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The Art of Collaboration

Being a creative person has its fair share of challenges. You have to constantly hound yourself to make things, to improve, and to produce content in a timely schedule.  Whether it’s writing, drawing, filmmaking, or creating music, being creative will always have its ups and downs.

As if the process of making something out of nothing wasn’t already difficult, carrying out this act with another person can make it ten times more difficult. In order to effectively collaborate with someone, seek a collaborator who either shares or believes in your vision for the work, is genuinely inspired to get the work done, and whose goals are in alignment with your own.

A good collaborative partnership is like a good marriage, one in which each partner balances out each other’s weaknesses by bringing certain strengths to the table. Good collaborators are stronger together than they are apart and more energized and capable of seeing their goals to completion. Finding a great collaborative partner can be just as hard as finding a mate. You could find someone who has some of the qualities you need but not others. Or you might find someone who has everything you want on paper but personality-wise, they’re just not a good match.

But find someone you collaborate well with and you can literally change both of your lives forever.

In the film world, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have been working together for decades. Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Rush, Arrested Development, Frost Nixon and Angels and Demons, the partnered on all of them. They’re a perfect example of a producer and a director partnership in which both partners have well-defined roles and know exactly what they need to do in order to realize their goal of making largely commercially-successful films.

On the music side of things, sometimes it takes a really strong producer to come in and guide artists in a new direction. Rick Rubin, the Def Jam legend, completely revitalized Johnny Cash’s career when Rubin decided to remake Cash’s persona as old school, broken, and completely dark. It worked and for all intents and purposes. That’s right, Rick Rubin saved Johnny Cash’s legacy.

Creating something, anything, will always have its trials. It can get easier though, once you stop struggling with the basics. Nevertheless, some struggle is inevitable. It’s part of the journey towards creating art that’s fulfilling.

Will there be snags, scratches, and bruises along the way? Sure. What separates successful creatives from unsuccessful ones is the willingness to keep going and keep on getting better. A collaborative partner who gels well with you, and vice-versa, could be other half of the equation but ultimately, joining forces or going it solo is something we need to solve for ourselves.