Best Practice: Creative Collaboration
In a creative industry such as fashion, collaboration is just a part of everyday life - from working with photographers, to communicating with clients. So we thought it would be useful to outline what we have found to be some of the ways in collaboration is optimised.
1. Don’t make things personal
A common mistake amongst new entrants to any creative industry, is that they will see everything they make as an extension of themselves - this not only make creating things emotionally exhausting, but it also means that criticism is hard to face. In his book, Creativity Inc., Ed Catmull (2004) talks about distancing yourself from your creation to allow for it to grow and develop with other people’s input and criticism. Criticism is an incredibly important part of any journey and so allowing for it to enhance your work will only serve to benefit you. So collaborations need to separate the personal from the physical creation.
2. Leave your ego out of your work
This follows on from the first point - collaboration, at its best, has a horizontal structure, thinking your above or even below anyone will reduce creativity of thought and action.
3. Have a joint vision
Nothing erodes a business relationship quicker than when people aren’t on the same page with regards to where a project is heading. A great tool to match up creative visions is to develop a customer narrative around what you’re creating e.g. who’ll benefit from this project, why do they use the product, what’s their name and how do they live?
4. Have clear intentions
Whoever you’re collaborating with needs to know what they’re delivering, when they’re delivering it, and how they’re doing it. This clarity not only allows for greater efficiency when working on projects, but it’ll also reduce friction between collaborators and give people creative space.
5. Give time and space for being creative
We’re all in this industry for the same reason, to create, and something worth creating takes time and effort. To best prepare for this, thought needs to be put into what we’re embarking upon. When we give time and space to being creative, with whoever we’re working with, we not only allow independent thought to flourish, but we also respect artistic individuality.
6. Be clear about parameters
Creation is an incredibly fluid process but defining parameters for a project not only allows for more focus on a collective vision, but it also increase the efficiency with which everyone works.
7. Assigning a point person
Generally, people are eager for this position or they’ll shy away, but it’s crucial to assign this role early on. Many creative projects entail multiple moving parts, from financing, to supplies, to execution - what really helps is to have some who’s keeping track of all this.
8. Money talks
Now, while a lot of us in the creative space may have our own thoughts on the subject of money, there should be payment for creative work - this not only means paying for materials but also a wage/invoice for the project itself. This will not only give greater accountability but will also give greater freedom of thought to independent artistic processes as there’s less concern about the issue of payment.