How I Collaborate

On Monday we start a new month in the Artist Conspiracy, where our focus will be Collaboration.
I want Conspiracy members to be proactive and seek out relationships that will further their careers. I want that for you, too.
Perhaps sharing these lists about how I collaborate in my business might trigger something for you – a way you can make collaborations work for you.

Artist Collaboration
Artists collaborate on their action plans at my Long Island workshop in 2011.

Testing Collaborations

  1. I invited a small group of artists to help me with book design for I'd Rather Be in the Studio. I did the same while researching the Artist Conspiracy.
  2. I took this one step further when I launched the Artist Conspiracy. I had a test group try out the Conspiracy for two months free of charge. They helped me kick off my dream and many became ambassadors.

Content Creation Collaborations

  1. Artist feedback is critical – through my classes, Artist Conspiracy, blog, and social media sites. Whether or not you realize it, every time you leave a comment here, you become a collaborator. I listen! I may not always agree, but that's not what collaboration is about. It's about understanding one another and working toward a common goal.
    I don't want to create content just to get traffic and make money. I want my writing and products to have meaning. I want, genuinely, for them to help you be fulfilled in your life as an artist.
  2. Guest bloggers share their stories and experience on this site. They enrich the content I provide and fill in with expertise that I don't have.

Product Creation Collaborations

  1. I partner with at least one new person each month to create audio interviews for Artist Conspiracy members.
  2. Cynthia Morris and I developed the Blog Triage and Blog Triage Self-Study classes together. She also shared her tips for generating content in the Stress-Free Blogging program.
  3. I invite all kinds of people who know more than I do to be my guest experts on teleseminars – people like Carolyn Edlund.

Everyday Collaborations

Website, blog, and newsletter design: Pat Velte of WhiteWing Design
Email, class organizing, shipping, document creation, and just keeping me on my toes: virtual assistants Shari Cornish & Kelly Johnson
Bookkeeper: Susan Firmin of Blessed Bookkeeping
Business advice: My dear husband is an awesome sounding board and is the heart of my support system
Design: Angela Knightly has helped me redesign my identity, which you'll be seeing the results of shortly
Masterminding: Cynthia Morris is my mastermind partner and a huge asset in my business
Artist Conspiracy

Your Collaborations

How do you collaborate?
How do you wish to collaborate?
How does collaboration benefit you?
What's your favorite story of artists collaborating with one another?
Read more about the Artist Conspiracy and consider joining us for this focus on Collaboration and future topics.

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22 thoughts on “How I Collaborate”

  1. Victoria Pendragon

    From 1985 – 1990 I worked as an initially reluctant collaborative artist with my then husband. I always told him that I ended up learning more from him about painting than I’d learned in all my years of training and it was true. Some of his comments irritated me to the point of anger; I was ‘trained’ after all, he wasn’t! But what he was trained in were things I’d never learned about: having fun, making mistakes and not being upset over it, not planning everything out to the last detail. In all the years I’d been making art, I created my first truly satisfying piece under his gentle tutelage.
    For the last 5 years I’ve been collaborating with a woman I initially did work for, creating an on-line tarot deck. Creating a tarot deck is a massive undertaking and after 2 years on my own, when I wanted to actually get a site up and going, I knew that I needed help. She turned out to be a prolific photographer (the deck is entirely composed of photographs) besides being a computer adept and we’ve been working together since then.
    Again with the learning. She doesn’t know tarot like I do – I’ve been reading for almost 50 years – and I don’t know the sorts of things that comprise excellent on-line presentation so I hoe we’re both learning something from each other! Time will tell; we’re both hard-headed when it comes to what we ‘know’ and compromise is often a highly cultivated bloom.
    This year I’ve begun forays into some interesting marketing collaborations. I do one series of pieces I call Yogis & Yoginis and have arranged with a few brand new studios for them to display my work as part of their decor, both of us ultimately benefiting as they receive a gallery fee when the work sells and each of us benefits from the arrangement. This one’s an easy collaboration!

  2. Last Summer I collaborated with my niece, a special effects make-up artist, to create photographs of her make-up inspired by some of my bead weaving art. We got some good results, but we think we can do better. She’ll end up with better examples of her art (she specializes in fashion/wedding/fantasy make-up) and I will have unique and beautiful photos of my work on live models.
    Does having been mentored count as a collaboration? It’s a bit more one way, but my mural mantor, Lois Primeau, gave me the best advice and saved me a lot of headaches in the learning process.
    At the same time, however, I would really love to do a collaboration with a silver working artist (I have a concept design in mind – and have done for over 7 years!), an accountability or mastermind-type collaborator for improving my business habits while at the same time helping someone else similarly. I make a lot of use of the Artist Conspiracy but would also like to have a more one to one scheduled contact collaboration as well. As far as marketing collaborations go, though, I need a lot more confidence in myself and some ideas how to make these work before I explore that area.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Patricia: Absolutely the mentoring with Lois counts. That sounds like a winner!
      And I hope you find the metalsmith to work with. I’ll be adding a place for “Looking for Collaborators” in the Conspiracy this month.

  3. Hi,
    Although I’ve done art photography in the past, right now I’m primarily a software developer of art business software, so I suppose I come at this from a slightly different perspective. In my everyday work, I need collaboration from 2 entirely different groups. There are technology professionals that I work with that assist me in getting the best results from the software. That is important right now because we’ve been completely re-architecting the product to make better use of new technologies and give us much better capabilities for the future.
    On the other hand, I rely on comments from my artists to help me to improve the software. That is *so* important that I’m completely changing the way we have communicated with our artists in the hopes of building a community that will be mutually beneficial. A lot of this amounts to modernization of what has been traditionally been done so that it’s easier to keep the communications lines open.
    Have a good day, everyone.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Ron: That’s awesome that you are seeking input from your end-users (artists). Do keep me posted about the progress of Working Artist software.

    2. I was purposely trying not to be too “salesy” in my post, but since you asked :-), the long awaited new release is nearly done. A major re-architecture of the system to not only support all of the existing features, but set us up for a lot of major future improvements as well, to take advantage of new technologies. I’m just beginning to post information on our website about the new release, and will have more information soon.

  4. Theresa Grillo Laird

    Like Victoria, I had a husband who I painted with. We’d work one at a time on the same canvas. Since I was the one with a lifelong stake in being an artist, I often resented his input and we had many arguements about what was good in the work. I was very sure I was right. When I finally began to see what he was trying to show me, it became a pleasure to watch him work and I learned more from him than from anyone else.

  5. Theresa Grillo Laird

    Oh. And how would I like to collaborate? I’d love to get together with a glass blower to put together a sculptural piece that’s been kicking around in my head for a while.

  6. Hi – I think one of the ways I collaborate is just offering to help people and by sharing my work – the blogging community is so good at supporting each other and creating ‘real’ friendship and support – and that can often ‘pay back’ at a later date when you want something shared across the blogging network
    Sharing ‘work in progress’ shots is also really good – I like seeing how others are developing their paintings and I don’t mind sharing mine as I go along (via Facebook)
    Also my husband is great – now he has taken up photography professionally I can steal all his images to paint from! 😉

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Alyson: Isn’t the Internet great for that? Just don’t forget the face-to-face stuff. So important.

    2. That is so absolutely true. I just spent some time a recent art fair talking with artists about how well things are going with the new credit card swipe payments systems that hook up to smart phones, etc. Really very interesting.
      Thing is, tho, I hate to bother people at fairs where they’re trying to sell things. The nice thing about things like Linked_In, Facebook, email, etc, is that people can respond at their leisure. Of course, sometimes you’re more likely to actually get an answer when you talk to people face to face.

  7. Last year I started a project called Open to Interpretation – it’s a juried book competition bringing together photographers and writers. I had no idea how much fun this project would be. Nor how collaborative. I find my days now filled with communicating with photographers, writers, editors, judges, book designers, printers, book stores, journalists, and mentors. I couldn’t possibly publish this book series without all these wonderful and talented people – and when I reflect on the project I find it’s really the collaboration that brings me the most fulfillment!

  8. I reconnected with a couple of artist friends during a recent show. We really enjoyed sharing stories about our artistic dreams and directions. We have been getting together to paint ever since and it’s been a great way to share ideas and encourage one another. We are not collaborating in the sense of working on a mutual project, but we are enthusiastic about each others ideas, efforts, attempts and successes! And knowing that we count on one another keeps us focused and committed. It’s been great to work in this supportive “community”!

  9. Currently I’m mostly on a solo flight. But over the years collaborations have been exceedingly helpful. In 2003 a collaboration formed the Brandon Artist Guild. Working intensely as a small group we raised $188,000 for the guild, producing a fabulous community wide art event we dubbed the Really Really Pig Show. 40 artists enhanced 40 fiberglass pigs which were auctioned off in live auction and on E-Bay.We bought our building and united a divisive community with the arts. It was an astonishing event.
    My main current collaboration is participating in the Artist Conspiracy, although not as much as I want to. It’s incredibly helpful to take the challenges to heart and share the process with other members.

    1. The power of collaboration is twofold. Mixing axioms and metaphors: many hands make light work, of course, but also the bar is higher when the group sets it and eggs each other on.

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Liza: What a fantastic collaboration! I’m sure it feels good to have been a part of such an undertaking. Congratulations.

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