The Fresh Exchange Blog

Collaboration 101 | Part 1

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Walking away from Design Life the weekend before I came out with confidence to share more personal parts of my business with you all. I have shied away from this as I have never felt I had much to share about running a business or a blog for whatever reason, but after talking with so many inspiring and supportive women over that weekend I felt it was time I just got more real about some of my experiences in this world hoping you all can take something from my own thoughts and experiences. My hope is the knowledge I have learned in even the last 3 years from diving in blindly, head-strong, and fearlessly to this industry will help you grow as well.

I thought I would kick this whole idea off with talking about collaboration. I love it. I crave it. I find it to be essential to being a creative. I have made some of the best friends through collaborating and being open to the challenge it presents. Though the thing is not every collaboration is successful, some fail, some create conflict, and at points leave you feeling under appreciated. I have been there, done that, and though I don’t feel those experiences are necessary to share with you, they have taught me so much along the way of how to do collaboration successfully.

This will be a four part series over the next few weeks that will give you insights as to how I go about collaborating, things I have learned along the way, and honestly why you should be collaborating more. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Let’s begin this week with talking about why you need to be collaborating before we get in to the how. I always like to start things with why.

To begin I will say collaborating is not easy, let’s not beat around that bush. It takes time, effort, personal sacrifice, trust, and a mature creative attitude. The biggest thing is to remember it is not about you when going in to a collaboration, because the best collaborations happen when every brings an open mind and leaves their egos at the door. If you do that you will be rewarded and surprised by how an idea can grow quickly and beautifully with the right people working together. So forget that it is tough cause there are more reasons to do than to not.

1. You will grow creatively:
Allowing yourself to open up creatively with other people will push you in so many ways. I constantly try to work with people who I deeply admire and will challenge me. Many times I have been surprised by how much the situation taught me and pushed me. When I first began working with Michael Newsted on some shoots I saw his love and passion for his work. Watching him work during our shoots a few months back challenged me to look at life so differently. He would see lines and structure in ways I had never taken the time to see. It pushed me to look at my own style more deeply, but I would never have seen that if I had not taken in what he was doing. When I pulled away from my self and absorbed his creativity I saw something new.

2. Your ideas will become better:
It is true. Oscar Wendell Holmes said “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Just this morning I was sitting on Skype with my dear friend Jonathan Grant and we were tossing around ideas about new series and concepts. I gave him my ideas and then he instantly built on it. Those moments are energizing. They put passion behind your idea and clarity to the direction you will take to execute it. You quickly see your idea go from a seed in to a flower within just a few minutes and take forms you may not have thought of on your own.

3. You will develop deeper relationships:
There is something about creating that brings in a unique level of intimacy. Finding and discovering your partners for collaborations is a lot like dating. The more you get out there and meet people and the more you collaborate the quicker you will know the right people to work with. It has taken me a few failures to learn what I need and what I expect of people I collaborate with as well the personalities that work best with me. When I find these people it is an instant click and before you know it we are planning a new project, developing a new series, or creating something we hadn’t planned on before knowing each other. Some of the people I collaborate with I have known less than a few years but they have quickly felt like best friends because of how we align and view a vision together.

4. You will discover something you never knew about yourself:
When I first collaborated I was just a little graphic designer and some how I got sucked in to Art Directing a shoot. No idea how I took that spot in our team but there I was in charge of the visual direction from beginning to end without using photoshop or illustrator to make it happen, what’s a girl to do? Walking away from the challenge of breaking the mold showed me that this was something I loved and wanted to do more of. One of our team members saw something in me I could not, and because I took that opportunity, trusted their vision, and pushed myself in to an uncomfortable place for the team I discovered this new passion.

5. You will never regret it:
I say that with a little with caution as you have to be the type who does not regret and you have to easily see the silver-lining, but even my biggest failures in collaborations and choosing partners have  showed me things I am so thankful for. Never have I walked away feeling it was a waste in any way. There is always something to learn even if it goes sour. Just always make sure as a team you know that what happens in a collaboration stays there and if it goes bad you will still maintain your relationships.

What it all truthfully comes down to is that you have to be prepared for the challenge, the excitement, the time commitment, and the responsibility of listening and sharing ideas with others. Collaboration will open you up to ideas, people, and places you may never have been able to conceive on your own. For instance going to Paris next week is because of a collaboration, I never dreamed of something like that coming from something as small as a little conversation over coffee. I am constantly trying to begin new collaborations on every scale as I receive the most insane amount of excitement from working with other passionate creatives. Mike will tell you very often I over commit myself because I cannot wait for the next opportunity to challenge myself and get to know other’s.

Next week I plan to share the things you need to prepare yourself with before finding your new partners in crime. Stay tuned!!

All type is done by Megan Gilger…Please credit as such.  

14 Comments

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  1. This is so inspiring! Need to not be scared and know collaboration is about everyone’s growth.

  2. Thank you for this! I have been SO looking forward to collaborating, but somehow have found fear in the process… but this post has taught me that their is more to gain when you let yourself go and explore the possibilities.

  3. Thank you for this! I have been SO looking forward to collaborating, but somehow have found fear in the process… but this post has taught me that there is more to gain when you let yourself go and explore the possibilities.

  4. Don’t be scared. It will surprise you and make you even better at what you do. Other’s will show you parts of yourself you did not know existed. Take the leap!

  5. Ana

    Gorgeous portfolio by the way! You’re a very talented graphic designer :)

  6. aww shucks thank you.

  7. Oooh, I’m so excited for this series! I know we talked about this a bit in person but you’re ability to collaborate inspired me – and awakened me to the fact that I’ve been going it alone (aside from my everyday collaboration and business partnership with my sister) for a long time. And while that has helped me develop a killer work ethic I think it’s maybe limiting my growth and reach. I would love to see how Braid can collaborate with other brands and creatives to better help our dream customer. But that said – I’ve got some fears and anxieties around collaborating. So I’m excited to see all you have to share on the topic!

  8. […] creative peeps. if you plan on or are collaborating with other creatives, read this. it’s […]

  9. Ana

    Everything’s pointing me in the direction of collaboration… and I’ll gladly follow that path :D .

  10. I love this! You are a very talented writer, Megan, along with being a talented designer :) I couldn’t agree more with all your points about collaboration. I’ve learned SO much about collaboration in the past few years through our blog and met so many wonderful, exciting and creative people. Plus, I get the immense pleasure of collaborating with my husband on a daily basis, which I LOVE and is a driving part of our relationship. Thanks for this! :)

  11. Aww Sonja you are welcome! I have more tips that I have been working on so I am excited to share more.

  12. […] and battling your own ego.Creativity.The art of instant colour palette generation.Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.Looking outside the square, literally. Geometry Daily provides a […]

  13. […] creative peeps. if you plan on or are collaborating with other creatives, read this. it’s […]

  14. Creative collaborations are my new best friend. Having recently leapt from the corporate world to follow my creative dreams, I am finding collaborations inspiring, a breath of fresh air. I think they, and what they bring, are what actually makes my journey so much more enjoyable.

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