Monday, February 11, 2013

How to start a Collaboration

Blog by Genea C-K

Hello friends!

Wow, it has been awhile huh? *dusts off blog* I had actually intended this blog to be about one of my most recent unexpected collabs with Staci, but after getting to the end it turned out being a blog on how to start a collab and some things to think about during the process ;) 

Things to think about before beginning a collaboration

When doing a collaboration you should think about the following things to get started: First off make sure you have a talking relationship with the person with whom you would like to do a collaboration. So what I mean by this is make sure that you have had some conversations with this person. If you just randomly message an artist you admire and ask them to get into a collab with you that may come off as strange and may get your request ignored.

 Secondly you may want to also consider if the person with which you want to start a collab works in the same medium. You don't want to end up stepping on each others toes. For instance in some mediums like metal clay it's very easy to overlap in designs as you are working with a monotone palette(just the naked metal clay color) where most of the designing is done by adding textures. 

Third you want to see if you are a "match" with the person with whom you want to do a collaboration. Do you have a similar style? similar motifs that you like? Would your work compliment each other?

Fourth, are you excited about each others work? Does it inspire you? 

So these aren't necessarily the rules, but just some things to think about before jumping in. So please don't be intimidated as it sounds as though some of those points are negative. You just want to be respectful of each others work and feelings. As you know the "copying" issue in the art world is one of the most debated topics.

Once you get all of this figured out you can talk to your "partner" and decide how you want to do your collaboration. Maybe you want to work in the same color palette, or maybe you want to do a similar theme. All of these things are for you all to decide and again with that there are "no rules".

Once you get on to the "creation" phase you may want to ask your partner some more questions. So for instance, when Karen Totten was inspired by my "Wing Ding" design she asked me if I would mind if she made her version in clay. This is a very respectful thing to ask another artist before moving onto making something similar. I said that was fine and off to work she went.  For this instance Karen was working in clay and metal clay so her medium was already different from mine. I was excited to see what Karen's beads would turn out like. In my mind I had guessed they would be the same as the wing ding shape, but just in clay and metal clay. 

Here is my "Wing Ding" design.
Here are Karen's "Clay Dings". 

I was so excited to see Karen's "reveal" of her "Wing Ding" inspired beads. Just look at how DIFFERENT they are! So unique, and so Karen's style. When Karen had made the first few she also asked if I minded if she called the beads "Clay Dings". I didn't mind, so the "Clay Ding" was born and is not a part of Karen's body of work. This is a fantastic example of a collaboration!

So say for instance you are working in the same medium as your partner.  If you create something and you think it might be too similar to their design you can always ask their opinion. This will just help  put you both at ease so you don't run into a conflict or hurt someones feelings. It's always best to communicate. After all doing a collaboration should be a wonderful and fun experience :) 

Infact I have another wonderful story about working in the same medium. I had the pleasure of meeting an online friend named Karen Kampe. We are both lampworkers and we had met on the Lampwork Etc. forum. She is from Texas, but was visiting her son very close to where I live. We got together for some studio time on the torch and I showed her how I make some of my beads. I was amazed at how different our work looked from each others. I had showed her the same style bead, she used the same glass and did the same things. So it just goes to show that even if you make the exact same things they will still be different  because each of you made them :)

I had really hoped I could find a photo of Karen Kampe's and my beads, but I couldn't :/ 

I just remembered I did get together with another friend I had met online, Kristen Houston. She came by for a studio play day and we did the same thing. Here is a photo of our beads.
Most of my beads are on the left and Kristen's are on the right. I was teaching her how to do stringer designs and things like flowers :) This pic is back from 2009!

So I hope you enjoyed my post on collaboration and I hope that it gives you the opportunity to start one of your own with a fellow artist friend.

xo Genea


  1. What a fun collaboration it was - the wing ding project!

  2. Yes it was!! The Clay Dings are such wonderful beads! xo Genea

  3. I love collaborating with my favorite artists. My collabs are mostly just using my favorite artists creations and mixing them with my love of seed beads. I think they inspire me so much to stretch my creativity.

  4. Me too Kristen. I almost feel like I am in a constant state of collaboration with my artist friends. It's nice to be inspired and create together :) That's wonderful to hear about it stretching your creativity. Thanks for stopping by! xo Genea