Both my husband Kal Honey and I are artists and art instructors. In our previous careers we worked together as designers and art directors, including running our own little design studio for many years.
Our friendship began many years ago at a publishing company where we began to collaborate regularly on design (marketing and editorial) projects. It worked. Our differences made for interesting results. We discussed our way through points of disagreement. Project by project, the process became increasingly organic (including the inevitable bumps in the road!).
Since switching our focus from design to visual art, we have always consulted each other, discussed problems and ideas, physically assisted in each other's projects. What we had not done was actually collaborate.
We're part of a small group of artists that meets several times a year. Our group connected up with another group and decided to do a responsive collage exchange. What that meant was one person made a collage then mailed it to a
member of the other group, who then made one to the same size that responded in some way to the first collage. That person in turn mailed theirs to a third person (in the first group) who responded to the second collage, and so on.
Working responsively like that is a great way to give yourself a starting point and maybe discover something fresh in your own work. Collaboration is another whole layer of challenge. I'm not positive, but I think we were the only participants who did collaborate.
Collaboration is good strong medicine for control freaks! Mutual respect is key, as is loosening your grip (from controlling the work and from your own ego). Treating each other and what the other person
Working responsively is a great way to give yourself a starting point and maybe discover something fresh in your own work. Collaboration is another whole layer of challenge and is good, strong medicine for control freaks!
For this collage, Kal and I started by taking turns at individual layers. Then things got interesting. It became a series of discussions with each intervention; longer discussion over smaller aspects as we got closer to completion.
The piece borrows a little positional/proportional structure from the original collage we responded to, as well as some colour and material reference, but in the end it totally surprised us, and that made us very happy.
Have you done collaborative work? Was it an enjoyable process with an interesting result or did the collaboration itself need more work? Please share your stories in the comments.