Firestarter: Creative Friendships and Collaboration

My littlest and most frequent collaborator, hard at work.
My littlest and most frequent collaborator, hard at work.

So thanks to kids, preschool and the changing weather, I got to spend most of yesterday and today lying on the couch filled with cold medicine. It always irks me when I am more or less required to sit still and do nothing. I did manage to read one new book cover to cover, which is something I rarely get to do anymore. Besides that, I drifted in and out of sleep thinking about what I would write about when I finally managed to prop myself up at the computer. Since my awesome husband was taking care of everything around the house while I used up every box of tissues in the house, I got to thinking about collaboration.

College was the start of really working with others for me in a successful fashion. Before that, most group projects…well, they didn’t end well. It was the first time I was spending extended periods of time with others who love art and wanted to learn more about it. After coming back to Montana, however, I experienced something of a drought. Returning home was one of the best decisions I made, but I did give up a lot of in-person connections that could have been helpful to me as a creative person. During the past eight years as I have worked to create new connections. The biggest lesson I have learned is that having wonderful, nurturing and supportive creative friendships does not rely solely on being in the same physical space. In fact, people need something more multi-dimensional than that. But in person or not, there are some wonderful benefits to working with other people.

  • Bouncing ideas off each other
  • Trade materials and tools to try out
  • Support…especially good when you are doubting every move you make
  • A constant reminder to always push yourself forward
  • Someone to help pick you up after defeat
  • Exposure to new resources and places to get inspired
  • A fellow artist who sends you random art bits in the mail

The great thing is, so many of those benefits can come out of a simple email exchange. I can’t count the number of times a friend has sent me a link that brought me to an inspiration rabbit hole filled with watercolors, typography, photography and pencil drawings. It’s always wonderful.

Besides seeking out support for yourself, don’t forget to be a help to others. Send encouragement as you see a friend working on a project. Offer a helping hand if someone is struggling (even just a hello).

So for you, for others, for the health of a general creative community, support each other. It’s always worth the effort.


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