Collaborating: The Do’s & Don’t’s of Partnering Up

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I don’t like to make myself sound too mysterious by saying I’m a lone wolf, but, I am. When it’s studio time, I like to listen to my music, create my artwork, and if I’m feeling social, play with my cats. So, when I was first approached to collaborate, I was thinking of a million ways that might conflict with my antisocial art agenda.

What actually happened was a beautiful piece of artwork that spanned two different techniques: sketching and pouring, and a new friendship too.

What is Collaboration?

When I say collaboration, I’m talking about two or more artists coming together to create different parts of a project that ultimately join into one cohesive piece. This process can take quite some time as everyone perfects their cog in the art machine, and the result can be a breathtaking conglomerate piece of art that works as a whole, but ideally, allows each artist to shine individually too.

Long Distance Collaboration

My first misconception about collaborating with another artist is that it’s imperative to be able to work together in person; it’s not. With my first collaboration, the artist was located states away, so she drew her portion of the piece and sent me color swatches via Instagram so that I could start imagining the colors I’d like to use; but I didn’t see the piece until it came in the mail. By not seeing the piece until it was time for me to create my part, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about how the poured background should look; I was able to just feel the piece and create unburdened by my own expectations.

Now, this is where I’ll mention that the cost of shipping can be a real buzzkill when it comes to long distance collaboration. I would strongly recommend finding an artist that’s at least located in the same country if you decide to work together-but-apart: international shipping when you may need to ship the same piece once or twice can be prohibitive.

In Person Collaboration

If you’re fortunate enough to live near an artist you can collaborate with, it’s a good idea to meet a few times before you actually start the piece. We create pieces oftentimes out of our emotions, and if you don’t get a good vibe from your chosen collaborator, it’s better to find out first before you commit to a piece.

It’s Done… Now What?

Before you even start on your collaboration, it’s a good idea to discuss what’s going to happen to your piece once it’s been completed. Will you sell it and split the profits? Who will pay for shipping? Who will be responsible for the sale? This is where choosing a trustworthy artist is key. I have heard more than one horror story from fluid artists that have collaborated and never seen the finished piece or the money that came from its sale. Be sure that you trust your partner before you begin the piece.

Alternatively, if you’re doing a themed piece, consider donating the money to a related cause!

Final Thoughts

Collaborating with other artists is rewarding and forces us to think ever more creatively. Lending your fluid art as a background or embellishment to another artist’s artwork has the potential to create a dynamic, vibrant piece—just make sure that the partnership is beneficial for everyone involved.

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