Collaboration: verb 1. to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. (merriam-webster)
It’s not an easy thing. A lot of the time, it is unbearably frustrating to work with others. But in a creative setting, it can also be a source of inspiration. Like the first week anyone begins a meditation practice, you sit in anguish, your joints hurt, you can’t focus your mind because you want to fidget and sometimes yell out-loud. But then, at some point that falls away and you don’t even realize it. You’re just centered, with a smile on your face and a calm in your breathing.
I think collaboration works in a similar way (at least when it works correctly): it starts with a butting of heads, or a lot of side-stepping, which is equally as difficult, and then at some point, the group almost comes to a singular mind. This isn’t to say that you love everything the other people do, it means that ideas become less distinguishable from one another, so you treat them objectively. If someone lays down a mark and you think it doesn’t work, you remove it, or improve it, or elaborate on it – and they do the same. There is still a competitive nature, but no more than someone competes with themselves. Here’s the difference though, it’s not a singular mind, it’s multiple minds bent at the task, and the result can be incredibly satisfying with others to share it with.
Here’s an example of a multiple week collaborative project I worked on in 2009 or 2010, with two other (at the time) art students. The finished product is titled Does a white collar make you lose your dreams?
The above image is of me working on some final touches, to give you a size reference. I think it was somewhere in the 6ft x 5ft. range. If you’re wondering what my main contributions were, they were the moon, and the shape of the primary figure, which was laid down in tape and removed upon completion.