(Part 1) The X Collab: story

- Introduction

- Reflection


The format of the projects that we ran is that two creatives are paired up which both create a new piece of work in relation to the theme in their desired medium. The initial piece is then swapped with the partner and a new piece is created using aspects of the other person's work through collaboration. To submit, the work must be presented to us digitally to make it available to anyone. The submissions have been displayed through exhibitions, social media and publications. To see more, please follow this


My idea for the project began when reflecting on the lack of networking and opportunity for exhibiting with all the restrictions we had to deal with – especially restrictions directly related to education and studio space. I also wanted to develop my graphic design/video making skills further in a more commercial approach. As well as that, I was sure there were other creative students out there that are feeling the same frustration as myself. I always try to learn something from my friends at any time we are creating things together so it’s very possible that this had some influence. Whenever I look at somebody else’s work, I feel a wave of inspiration so the idea of putting two strangers from different institutions/backgrounds/degrees became a fascination for me. This is also directed at the idea of networking. We as a species rely heavily on social media so why not make the most of it? The ways of communicating through social media are very simple but maybe awkward even though it is only some text on a digital device. Meeting someone through social media still feels like a recent concept personally and I am intrigued by it so to be able to make professional connections is something that drives the project as well as the artwork to come from it. 


The platform itself offers people a ‘space’, initially only a digital one. The plan is to make the most of the infinite digital space that we have access to and start putting things from it into the physical world. For example, a publication will be the physical material that will be the result of the digital exhibition, submissions and project altogether. We are all confident we can turn this into a physical show too where the work once only digital embraces a new situation as physical work for people to see. The limitations are still the restrictions we face therefore the exposure is affected. Exposure is much easier to push towards in a digital reality. 


The project was never for self-promotion and the more I reflect on it, the more links I make to my own practice. My interest in spaces and connections between the digital and physical are becoming evident when speaking about the project. At first, it was simply about providing exposure for creative students like myself and encouraging them to make work but now there are realisations that we made something much more than that. As JJ mentioned in one of my tutorials, we are creating an alternative education model where there is a peer to peer learning. By bringing together people from all different creative backgrounds (fine art, graphic design, architecture, fashion, film, etc) and from different institutions, it is guaranteed that their outlook and approach will be different to their partners. It is a belief of mine that our generation is very good at and had to adapt to learning from each other – especially as creatives where even when limited to the bare minimum, we can adapt to the situation.


Another point that relates directly to my practice is the way that people will process data. The process builds on my interest in algorithms specifically placing people in pairs. The brief is very simple – ‘blue’. I can guarantee that no two works will look the same or have the same intentions. My work isn’t necessarily there to answer any questions, it is an encouragement for discussion. I try to reimagine things in a way to makes people think about themselves, their situation or the spaces they are involved in. 


This way of thinking about this project as my own practice is completely new to me. I never thought that encouraging work and education, it would fall under my own art practice. By prompting the participants to collaborate, communicate and produce work it is a way of me producing places for discussion. The physical and digital content shows other people’s work but represents the themes and discussions taking place throughout the project. The idea of people sharing knowledge hopefully influences development as individuals which results in moving forward as a community. 


The X Collab is something I am committed to carrying as a postgraduate. As a collective,  we are very strong, and all have different strengths. With the right approach, I am confident in securing funding to scale this up and get more people involved each time. The figures from the first 2 projects are very encouraging, with around 350 submissions with returning participants. The vision is to create groups and put on crits, discussions, talks, etc. as well as other main projects based around themes each acting as a series. By introducing more ways in which people can communicate and learn from each other, this status of “alternative education model” hopefully sticks. Whilst I directly do not have intentions of criticising the education system directly, our system provides free ways of developing skills. I have struggled at times in university when it comes to creating work and this is my way of helping others overcome the frustration. 

Andrei Damian: The X Collab theme for 01/BLUE
Andrei Damian: The X Collab process
Andrei Damian: Universities from which students participated in The X Collab 01/BLUE project
Andrei Damian: Universities from which students participated in The X Collab 01/BLUE project
Andrei Damian: Setting up for 01/BLUE at Stanley Picker Gallery