How can you work with others to support one another in your creative process?

I’m about to move away from friends that I’ve grown to know over 6 years of living in Dubai. I’m lucky that my move isn’t taking me very far but it still causes heartache to grow a more limited connection. One the greatest worries I associate with my move is finding thoses one or two people who help foster and support my creativity. And how might I maintain creative connection with people all over the world?

Obviously, this question is a lot easier today than it was say, during the time of Surrealism. When a group of surrealists would play exquisite corpse, it could take months for each person to receive a part of the drawing via post. But people made the effort then as well. Even today some artists work collaboratively via post, like many participants in the Lomography movement… but why?

Do you have creative collaborators that have your back?

I think that larger question of why is something for an anthropologist or sociologist to consider, maybe a psychologist. I would bet it has something to do with our general need for social connection. Even when we claim as artists to work in isolation, do we? Do we create without any input from peers, friends, loved ones? I can’t speak for you but I don’t. If you do, I would love to hear about it. In fact, I invite you to guest post on Artist Strong because it is a truly unique experience for me!

Not only do I seek feedback from peers, they are a constant support for ideas, in their generation and development. I even found teaching to be a well of creative energy where students’ ideas and enthusiasms fuel or inform my own. Even just sharing my process or development of a project with a friend who supports my enthusiasm can keep me going and help me remain accountable to finishing a product. Obviously, I believe in collaborative opportunities for creation and feedback.

Something that is a key and necessary ingredient in these collaborative and supportive interactions is the ability to have a critical eye, BUT with care and kindness. The vulnerability of showing a work even finished is a problem for me, but showing a piece while it’s in progress? The wrong word or negative energy from someone can destroy everything you have been working towards if you let it. So one must be careful in the selection of the people they collaborate with as well as work on developing a thicker skin. The whole point of sharing your idea is to see if other ideas come from this intersection of minds. Difference isn’t bad unless someone chooses words like “bad, wrong, ugly, etc.” which, of course, could hamper your creative success.

So why am I talking about all of this today? It’s because I very much hope to stay in touch with some friends in Dubai who might be open to this opportunity. Some day I would love to open it to the world of my internet connections and share a sacred working space that is meant to announce personal deadlines to help one another meet goals as well as offer feedback about works in progress and brainstorming. This space would be free from negative judgements and any fear of taking ideas, we would all openly share ideas and help one another reach greater heights in our artistic production, of whatever medium.

Who is part of your creative community?

So, how would I create this group? I would create a private community or group page via some social media. Perhaps create a private community similar to some of the Google Plus one’s I’m already apart of. I see this work actively and well in the photography groups where people actively critique, but I also see hurtfully framed comments at times in them as well. I think a smaller group of people who are making this a commitment (like a book club, but where people take the time to actually read the books they select 😉 ) could share in the responsibility of the sacredness of the space. I do think the word commitment is important. I want the space to be an active space of collaboration, NOT a space of receiving information.

As soon as I’m back from my summer holiday I’m making one for me and a creative friend of mine in Dubai. We will see if it grows and how it works! I’ll be sure to reflect on its effectiveness. Do you have any ideas on creative collaboration? Tell me about it!

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: I encourage you to reflect on the relationships you have in your life that support your creativity. Can you harness them more? What about creating a digital space for sharing artwork and ideas?