What is a Round Robin?? Have you seen that term and wondered what it might mean? Do you have a vague idea, but you’re not quite sure?? Round Robins (RRs) are similar to, but very different from swaps. In a swap, participants send items they’ve created on a theme to the host of the swap. The host exchanges the item(s) she receives and swaps different ones back to the participants. Usually the items are mailed to the participants (who sent in postage or money for their swap returns). There is just one deadline date for the items to be in the hands of the swap host.
A round robin is different because this is an exchange where something is sent from one person to another to another, and often multiple items are being sent at the same time. Because of this, there are several mailing deadlines in order to get all of the items sent to everyone in the round robin. The host of the RR will decide mailing deadlines and helps to keep everyone on track, mailing in a timely fashion. The host can decide a theme and any rules. The host will organize the mailing list and collect contact info from the participants. The host of an RR is like a conductor.
How a RR works: Each person will add to/alter the art before sending it to the next participant. This often happens on a monthly basis, although it could be more frequent. There is a mailing list, and it’s common that you will mail to the same person every round. Take for example, an Altered Book (AB) RR. You might be required to do a full page spread in each altered book that you receive before sending it to the next artist. Also, the item being sent does not have to be an altered book! You could send fabric books, altered calendars, fabric bags, artists’ books or journals, decos (small decorative booklet), canvas panels, a large piece of watercolor paper, or anything else you can dream up!
Typically, everyone in the RR will start sending their own item with their own theme. The items are sent to each person in the group following a mailing list. Everyone will work on each item sent to them and then send it to the next person until the item has returned back home to its owner; a glorious day! Doing a RR this way is called a ‘serial’ round robin. Sometimes you will find RRs where the host asks for participants to alter just one item that she will start, instead of everyone starting with an item. Just this one item belonging to the host is sent around to the agreed upon participants to get altered or added to until it comes back home to the host. You are contributing to one project only, not starting a project yourself or working on any others.
One of the best things about an RR is that you get to see other artists work up close and in person. Photos and scans of art that are uploaded to a website are wonderful, but do not compare to seeing it in person. When contributing to a RR you may find you develop a connection with one or more of the artists in the group because you like their work so much. This sometimes leads to another type of RR exchange, a one-on-one exchange; you and one other artist work back and forth on one or two projects. This can be very invigorating and inspiring for both artists. I have done this with both paper books and fabric books and found it a wonderful experience.
For me, the benefits of an RR are:
Deadlines to create (I thrive on these). If you DO NOT do well with deadlines, then an RR might not be for you.
Connections with other artists. Seeing other artists work in person that speaks to you may lead you to more personal connections.
Inspiration and ideas for new art from the other art in the exchange.
Learning new techniques from other artists in the RR. You may even be able to ask them about it, if emails are shared.
Contributing and giving of your self to a group piece of artwork that someone (the originating owner) will appreciate and cherish.
Receiving a remarkable piece of art back home when the exchange is over!
Disadvantages of an RR:
The biggest and only disadvantage of an RR that I can think of would an RR where the host is not organized. Yes, life happens and things don’t always go as we planned, but if the RR host communicates with everyone and everyone communicates with the host, the group will do fine. Communication and organization really helps to avoid any problems. The host should personal information such as: full name, mailing address, email and telephone, even if the participants are known to the host. It’s important to have this info available should a mailing problem arise.
For a successful RR:
Participants should be briefed on all the particulars of the RR: how often they will be expected to mail, the costs of each mailing (approximately) and most importantly, the amount of commitment needed from each player – how much work is expected to be done & how often. The RRs that I have been in or hosted myself have been the most successful when communication and reminders of mailing dates were sent out via a group email or through a yahoo group. Often, artwork is also shared this way.
Suggestions on how to Join or Host an RR:
To join a RR, look for calls on websites like art-e-zine:
or online art groups like artchix studio: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/artchixstudio/
Talk to your art friends, on-line or in person, and see if anyone is up for organizing a RR or hosting one. If YOU want to host an RR - First, decide what kind of RR you want to host! Altered Book? Fabric Book? An Artists Journal? A painted canvas?
Next, figure out the rules. If it is a book, how many pages will everyone alter or create each round? You also must think about other parameters like how often the mailing will be and what the rules are in relation to if someone can’t make a mailing or is late. I have a rule that the item needs to be mailed by the mailing date regardless of whether it has been worked in or not. You also have to think about if you will set a theme for the whole group?? Will each participant set their own theme?? Will you ask everyone to sign their work? Will they be allowed to work on top of or alter someone’s work that came before them, or not? When I participated in a 22” x 30” watercolor paper collage RR hosted by Sylvia Luna, it was imperative that you could and would work over what had been done before you! To learn more about this, see the article published in Cloth Paper Scissors, Summer 2006, titled “Artists make their Mark” on pg. 40.
Where appropriate, sign-in pages allow you to have a signature from all the artists who worked on your collaborative RR piece. Sometimes the artist will decorate a tag or create an ATC or some other small work of art that is attached or slips into a pocket on your sign-in page. If your RR is something other than a book, like the altered fabric bags I did, then your sign-in sheet can be a separate piece of paper or a booklet that slips inside. You can also use this space to let the participants know your theme, any notes about what you would like or NOT LIKE to see on your piece, as well as a place for them to sign-in and write any notes about what they have created for you. When I did the watercolor paper collage, we all simply wrote notes and signed on the back of the paper. Whatever works or you can imagine!
This is 1/2 of a different 1 on 1 RR exchange I did with Ann Peterson, January - October 2003.
We also worked on an altered Book I started. These pictures show the Butterfly Accordion artists book that Ann started our exchange with. We both worked in this book and my altered book at the same time.
Note: Ann-Lenna Butterfly Book. Ann did both of these pages but she did something we both ended up doing a lot. She used a card I made and sent to her (on the right - that is a picture of me as a little girl) and she put it in the book as part of the page.
Ann Lenna Butterfly Book2 both Ann and Lenna's work on both pages
ButterflyBook.and ButterflyBook10.Lenna's work
AnnLennaBook03 when the book was done. I flew from CT to CA to meet Ann and we finished the book - that is her patio!
Lenna Butterfly Book Lenna's work, but I am using items top right that Ann stamped!
Check List! When hosting a Swap or Round Robin, a message to the participants should include:
Swap name or theme
Email info for the hostess
Addresses of all participants, emails, and possibly phone numbers
Rules for sending - does it go priority mail, registered, insured?
Dates for sending, all deadlines
Who to contact if there is an emergency or book will be delayed
The book themes; rules for group.
For more examples of Round Robins I have participated in, please see my website:
Lenna Andrews, Avon, CT
:: website: http://www.creativelenna.com
::: blog-new art: http://creativelenna.blogspot.com/
::: Flicker Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/creativelenna ::: PictureTrail: http://www.PictureTrail.com/lennastamp (archive)
Art Chix Fabric Round
Color Construction - Large watercolor RR
This was Sylvia Luna's RR that I was in, was an article about it in Clothe Paper Scissors Summer 2006.
A large 22" x 30" watercolor paper RR.
1 on 1 Round Robin
Canvas Board Round Robin
4 participants - Lenna Andrews, Lise Steenerson, Patti Gramza and Susan Richards . . .
we each started with our own canvas - the photos show my canvas . . .
Canvas0- my start
Canvas05 - Susan Richards adds
Lenna Home - the canvas is home with Lise's work top left and Patti's work bottom left!
1 on 1 Fabric Book RR
These are photos from a fabric book RR one on one exchange, Ann Peterson & myself.
The Star Book is my book that I started for this exchange & the Botanica Book is Ann's book that she started.We worked on each other's book and in our own books - January 2004 - October 2004
See Ann's Botanic Book Here
Deco Round Robin
This is a Deco RR I did through Creative Chixs - This is my deco, how I started it and everyone else's work that was added - all the photos are labeled. I chose the theme of Family.
Fabric Bag Round Robin
4 Participants: Lenna Andrews, Chris Peden, Marla Rosenlieb & Ann Peterson
I am showing my fabric bag only & the additions made to it!
Altered Book Round Robin
This is Clarissa Sharp's book from one of the art-e-zine RRs!
See more Altered Books here