Creative Conversations: MaricorMaricar + Bompas & Parr
Neither pair is a conventional creative duo. MaricorMaricar works mostly in thread and fabric, and Bompas & Parr specializes in creating grand and bizarre interactive food experiences. We’re looking for more creatives of this calibre: enter Young Guns 11 here.
Bompass and Parr: How did you guys get started?
MARICORMARICAR: Our background is actually in design. We never learned how to do this embroidery work until this job came into this studio we worked at. A band wanted a music video animated. Our boss had seen this embroidered artwork and since we had never seen embroidered animation before we decided to try doing it.
We didn’t pick up embroidery again for a while, until we started working for ourselves as designers who focus on illustration and hand made graphics. It was actually just for fun. We didn’t do it for a specific job. Maricar had this lyric stuck in her head that she just wanted to try sewing. And we just showed it to a couple of people. Everyone was really into it because it’s something that you don’t normally see. Everyone just kept wanting to touch it. We’ve noticed that with your projects you don’t stage them in conventional places. How do these spaces come up?
BP: In terms of location finding, it’s always a grand challenge because there are a very few number of spaces that let you do crazy things and they’re typically used all the time and everyone is so bored of them. So that just means you have a very jaded audience. So we keep our ear to the ground. We have a network of gallery museum curators, people who work in the property industry developers, and architects. They’ll often know if there is a weird unused space that is slightly unexpected and they’ll give us a heads up.
I think one of the exciting things about the time we live in now is that there is a willingness from corporations and landowners to be a bit more open and creative about what they do to fill it. Not least of all because of the economic climate. They’re struggling for tenants. One of the things that kickstarted our business was the economy sort of dropping out. All these people with all these spaces had to basically pay tax on them if they were kept empty because of policies put in place by the last government. And then at the same time there was a need for people to have fun stuff to do.
MM: Your projects mix cuisine, art, theatre and science. How did that all come about? Your education is different than what you do now, so what made you take that jump?
BP: It was just for fun. It started out just doing things we loved. We had a hobby, which was making jelly. And we were trying to sell it to everyone. And then we tried to give it away to everyone. And eventually through continually pushing it out there people started to become interested. There’s never really been any plan. We’ve just been doing things we find interesting, but that will only ever work if other people find it interesting. We both read loads and loads and loads.
We have a massive library of weird and wonderful things that are sort of related to food, like The Drag Queen’s Cookbook and we just got White Trash Cooking which has the most amazing, beautiful photography. That’s often the start of any process. Going through loads of books and loads of films and seeing how they all go together, what the implications might be for whatever it is.
MM: How long does a project take from conception to execution?
BP: The rooftop lake we did took fourteen weeks. From getting approached to actually getting it up and running. That was probably a bit too short. That was a bit more exciting than we might have liked. But on the other hand I find, that if you have projects that go on for a year, it just gets kind of stale, so it’s good if there is a pump of adrenaline to get you really excited. Do you have an ideal timeline for a project?
MM: Well for us, what we do is labor intensive and it’s specific to the actual design and we don’t know the design until we start. Generally we need at least two weeks to turn things around. So we don’t have anything that’s too long a time span. It’s mainly just trying to coordinate it between the two of us. We don’t do any machine work, we do everything by hand. Sometimes we describe ourselves as a tag team. Sometimes we try to squeeze a whole month’s worth of work in a week and do shift work. That’s kind of how we operate sometimes.
BP: How do you divide work? Do you both have similar skills?
MM: In terms of the illustration and the embroidery we have the same skills. If we’ve shared a project, you won’t be able to see who did which part. Sometimes we also do video work so we’ll split that up. We do share a lot of the work. We experimented with one of us working in London and one of us working in Sydney and just using Skype as an in-between. It sort of worked, but we find that we need to be in the same space. We do all the brainstorming and idea generation together and we can’t really do that unless we’re sitting at the same table and we’ve got doodles that we can pass between us.
Is it a similar collaboration between you guys?
BP: Yeah, we once moved our desks apart and it was disastrous. We started off working literally at my kitchen table and then we got a nice big studio. We were working in different parts of the studio and realized that no work was getting done whatsoever so now we sit right next to one another. So we’re a lot more productive. Harry and I have different sets of expertise. Harry’s trained as an architect so he has more tangible skills than I do. He does a lot more design work and I do a lot more of the talking. Which is a lot of fun. I go to a lot of meetings, which I quite enjoy.
MM: How much of a brief are you given from the client? Do they come with an idea of what they want, or do they give you free reign?
BP: That’s a funny one. For the first three years we made up our own briefs all the time. We didn’t really have any clients. Now we are working with bigger and bigger companies. They give a more involved brief. We probably turn down about three or four things every day. The client needs to have a good understanding of the sorts of things we like doing and why we like doing them. Ultimately our goal is to cause people to get really excited and have a really good time. If they want to be safe in what they are doing then you know that ultimately when the installation happens they’re not going to happy because people aren’t going to go bananas for it because it’s something they’ve seen before. So we spend quite a bit of time choosing the briefs and choosing who we’re going to work with.