you’re kind of recycling?
Miller: Sometimes, but we made a lot of new images last year, we worked on the ballet theme, the Dallas theme and then Deluxx Fluxx is it’s own show altogether, so we worked on some new games for that, and the digital side of things too, so, looking back, I feel we accomplished an amazing amount. There’s always times when we wish we could have done a little more here and there, but you’ll say that about anything you’ll ever do, I think. I’m really happy with the way it was, just personally I feel there wasn’t a lot of time to reflect.
Do you find it’s becoming more and more of a machine?
Miller: For sure, that’s where you start to develop twelve sets of hands and you’re managing a lot more of the actual process. Anytime you’re taking on a project as big as the tower in Lincoln Center, or the massive exhibition in Dallas and some of the big mural walls, you get used to working on big scales, that’s not something we’re not accustomed to, but it does become a different mind-game. We’re fortunate because there’s two of us and we can manage different aspects of the projects and, at that point last year, we had a really great team helping us pull off some of those projects.
Do you find you fill in the gaps with each others skillsets?
Miller: Really our practice is set up that way already. From long ago we both recognised what we were good at and what we both liked doing too. That’s always been an asset of ours.
And what’s going on right now, what kind of process have you guys got going on at the moment?
McNeil: The beginning of the year’s really just been about taking stock and trying to get more into exploring and taking some chances on canvas. We talked about production last year, where you really can’t make mistakes, because the timelines don’t allow for those, and I think it’s really great to be able to take risks. This year’s about squaring away the studio, cleaning our brains out, stepping back a bit and taking some chances on some artwork in the studio; just resetting a little.
Miller: These kind of times have to happen, the pendulum always has to swing the other way. You can only go so long in one direction before it has to come back and you have to recharge the battery. Through the process of making these things in the past year and half, there were moments where really interesting side things happened, there was a spark all of a sudden, but we couldn’t fully explore down that road because we’d already committed to one direction. So I think at this point, we’ve bottled up all those little sparks and we’re slowly taking them out, throwing them against the wall and seeing what happens. Some of the projects we’re excited about this year are ones that have taken a long time to come around, maybe we’ll have a chance to pull off something big again too. It’s a really honest and true time in the studio, where making mistakes are really important. There’s a lot of canvases and paintings that we’ve put away and will pull out again someday, and some of those are leading to a whole new path, so it’s a fun thing to watch develop. It’s a great moment in that way.