Defining Collaboration

As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.
— Amy Poehler

In preparing to launch Indicoe, we asked several people how they define artistic collaboration. As with all definitions, each person had a slightly different interpretation. Some people defined collaboration as "the joining together of artistic creativity" and "jointly creating magic." Others defined it as "anything that isn't solo" or "any way one person can help another." However, all the definitions had one theme in common: the coming together of elements, of people, of ideas. And the creation of something new.

When individuals with a vision come together to create something new by pooling their resources and skills, each person's contribution adds a special quality to the end product. It is the sum of these parts that makes a wonderful and new creation. Award-winning producer Jordan Roth described such collaboration best during his 2012 Tony acceptance speech for Best Play: “There are those rare people who look at the world and see things the rest of us don’t see until they show us. These are the writers. There are a special few who can take that and turn it back into a world; these are the directors, the designers. There are fearless beings who can live in that world and show us who we are, those are our actors. They are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much--crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, ‘show me this world. Open, change me.’ These are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say, ‘yes,’ there is theater.”

This is, in essence, the beauty of collaboration. The contributions of numerous individuals to the creation of something unique. That same kind of collaboration can be found in all artistic disciplines: music, writing, dance, fashion, filmmaking, comedy, painting, photography, and more. The arts depend on collaboration, and not just within specific disciplines but between them as well. Arranging projects like a photoshoot involve not only the photographer and models, but also makeup artists, stylists, and lighting personnel. Music videos sometimes require filmmakers, audio engineers, musicians, directors, and stylists. Dancers work not only with other dancers, but also with musicians or sound engineers, costumers, directors, and set designers. Very few projects can exist without at least a little collaboration, if only between the artist and the audience during the final stages of the creative process.


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What is so interesting about artistic collaboration now is that it has never been easier to work with other artists and share one's work with a wider audience. Independent artists no longer have to be signed to a label, publisher, or agent. Posting one's work online or displaying it somewhere in real life can result in countless likes, retweets, and subscriptions. Phones and filters can launch modeling careers, books and articles can be written in a series of tweets, and award-winning films can be produced in garages and living rooms. Technology has effectively democratized the artistic process, providing tools one can successfully use in the comfort of one's home. And with the ability to connect more easily online and in person, people are collaborating even more with artists from different disciplines who bring completely different skill sets to projects.

Here at Indicoe, we have made it our mission to celebrate these collaborations and the projects that result from them. And the best collaborations are characterized by open communication, trust, professionalism, and imagination. They feature artists who enjoy working together to create something new and have a mutual respect for each other and their work. These relationships, like any other, may not be perfect. There is always room for disagreement, for some of the best art is born of conflict. But underneath it all, there is a level of respect and communication that characterizes the working relationships that we love and admire. It takes a lot to make such a collaboration work, but when it does, pure magic results.

We at Indicoe are working to support artistic collaboration by providing tips on keeping the peace, to avoid ripping your work to pieces. We want to provide you with advice on the legal and financial aspects of your collaborations, tips on how to navigate difficult situations, and how to bring the best out of your fellow artists and yourself. So please comment below and share your thoughts on collaboration with us. What inspires you to collaborate with someone? How do you find people to work with? What problems do you typically encounter? How has technology changed the way you collaborate? And how do you define collaboration? Because we're here not just to offer knowledge, but to learn as well. And maybe with this exchange of ideas, we will all end up changed for the better.