Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Suck - Collaborate


I attended a Kevin Kubota workshop last fall and the one thing from that workshop that stuck with me above all others was Doug Gordon telling me, as I was dancing with the group, "Sir, you need to get out more." By the way Doug, I am. Thank you.


The other thing that stuck with me was Kevin Kubota telling us, "You can't create in a vacuum unless you want to suck." That quote had the biggest impact on me and has shaped so much of who I have become as a artist over the last year.


The power of collaboration is truly immeasurable, but I am going to try and quantify at least a few aspects of its power. But before I do that I want to talk a little bit about how I have collaborating since that workshop.


The photography club I help run hosted a HUGE Help Portrait event. This included working with 30+ volunteer photographers, post processors, makeup artists, hair stylist, catering and a local hosting facility. Talk about collaboration.


I opened a studio downtown with four other photographers and a makeup artist. We hosted a few events, one huge event and several smaller events involving makeup artists, photographers, models and pets.


I signed up and took a photogrpaher's version of The Artist Way in which we as a group were shown in a gallery, each with two pieces.


I have assisted numerous photographers on selecting and producing their final products for showing.


As a result my own art has developed, grown and matured. I have developed, grown and matured. I see things differently. I approach things differently. I shoot differently. I write differently. I communicate differently. I am a different artist. I am a different person. In just one year I have completely transformed my approach to art and it all started with Kevin's little quote, "You can't create in a vacuum unless you want to suck."


The year hasn't been without its hard knocks. I have pissed off, scared off and even lost some friends as a result of this growth. I lost my studio partnership due to financial hardships.


The power of collaboration resides in the sharing of knowledge, ideas and shared experimentation. Everyone, regardless of skill level, has something to teach us. By opening ourselves up to this concept we are opening the doors to letting everyone's personal wikis flood our own with new ingenious ideas. 


It is amazing watching the likes of Kevin and Doug work together. I always thought to myself, these guys know everything. But in watching them interact and watching them work off each other I was amazed that while each of them have their own distinct styles, each was able, and more importantly willing to use the suggestion of the other to get some stunning results.


Ego is one of the things that can get in the way of knowledge transfer. In my collaborations I found it really easy to check the ego at the door because I happen to be my own worst critic. Most people are nicer in their feedback of my work than I am. But ego can be problematic. If we have a "I can do it myself" or "Don't help, I want this to be mine" attitude then we close the doors to what is possible outside of our own little creative silo. Another way ego can be problematic is when we have the mindset of "I am better than he/she, therefore he/she doesn't have anything to teach me." Simply put... Ego sucks.


I am in the process of finding a small group of like minded people to work with, create with and grow with. This group would meet monthly and devise and execute creative projects together. The group would also provide honest feedback on each other's work. I would prefer to work with other arists who, like me, work in multiple mediums - Visual, Written, Audible and Sensory art. Anyone interested?

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