There comes a time in every artist’s journey when they are faced with a collaboration! Working with a fellow artist(s) can be exciting but sometimes intimating. A level of unknown comes with the addition of another party to any equation. Many are apprehensive to collaborate due to various reasons but sometimes, being in set in your own way leaves you stagnate. Unless you’re superwoman (hint: nobody is), you WILL need to work with others to propel your art endeavors forward. Here are some steps to think about when you're finally ready to collaborate.
Be open to potential and possibility
My rule of thumb is, everyone has one shot for a collaboration, including myself. This means a clean slate. Hear out all collaboration inquiries. It's as simple as reading an email or message or asking about their thoughts and directions. Lets be honest, it doesn't take that much out of your day to be open to collaborations. If you like what you see or hear, you can move forward and take the necessary next steps. It's always good to hear new ideas and brainstorm. You never know where these ideas can take you or someone else.
Be prepared with a plan of action
Have a plan and bring some ideas to the table initially, as opposed to after the fact. Think of the first few interactions as similar to an elevator speech, where your first impression in a limited time and space is essential. Make sure the potential collaboration is purposed and meaningful, not just for fun and leisure. Also, make sure to add value to the other person/party while not losing your own. You don’t have to gain something from every collaboration as long as you don’t damage your brand. There’s nothing wrong with helping someone else. In fact, many brands start and progress through their business cycle from the help of other brands. Collaboration is about building a relationship AND the product, event, etc. Always pay it forward. Someone helps you, help someone else. They can both be wins in the long-term!
Follow up and maintain the relationship
This is so important! The deeper the relationship, the more powerful the collaboration. Every industry is as big or small as you make it. Everyone remembers good and bad collaborations. Always operate in the fashion that there's room for everyone - your karma will thank you. Chances are, you're going to run into fellow artists/collaborators again and have more opportunities for additional work in the future. Even if you don't immediately, you can rest assure that you have a new colleague/network that can vouch for your work. Also, check on your old collaborators just because. Aside from our art and business ventures, we're all human. Inquire about their new projects and life events simply because it feels good. Good deeds go a long way and sometimes we need friendly reminders or words of encouragement to keep our creativity flowing.
If you feel any bad vibes, get out
Communication is key for just about everything! Not everyone sees or appreciates your vision as you do and that’s not necessarily a about thing. You want to be aligned with healthy perspectives and mutual respect as much as possible. That should be a requirement, the bare minimum. So if it doesn’t work out, it’s okay… bow out early as possible and don’t take it personal. In general, the less you take personal, the less you will dwell on things/situations/people you can't change. Move on and maintain focus on your goals. Your intuition will always favor your intentions.
Lastly, know that you will have good collaborations and bad collaborations. You'll receive many responses for some and no responses for others. All are necessary for growth. Honestly, it's trial and error so don't be too hard on yourself either. Bad collaborations teach you what to not to do in the future and good collaborations promote growth, reaffirm your purpose, and ultimately overshadow all of the bad collaborations (I promise). It's a process that we all have to get used to and leverage for the best. Don't be afraid to reach out to people and/or accept collaboration requests. The sooner you realize that you do need people, the easier it will be to accept help and help others as a bi-product, just like any other type of relationship. You're always one 'yes' away from achieving your next goals whether it's from you or someone else. Cheers to amazing collaborations!