People in the arts often find themselves wanting and needing to collaborate. These collaborations sometimes work beautifully and sometimes bring out the worst in the collaborators. It isn’t so easy when two or more individuals, each of whom has opinions, a vision, ego needs, and an investment in the project, try to create a single entity, whether that entity is a visual performance piece, a self-curated group show, or a mural.

Here are some tips that can help collaborators work together.

1. Be as clear as possible on goals.

What is the actual goal? Is it getting the group show up? Is it getting the group show up and having it be well publicized? Is it giving everyone exactly equal wall space or are some members entitled to more space? What are the exact goals?

2. Be as clear as possible on schedules.

What is your working schedule? Is this the primary project for each of you or is it primary for one of you and secondary for another? Are there other projects that come first, either for you or your collaborators? If some of the collaborators are very busy, are they intending to carve out real time for this project?

3. Be as clear as possible on deadlines.

When is the whole project to be completed? When are the various parts of the project to be completed? Are these deadlines flexible, fixed, or a little of both? If a little of both, how will you decide when a deadline ought to be abandoned and a new one fixed?

4. Be as clear as possible on duties.

Who is doing what? Will the work go on simultaneously or does one person have to get his or her part done first? What’s the process or procedure for commenting of the other person’s performance? Who gets to say if the project is or isn’t being pulled off?

5. Keep communicating, even when the going gets rough.

Often collaborators fall silent because they’re angry, discouraged, or otherwise upset and don’t want to make a scene or blow the project out of the water. Keep communicating even in those circumstances, carefully but also directly. Say what needs to be said.

You will find yourself collaborating in a variety of settings and situations. Enjoy them—and learn how to make them work!


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