"Collaborative art practices have moved in to the mainstream of cultural production, and collaboration is now largely taken for granted as one of the numerous ways that artists can choose to operate," so says the website collabart.org, which was established "as a resource and platform for artists, theorists and art students setting out to offer a source of information, dissemination and discussion about collaborative art practice." More and more websites and books churn out information and resources to help explain and define collaborative art while more artists taie up the practice, too.
Some projects are massive collaborations that include hundreds if not thousands of people. Other projects are a simple collaboration between two artists. Like art in general, collaborative projects are infinite and limited only to the scope of human imagination. Some works are created by those in the same medium. Others combine artists from different mediums. Perhaps you will have a musician working with an illustrator or a painter with a craftsman
Throughout time, the stereotype of the reclusive artist toiling away in private has come into being. Collaborative projects help artists, who do sometimes fall into a solo rut, to exchange ideas and work regularly with other artists. So what are the benefits?
Two heads better than one
It's easy for an artist to become insulated and have her ideas simply bouncing around her own mind. Collaborating with another artist allows for the free exchange of ideas. It provides a sounding board. It allows for brainstorming sessions. This could lead to a project greater than any one person would have realized.
Maybe it's time, knowledge, skill, or materials. What you lack someone else has. Collaboration is a natural way to expand your artist horizons without investing more of your own time or money into the project. You want to create elaborate videos to synch up with original music but you're not a musician. Do you take the time, energy, and money to become a musician or do you simply collaborate with one?
Furthering a cause
A lot of collaborative art projects come out of the desire to bring attention to, and perhaps raise money for, a certain political or social cause. Bringing in more artists increases the visibility and impact of such causes. If you have a pet cause and want your art to play a role in helping that cause, bringing in additional artists who share your passion for that cause might have a remarkable impact many times more than what you could have achieved on your own.
Most cities and towns talk about the arts community. While all of us involved in the arts are part of that community, just how close we are to each other depends on a lot of factors. Collaboration often achieves a bond among kindred artistic spirits. It allows them to share their process and ideas with others, thus filling common creative isolation with new energy and inspiration.
While many benefits exist in collaborative projects, keep in mind that collaboration may not be for everyone. Some people simply like to work alone. Collaboration certainly requires patience, compromise, and entanglements that a solo artist doesn't have to deal with. So if you've been toiling away solo for a while, it might be worth at least pondering if a collaborative art project might be right for you.
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