It was during the dying embers of 2013 (Remember that? How young we were…) when this little book dropped through our letterbox and it’s fair to say it’s had me engaged, engrossed and utterly charmed ever since. You Are The Friction is the latest release from Sing Statistics, the independent publishers run by illustrator Lizzy Stewart and designer Jez Burrows (once of this parish).
The idea behind it is pretty simple; 12 illustrators provide drawings to 12 writers who create short stories inspired by them. Then the process is reversed; the writers send over stories from which the illustrators produce images. But such a sterile description in no way does this very special project justice.
As Sean Michaels writes in the book’s introduction: “Partnerships are fragile. they last as long as they last. In amassing these pages, artists and writers traded something… These aren’t just little trifles, confections of character and image and Jennifer Love Hewitt references: they are the remains of partnerships, proofs of puddings, what’s left after the intimacy has passed, and you look up from your desk, and the light’s not quite as you imagined it.”
The contributors are first rate; the illustrators include Oliver Jeffers, Hannah Waldron, Rob Hunter and Tom Gauld while Evie Wyld, Michael Crowe, Craig Taylor and Richard Milward are among those who provide the prose. And the fruits of their collaborations are frequently even more impressive than the sum of their parts; the book is full of moments of creative confluence that get the heart alternatively racing and stopping. Terrific stuff, and a high bar for books in 2014.