It wasn’t so long ago. The business of art used to be a very solitary endeavor. One was required to work tirelessly in the studio at their chosen medium until someone, somewhere recognized that their contribution to art society was meaningful. It was often very difficult to become a member of a guild or cooperative. I remember lots of jumping through hoops and hobnobbing and that sort of thing, only to be told I just don’t measure up. Competition was fierce. Who you knew was definitely more important than what you did, or so it seemed. And don’t even get me started on jury fees!
Well, all that has changed – and thank goodness! Today is the age of Etsy and Instagram to mention just two of the many excellent platforms artists can use to ‘show’ their work. In a virtual world the amateur can easily find a community of like-minded artists to ‘hang’ out with, a positive environment in which to cheer each other on and grow. Who knew? I can’t imagine the creators of Instagram foresaw the impact their sweet little phone app would have on artists of all genres, how it would become a vehicle for world wide creative collaboration. Bravo!
I must also applaud the creators of magazines such as Bella Grace, Artful Blogging, and Uppercase. Each one actively facilitates discovery and interaction with fellow artists. Many collaborative relationships have been formed as a result of these publications. In issue 28 of Uppercase, a Canadian magazine, the editor, designer, and publisher, Janine Vangool, puts together pairs of artists in her article ‘Reader Connections.’ What a fabulous idea Janine! Also in Uppercase, I quote an article by Andrea Jenkins, ‘Collaboration’…
“To collaborate with another artist is to engage in the kind of creative dialogue we cannot have with ourselves – a conversation that can profoundly, irrevocably push us and our work into new spaces.”
So yes, I would love to jump on a plane and head to Canada to visit Kim Klassen or maybe take a class with Christina Coli in the UK. And maybe someday I will. And virtual interaction is cool. But I need actual real interaction with human beings of like mind on a regular basis. Don’t you?!
So, I called for a meeting of ‘Creatives Anonymous.’ (I call it that because a small group of us get together occasionally to talk about our ’emotional stuff’ and how we each use creativity to facilitate healing.) A two hour discussion ensued concerning the fact that I still spend way too much time in my kitchen, alone, creating stuff yes, but alone, and there is an immediate need to remedy that. We came up with a plan. Each month one person would choose an activity and a place and we would do that thing. The person of the month would be the director and get to decide the parameters of the day. Would it be a photo shoot, a tea party, a dance session, a watercolor exploration? The person for the month would decide. We could also invite others to join us.
Our first creative collaboration day out began with an inspiration from hipsterapartments.tumbler.com. It was Devi’s idea to have a greenhouse photo shoot, Jill’s idea to invite ourselves to play in our friend Hilary’s greenhouse, and Hilary’s idea to collect some pots and the bunny and then take a walk by the stream in the woods behind her house. Well as March in Maine would have it, we were dumped on by a freak spring snow and couldn’t get out to the stream. But we had such fun messing around in the greenhouse! Each person would come along and ‘design’ a little set up with the random materials available on the potting bench. Adding and taking away. And then there was tea and strange colored gummy bears and potato chips and conversation about writing. Hilary showed us her watercolor pencil drawings of vegetables, sure to be a beautiful set of cards soon. She recently started an extended season gardening blog entitled ‘Everlongardener.’
Perhaps this monthly creative collaboration is a start of something very cool. Well I am sure it is!! I will keep you posted.
What opportunities for creative collaboration have you enjoyed in your community? Do tell!