When my wife and I launched our new range of backpacks and tote bags last week it wasn’t just another product for us, it wasn’t another art print or postcard set, it’s not even just a bag, it’s pure, successfully-produced happiness. We’ve collaborated a lot over the years; sets of art prints, toys, zines, exhibitions, but this was the happiest collaboration so far and with the freshest outcome. I illustrated the fabrics and Fi designed and hand-makes the bags, so it’s very much more Fi’s project than mine, which means I had to learn a thing or 5, and I’m happy that I did. Here’s the top 5 things I learnt while working on this brilliant creative collaboration…
Let go! Right from the outset be prepared to let go of something, be ready to hand over control and not get your way every time. If you’re a freelancer like me, you might also be used to doing your own thing, being your own boss, but in a collaboration there is no boss, only partners. Decisions come from discussion and results come from agreement.
Talk! When a creative project is coming from the heart you have to be prepared to talk, about everything. Talk about the production process, talk through all your ideas, if you’re not happy with something, talk about it, if you’re really happy with something, talk about it. If everyone involved wants the best end product, then be open, honest and talk, about everything.
Wait! Hand-crafting products takes ages, be patient and ready to wait, pay attention and respect the details. When we were designing our bags Fi went through a series of prototypes before she reached the perfect designs, where functionality, form and freshness were all in check. It took time, but it was worth it.
Be Super! Fi and I believe that everyone has a skill, something they are super at, whether it’s through natural talent or hard-work and a will to learn and succeed, we can all do something. Play to your super powers. I understand illustration, I know what to do, Fi understands fabric, she knows how to work with it. Whatever your skill is, use it, fit together with people who’s skills complement yours, and respect eachother in your area of expertise.
Do! We’re in the midst of an advice-culture, everyone wants to be the renowned expert, we’re surfing on waves of inspirational quotes, TED talks and ‘5 Things I Learnt’ blog posts, now these are all great, but there’s only one real way to learn, and that’s by doing, so stop wasting your time with these blog posts and go and make something.
Check out the results of our collaboration on BTICollection.com!