Spark and Inspire Question #1: Are Collaborations a Good Idea?

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Collaborations: a good idea?

Every journey starts with a separation, a leave-taking, a realization that
the place you are right now is a place where you can no longer stay.
Justine Musk

In 2011, it seemed that everything I was creating was a collaborative effort.
I lived outside of the United States for the majority of 2010. So when I
arrived home I found myself saying YES TO ANYTHING my friends were
working on in an effort to reconnect.

I created and executed a preschool program for a small start up church. I
co-facilitated a support group for women called “Mending the Soul.” I
illustrated my first children’s book with a friend. None of them went well.
In fact, these friendships still feel strained to this day (I actually wrote a 4
week course on collaboration as a result of this experience!).

You have heard it said that it is best NOT TO work with friends. And for a
while after these experiences I would have said AMEN to that. But today I
think that I would try again but I would take what I have learned from
those past collaborations and walk into future ones more wisely.

Here is what I know:

-the power structure of the collaboration must be firmly established. None
of the tasks can be ambiguously left for someone to organically decide who
is responsible for them.

-if monetary investments are involved, KNOW that the one with the money
holds the power; it is no longer collaboration.

-decide IN ADVANCE whose ass is on the line is something doesn’t get
done. Taking ownership and responsibility ESPECIALLY for the main parts of
the project are MANDATORY

-DECIDE UP FRONT what the non-negotiables are for the project for each
party involved and THEN DECIDE if it is a good idea to go forward.
With these four keys fleshed out beforehand, I think that even friends can
work together with minimal strain on the relationship.

Kelly Thiel:

I do think that collaborations are a good idea. Sometimes when two artists
get together, a beautiful synergy is created. Ideas just flow and wonderful
things can happen. It's also a great way to reach out to other audiences
that you may not normally interact with. I would say that a blog hop is a
sort of collaboration, just an online one with many contributing artists!

My favorite type of collaboration though, is when two artists in different
mediums get together to create a single (or multiple!) piece(s) of art.
Integrating both mediums and working off each other's design, the two
artists come together to create one finished piece.

Jan Avellana:

Yes, I think collaborations have the potential to further relationships
between artists as well as help promote both our own artwork, and the
artwork of our fellow artists. The trick, I think, is to find a right fit, someone
who shares our values, our aesthetic or at the very least, someone who we
feel we can work with in a give and take fashion. As yet, I haven’t worked
on any truly collaborative projects, but I certainly look forward to it in the

Nolwenn Petitbois:

I have never done a collaborative piece of art yet. But it is something that
crosses my mind from time to time when I see amazing artwork by other
artists that decided to jump and collaborate with someone else.

However, I have created collaborative art journals via Round Robins and
got mixed emotions with it. Some pages got lost; some entire journals were
never received… I guess this is something that can happen unfortunately.
Over all, it was a nice thing to receive pages from different people from all
over the World, in styles sometimes far from mine which is very interesting
as well.

Collaboration can be scary if you don’t know the other artist well, if you
don’t have the same view of what the final piece should be. BUT it is also
something very exciting knowing that another artist will add his/her own
personal touch and then release it to the world with you. And I think it is a
good idea as it offers the possibility of receiving more exposure thanks to
the artists with whom you collaborate. It can bring new customers that
may not have known about you otherwise.

Kelly Warren:

My experience with collaborations has been fairly limited, and I’m not sure
the experience I did have would be considered a true collaboration, but I’ll
share it and let you decide!

In 2008, I did a large Fat Book Swap. There were ten women involved and
ten themes. The idea was to create 10 cards of each theme (basically the
same 4 x 4 card 10 times), meaning we each created 100 total 4 x 4 cards.
We then sent everything to the person doing the organizing, the wonderful
Roni ( I was amazed at how quickly
Roni gathered each participant's work and sent us out back out a 100-card
package of wonderfulness! I had a special box custom crafted to keep my
full set in and enjoy looking back through them often.

This collaboration was a challenge for me as I’d just gotten started in mixed
media, but it really pushed me to try new things and I found that I really
enjoyed the 4 x 4 format. The deadlines pushed me a little bit, but only
having to come up with one design for each theme (even though I had to
create 10 of each design) helped some. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I
learned tons of new techniques, made some great blog friends, and have a
beautiful box chock full of 100 pieces of original art to show for it! You can
see my entries in the collaboration at this link:


Alease McClenningham:

Collaboration is the best idea for those wanting to reach a wider audience.
I strongly believe that when you start out in any type of business it is to
vital to seek out others who like your work and are familiar with you as a
person. Friends and family are the best people to start with in the
collaboration process because they will spread the word about your
business, which will then be shared with other liked minded people.

Jean Simrose:

Collaboration: working with someone to produce or create something;
partnership; joint intellectual effort; to cooperate.

I am collaborative by nature. Being an extrovert I solidify new ideas for my
jewelry business by talking to other people. Making connections with
people, coming up with ideas, bringing variety to my work are all positives
for me. I enjoy the company of others and sometimes need the challenge
they bring to express my creativity fully and gain confidence in my work.

So far I have taken new classes to satisfy my need to collaborate. One of
my goals is to find a “group” that I fit in where I have similar-minded
people to collaborate with. I am always looking for ways to improve my
work and connect with others. My jewelry business depends on it to
succeed. People have to like the jewelry I create in order to want to buy it!

Leanne Wargowsky:

"If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human
relationships -the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the
same world at peace." -Franklin D. Roosevelt.

And so my belief goes . . . are collaborations a good idea? Most definitely
YES! From music (Lennon& McCartney) to dancing (Astaire& Rogers), ice
cream (Ben & Jerry) to computers (Hewlett & Packard), the list of amazingly
successful collaborations is long and wide. I am a strong believer of
strength in numbers, and any time two creative souls gather . . . I am
certain great things will come of it. My most successful creative endeavors
have been born out of idea bouncing and feedback that I have received
from another. Setting responsibilities and boundaries are so important in
the process. But once established, the sky is the limit. Anyone interested in
collaborating? Call me! ;)

Sonya McCllough:

I have been blessed with the ability to generate some awesome ideas
through prayer. Ideas are abundantly mine. Just for the asking. Conceptual
thinking is my gift. The ability to get a project done is also a gift I have been
blessed with. While not considering an all important detail is my greatest
weakness. This is why I love Collaborations. When women collaborate, they
simply get more done and get more done efficiently.


Collaborations: a good idea?

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