7 Top Tips for a Successful Creative Collaboration

Whether you’re a photographer, graphic designer, content creator, or artist, doing a collaboration is a great way to inspire your work and reach new heights.

You might be apprehensive about forming a partnership or collaboration; there’s a lot that goes into it and it can pull you out of your comfort zone, but the benefits are worth it. So, keep reading for our top for a successful creative collaboration.

1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

One of the biggest reasons to collaborate with someone is to explore new avenues, techniques, and ideas. This may sound daunting if you’re used to your own workflow, but isn’t that why you’re collaborating, anyway?

Try something different. Remember that failure is part of learning, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes while exploring and working with someone new.

Explore different mediums. If you’re a photographer, try painting for a day. If you usually work digitally, swap your Apple Pencil for a set of charcoals. If you work in 2D, try 3D. This can be fun if the person you collaborate with works in a different medium; just swap your tasks.

Aside from the medium, changing location or daily habits can inspire your work. See where and how your new partner works and copy them for a week.

2. Compare Your Creative Visions

When discussing a new creative collaboration, you need to settle on a creative vision. Are you going to combine the knowledge you share about the same thing, or are you going to combine your different skills and ideas and meet somewhere in the middle?

There is no right answer for which direction you should take in a collaboration. Working with someone from the same field and background will strengthen your creative projects, it will add to the authority you already have in that field.

However, collaborating with creatives from other areas of expertise can inspire your work immensely. Combining your skills and abilities with theirs is a great way to create something unique.

Decide as partners what you want to get out of the collaboration. For example, you could work on a TFP shoot collab and even turn it into a business venture.

3. Keep Your Apps Up to Date

There are countless apps for specific creative uses, like VSCO, Procreate, Figma, and Canva. These tools are powerful and essential for a creative partnership, but they’re no good if you can’t utilize them to their fullest extent. Keeping your apps updated means you always have the newest tech and features at your disposal.

VSCO offers VSCO Spaces, a great way to meet and collaborate with other photographers or videographers. You can learn from one another as well as discuss your work in an open space. This is a great way to network with others in your creative field.

Figma is one of the most popular UX/UI design tools. You can use Figma’s FigJam for collaborating with a design team. This works great if you’re introducing UX writers to your team or working with photographers that understand your branding and want to partake directly.

Even Instagram has its own Collab feature. This mostly appeals to photographers, but it’s also great for sharing and seeing videos, graphic design, UX/UI design, or networking with others for business purposes.

YouTube is another app that’s helpful for networking, sharing ideas, and reaching a larger audience. You could create a vlog featuring your collab partner, or use it as a platform to share videos from your collaborative efforts.

Whatever app, tool, or platform you use, make sure you always have the latest version so you can reap the benefits of its newest and most useful features.

4. Look Further Afield

Due to modern technology, you are no longer restricted to only working with those geographically close to you. You can easily collaborate with creatives in other cities or even countries.

Who’s to say that you need to physically be in a room with your collab partner to brainstorm or collate ideas? Instead, have a video chat meeting, or share a Google Doc; you can easily add feedback via comments.

Working with an international team connects your work with a larger audience. Not only through their connections in another location, but also through differences in cultures and how that might influence their creative work. In the same vein, your cultural understanding of your home city or country will reach their audience when you collaborate.

5. Go to Creative Events

Creative events are a great way to network with people in your field or adjacent fields. Find local monthly events, large global events, online events, or one-off events. Some are even free.

Creative Mornings is a monthly global design talk. It’s held in many major cities around the world on one Friday every month. While its focus is on design, it’s an inspiring affair for any creative.

Adobe hosts multiple events a year in various cities around the world, too. Attending these events allows you to learn more about Adobe tools and how to network with creatives from different backgrounds and abilities.

Some creative events are held online, so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. All creative events offer an opportunity to mingle with people in various creative fields. If you’re thinking of collaborating, an event is a perfect place to plant the seed.

6. Start Small

The idea of starting a collaboration with someone might sound daunting. It doesn’t have to be. No one’s expecting immediate success from your first project. So, start small.

Simply having conversations with other creatives can be a way of collaborating; sharing ideas or offering advice to one another.

Start a collaborative partnership with someone you already know, or perhaps someone you may have worked with before. Work on one low-risk project together. If your small project feels like you’d make a good team, then you can begin scaling up your ideas or starting a bigger project with higher risks. But remember, there’s no harm in taking your time.

Plus, starting small and slow allows you to continue with your solo projects alongside this new partnership.

7. Embrace Feedback

Teamwork can sometimes be frustrating. Some people happily hand out criticism, and, unfortunately, some people aren’t very good at receiving criticism.

In a working team or collaboration, you need to embrace feedback. That doesn’t mean you should be harsh with your opinions, especially if you want to stay in good spirits with your project partner.

You can have a chat, post comments, or use Post-it Notes to leave feedback on ideas. But don’t let all feedback be negative; this can put you in a slump or backfire when your partner retaliates. Being a successful creative partnership means taking the good with the bad.

Give feedback using a compliment sandwich model, where you offer criticism surrounded by two compliments. Using genuine compliments works well to gain trust and encourage open conversation.

Make Your Creative Collaboration a Success

With these helpful tips, you’ll no longer question the unknown about creative collaborations. Start small with a trusted friend or former co-worker, but don’t limit yourself for no reason. The world is full of creatives and technology allows you to be in a team with someone who lives thousands of miles away.

Whether you want to work with someone in the same industry as you or spread your wings to embrace creative differences, there’s no better time to start than now.

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