Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creative Collaboration - Can't live with it, Can't live without it!

Playing for Change - Stand By Me

Creative collaboration is something that happens in every artist's life. It is ironic that we are so dependent on the sharing of our work and processes with others when we spend so much time alone in our minds during the creative process. It gives us the illusion of autonomy but actually we are always working in tandem with someone or something.

As I watched the video above I thought about how much more powerful the outcome is when we collaborate with joy and the willingness to share our gifts. No ego. No hierarchy. No leaders. Just every voice, every creative effort being heard as part of the whole. Our current culture of narcissism has spawned an attitude that all art springs from the individual.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, has a wonderful TED talk titled, "Your Elusive Creative Genius" and you will see she has a compelling argument for why this me-centered creative mindset has not always been the case. She argues that in ancient times all creativity was thought to come from the divine, the gods, and channeled through us. Therefore the responsibility to be brilliant lay elsewhere rather than our own egos. Who can argue that you don't feel a connection to something greater than yourself when you are tapped into the creative flow?

Which brings me back to collaboration. I think that technology has created an environment where collaboration is easier and more accessible and perhaps in the future we will begin to redefine the process of creativity with less of an "I" culture and more of a "We" culture. I have noticed among the artists I work with that the older generation seems a bit less inclined to share the process and the credit but my younger artists are all about collaboration and experimentation. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in their culture no idea is sacred once it is made public on the internet. Everything can be copied, modified, changed, remixed, redrawn, and redefined without regard for the original creator. So doesn't it make sense that they would embrace creative collaboration?

Once the process is embraced that leads to some wonderful outcomes because the collective creative consciousness is more powerful than the single voice in the end.

I will leave you with Pharrell Williams "Happy" video project, a huge collaborative of creative people dancing to his song. This one is from Hong Kong. Had only one person been the expression of the song it would not have been nearly as powerful as the collaboration of people around the world for the sake of feeling happy. Imagine if this example of creative collaboration was applied to all aspects of our culture; finance, politics, food distribution, industry, and on and on... what type of society would we have with a grander collaboration of humanity?

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