“Andy [Miller] is one of my favorite videographers in the city,” celebrated Detroit-based artist and graphic designer, Ellen Rutt confirms; “When I invited him over and explained the concept- ‘we wanna trash this thing I built,’ he totally got it. It really couldn’t have been more comfortable and fun working with him.” Watch the exclusive premiere of “Making A Mess” and read on for an interview with the featured artists below.
“Making A Mess” is part-documentary, part-art film, and part behind-the-scenes says filmmaker Andrew Miller; “really- it’s just something fun to make and equally fun to watch.” When Rutt first contacted the founder of We The Commitee, she “had a big white wall, extra paint, and plans to make something and paint with fellow artist and collaborator Patrick Ethen-” he was intrigued. Rutt, who refers to her current painting style as “Mixed-media shape orgies,” admits that her work has become increasingly abstract.
The Committee is a newly-launched creative outlet focused on collaborating with upcoming artists. This film project came to fruition after he experienced the tragic loss of his brother. Now, his focus is on creating new work that continues to take him out of his comfort zone. The name is derived from an inside family joke along with the hashtag #wethecommittee, originally tagged in family photos in tribute.
Miller laments, “It was an honor to be welcomed into their [studio] space, [experiencing] the whole process of working with new people and trusting each other. Not knowing exactly what we’re making but knowing it’s going to be something fun. He explains–
Unfortunately I don’t often get to make a mess- that’s why this process was so fun- to be able see their process up close, they just started creating and dancing. There wasn’t much talking between us once they started, I acted as the silent third party and let them do what they do.
Ellen explains that the process of creating the end result was, “Completely spontaneous. Every time Patrick and I paint a mural together, we share this fantasy of just wreaking havoc… spilling paint everywhere and creating total chaos. But, no client has ever willingly let us do that (yet). I created an all-white stage for a photo-shoot, and when the shoot was over, I wanted to ruin the set and Patrick was equally enthusiastic: it was never about the end result – exclusively the experience.”
The duo gave themselves one hour of drippy hedonism, and whatever happened within that time is what they had created. The cut-out shapes making various appearances throughout the film were also left over from the photo-shoot, they were laying around so they decided to incorporate them. “Honestly, I don’t know if I even brushed my teeth before we started filming,” Ethen mused regarding the playful concept-turned-classic cinematic art moment.
The film’s fun, sexy sound was inspired by a Spotify playlist Ellen made called ‘Making a Mess,’ full of upbeat, dance music from different genres. To match the energy in the film, Miller decided to choose the remix track, The Key, by Erno the Inferno Mix feat. Lisa Stocking created by Detroit’s own Lord Scrummage. “I was at a house party in Paris a few years ago, and I put that on and everyone went a little crazy. I’ve always thought that it needed to become a staple at dance parties so hopefully people stop sleeping on it.”
How important is being Messy as an Artist? Do you like making a Mess?
Ellen Rutt: One of my favorite parts about being an artist is that I have an excuse to be dirty and disheveled pretty much all of the time.
Innovation is impossible without experimentation- you discover stuff about yourself or your process, that you literally had no idea existed and would’ve never realized otherwise. -Patrick Ethen
PE: I, for example, had never before poured paint on the floor and flopped my feet in it and squished it between my toes. But now I know– it’s kinda nice.
How do two artists with different practices and mediums work together as a team so easily?
ER: I think at it’s core, we have the same strange sense of humor and we are close friends, so it’s fun to work together. Collectively, we are able to explore new territory and accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to do alone.
But it’s not always easy! We both have strong personalities and often get in heated debates, but the arguments never last long and being able to work through a disagreement and feel comfortable voicing an opinion or openly dissenting a decision is incredibly valuable in a collaborative relationship.
PE: I think a big part is knowing when to be active and when to be passive. Sometimes it’s the Ellen Show; sometimes it’s the Patrick Show.
Whose idea was it to paint each other?
PE: When we paint murals [together] it’s common to end up with so much paint on our clothes (and spilled in Ellen’s car) that by the end we’re kind of camouflaged elements of the Art. We’ve joked about video documentaries of our process that would be totally absurd: where I’m spaced out and there’s drool pooling out of my mouth, and I’m like, “fap-fap-fapping” the wall with my brush; except the wall is actually Ellen- and there’s drool pouring out of her mouth too, because she’s daydreaming about carrots with hummus. And we’re both wildly dehydrated and crispy with sunburn— but this is how the magic happens— so you don’t question it…
What’s the best thing about painting without boundaries off the walls!—on faces, people, clothing, and floors!
ER: It’s fun and important for me to totally detach from the outcome. It feels liberating to not take my art so seriously, and it’s also satisfying on a physical, visceral level – to smoosh paint around with your feet, and make big full body gestures with a roller in hand so you can trace your movements.
What is Patrick’s best color on him?
ER: Le peche.
What is Ellen’s best color on her?
PE: Le peche.
This is what every project looks like behind the scenes, right?
ER: Metaphorically, yes… and literally– this is what my car looks like after every project.
PE: Yeah, and what my room looks like every day of my life.
What’s the best single word to describe the vision for this mood or emotion that you ended up going with?
The Committee currently is working on various other projects, including an upcoming party event featuring a short film for Detroit designer Lindsay Cashews and Cy Tulip for SKNDLSS. Additional works in-progress are for clients including Brightly Twisted, Third Wave Music, a highly-anticipated sound & sculpture art piece with Sophie Eisner and Alex Kaye (of Valley Hush), and– a new music video with a special unnamed artist.
Stay tuned to all of the upcoming releases from The Committee here.