Collaboration – The Wacky Artist Game
The successful, creative, solitary artist is a mythical creature. Yeah, that’s right. I’m blowing the lid off of this hot-button fallacy right in front of your very eyes. Can you take it?
I’m not saying some creative types, even successful ones, aren’t anti-social or even loaners. I’ve been there myself. What I’m saying is at some point, if you want to be a successful artist creatively, you’re going to have to collaborate.
There are exceptions. You could just take still life and self portrait photographs, shoot only landscape or industrial videos, and if that’s your passion go for it. But you are likely missing out on a whole world of possibilities. When you work with other people they can really fuck everything up. Yeah. I dropped an F bomb. That’s because I mean it. But just as people who are not 100% under your mind control can throw a poop in the pool, so can they turn a turd into a tiara.
I now move deeper into the explanation. My personal opinion when it comes to creative art, be it photography, film making, painting, music, or plastic surgery is that the best of the best tells a story. It juices the emotional reaction of your audience. Narratives let you make the funny stuff funnier, the sad stuff sadder, and the scary stuff scarier. So if you’re telling stories with your photography or films at some point you’re likely going to need a model or an actor, someone to help you hold a microphone or buy the booze. Whatever it is, you’re likely to benefit by popping out of your bubble or letting the world in.
Sure, some collaborations can go wrong, end in a murder suicide. But those are a very small percentage (under 35% for sure). And even the ones that don’t end with carnage can sometimes just fizzle. But it’s like anything else worth anything else. You’ve got to work hard if you want it to work. Start collaborating right now and you’ll eventually build up a list of people that you not only enjoy working with, but trust will help take you and your art to the next level. You want to get to the next level, don’tcha?
I’m not saying you have to cook up the idea together with someone else, or let them tell you how to light it, or whatever. I just mean get some models or actors or a stylist or storyboard artist. Stop just doing self portraits. Don’t stop doing them altogether, just stop doing them exclusively. Let these people contribute, in fact demand it (you know, nicely), not to your job, but to theirs. Tell them what you want and let them interpret it into something better than you imagined. If they aren’t giving you what you need, direct them, but be open to something more than you asked for.
Collaboration isn’t about everyone involved having equal say in every step. That would be madness! It’s about finding people who bring a different perspective, skill, and smell to your project, adding 1+1 and getting 2.5. Give people specific responsibilities and then give them room within that responsibility to be amazing. Maybe even let it overflow a bit.
Hey, it could take three minutes to find your perfect collaborator(s) – it could be your neighbor Danny living next door with his 39 cats quietly sipping on Yoo-Hoo and gin – or it could take you 10 years. But you’ll never know until you start asking. Better start asking. And keep your hands off of Danny. He’s mine!