During the pandemic, the arts have experienced an unprecedented push to produce work that can be shared online. Considering that the arts are what we turn to when in need of comfort, this makes sense, however, the stress of converting your artistry into a digital medium can be overwhelming. This is where collaboration can help. Using your connections with other artists will ease some of your workload and strengthen your professional relationships. If you are unsure of how to work collaboratively online, here are some tips to implement for your next upcoming project.
- Begin On the Same Page
When working with another artist for the first time, it is especially important that you communicate your project’s intentions from the beginning. It is alright if you do not have a fully-formed idea of what your artwork will be as long as you develop a plan together that establishes your starting point. You may consider choosing a partner to work with that has similar aesthetic or artistic values as you to ease this process, but if not, don’t let your differences in interests deter you from your project. Take the time to talk through and decide what the subject of your project is, the mediums you will use, and where you would like this artwork to be displayed or presented so that way you are working together in the same direction.
- Know How you will Communicate
Intentional communication is key to a successful online collaboration. While there are many ways to communicate online, it is best to choose one or two methods to consolidate your communications into one place. Video meetings, phone calls, and working simultaneously on shared Google Docs can replicate the immediacy of working in the same place; however, delayed communication through emails, texting, and messages can be just as efficient. When choosing how you will communicate, know your weaknesses and your strengths. If you are someone who doesn’t check your inbox often, then maybe texting would be a better way to reach you. If going onto Instagram in order to DM someone is distracting you from your work, then move the conversation elsewhere. Find what works for you and be diligent in your correspondence.
- Clearly Define your Roles
Creating online art can be a complex process with many steps along the way. You will want to be purposeful in how you delegate the workload of your project between you and your partner. This may not be an even split, which is fine as long as you clearly communicate this and are comfortable with your level of commitment. If you find obstacles along the way, don’t be afraid to reevaluate your workload with your project partner. Ultimately, both you and your partner want your project to succeed so it is important that you develop a supportive relationship rather than a “me versus them” mindset. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and simultaneously be willing to help your partner out in areas that they are struggling with.
- Set Realistic Deadlines and Goals
If there is one thing that the pandemic has shifted our perspective towards its time. Working in isolation can make time management more difficult for some and easier for others. Whether you find yourself more or less capable of meeting deadlines during quarantine, it is worthwhile to create time-related goals for your project. As an artist still in school, your project may not be at the top of your priorities so set expectations that reflect that accurately. It is likely that you and your partner may experience delays as you learn new online skills—be forgiving and allow yourself some wiggle room within your schedule to accommodate any setbacks. Establishing a time frame will help motivate you to keep your creative spark aflame, but if you find yourself overly stressed it's okay to reevaluate your expectations as long as your partner is aware.
- Find Ways to Bond
In one way or another, we have all been emotionally impacted by the pandemic. Working online eliminates some of those casual bonding moments that happen in collaboration with other artists, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to have fun together. Sending your partner something small to make them smile—be it a funny video, cookies, or gift card—shows them that you care about them beyond the breadth of your project. As you work together, seeking to support each other’s wellness in additional ways can keep your collaboration easeful. Ask your partner how they are doing and be prepared to actively listen and contribute to the conversation. Sharing parts of your life with your partner outside of your project can create a genuine friendship that will show within the art that you create together.
As you go forth with your artistic endeavors, I wish you luck! May you find your own personal success in your future collaborations, both online and safely in-person.