Blog: Joseph Hillary and Jahday Ford

An unlikely alliance of a glassblower (Ford) and a digital designer (Hillary) can be seen in a new exhibition, Breathe. Here they offer their top tips for productive collaboration

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Be honest with each other
The beauty of collaboration is that multiple ideas and values can come together and learn from each other. But sometimes if something isn’t resonating with you, it’s healthy to just be honest with each other. Don’t sweep your opinions under the carpet for them to bite your motivation and belief in your project later down the line.

Jahday Ford: “The most important and most surprising factor of collaboration for me is the developmental impact you can have on the other person. Joseph and I are very different makers and we were challenged to think completely differently, far outside our comfort zones.”

Joseph Hillary: “Although mine and Jahday’s personal work is very different, we found our naïve sense of curiosity about each other’s practice really helped push our ideas in new directions.”

Be empathetic and understanding of other ideas
Whilst honesty is the best policy, it must be delivered in the right way. It can turn relationships stale if you criticise in the wrong way. Empathy is key in the resolution of multiple opinions coming together. You must be truly understanding of what others have to say so that you can either take it on board or be able to fully explain and criticise constructively.

JH: “It is normal to feel protective over your ideas. Even if full-on collaboration isn’t for you, there is still the power of convocation. So, if you’re stuck as to where to take a painting or what colours to use in your crochet then why talk through your ideas with someone? You never know what you might get out of it.”

Stay visual
Working in the design field, we found it essential to stay visual with our ideas, even if it was simply drawing on a napkin. Visual communication is an extremely powerful tool for getting others to fully understand your ideas. We feel that this can still be used in any sector and by any ability. Even if you don’t feel confident drawing, just take your time and it could even help you understand your own ideas better.

JF: “My typical methods of craft making whilst on the three-dimensional design course were instantly enlightened during Joe’s programming processes in the early stages of Breathe. I was exposed to a new digital world while watching Joe click through endless steps in the Solidworks computer modeling program.”

Keep communication of development constant
Any project is a real journey, but it is essential for you to share any bits of progress with each other and celebrate even the smallest of victories. There are numerous messaging platforms, from Whatsapp to Slack, that can really keep communication fluid and stop anyone from being in the dark.

JH: “For me the greatest aspect of this collaboration has been the inspiration and confidence that you can give to each other. Often, I find my own thoughts around my work can become static and hard to push forward, like writer’s block, so for me to work alongside another very creative person can help keep things fluid and exciting.”

Really believe in your idea and be willing to go the extra mile for it
Projects can be long and have numerous hurdles for you to overcome as a group, but if you truly believe in your idea this can really radiate a good morale onto everyone else.

JF: “A challenge for me was to successfully communicate the digital process through hot glass, somehow making sure each step would work. One vital development stage involved ensuring a piece stands as a functional vase, yet the original process developed an annoying bubble on the end of the piece. We stuck with it, finding out that blowing less air in the bubble allowed its inner colour form to distort in the most fascinating ways. In the end, this design flaw within the mould created a method of applying Breathe’s base in a functional yet aesthetically pleasing manner. It proved how well you could develop and communicate between two diverse processes through experimentation and keeping faith.”

Breathe is at Manchester Craft and Design Centre until Sat 12 May 2018

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