Collaboration 101 | Part 1

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Walking away from Design Life the weekend before I came out with confidence to share more personal parts of my business with you all. I have shied away from this as I have never felt I had much to share about running a business or a blog for whatever reason, but after talking with so many inspiring and supportive women over that weekend I felt it was time I just got more real about some of my experiences in this world hoping you all can take something from my own thoughts and experiences. My hope is the knowledge I have learned in even the last 3 years from diving in blindly, head-strong, and fearlessly to this industry will help you grow as well.

I thought I would kick this whole idea off with talking about collaboration. I love it. I crave it. I find it to be essential to being a creative. I have made some of the best friends through collaborating and being open to the challenge it presents. Though the thing is not every collaboration is successful, some fail, some create conflict, and at points leave you feeling under appreciated. I have been there, done that, and though I don’t feel those experiences are necessary to share with you, they have taught me so much along the way of how to do collaboration successfully.

This will be a four part series over the next few weeks that will give you insights as to how I go about collaborating, things I have learned along the way, and honestly why you should be collaborating more. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Let’s begin this week with talking about why you need to be collaborating before we get in to the how. I always like to start things with why.

To begin I will say collaborating is not easy, let’s not beat around that bush. It takes time, effort, personal sacrifice, trust, and a mature creative attitude. The biggest thing is to remember it is not about you when going in to a collaboration, because the best collaborations happen when every brings an open mind and leaves their egos at the door. If you do that you will be rewarded and surprised by how an idea can grow quickly and beautifully with the right people working together. So forget that it is tough cause there are more reasons to do than to not.

1. You will grow creatively:
Allowing yourself to open up creatively with other people will push you in so many ways. I constantly try to work with people who I deeply admire and will challenge me. Many times I have been surprised by how much the situation taught me and pushed me. When I first began working with Michael Newsted on some shoots I saw his love and passion for his work. Watching him work during our shoots a few months back challenged me to look at life so differently. He would see lines and structure in ways I had never taken the time to see. It pushed me to look at my own style more deeply, but I would never have seen that if I had not taken in what he was doing. When I pulled away from my self and absorbed his creativity I saw something new.

2. Your ideas will become better:
It is true. Oscar Wendell Holmes said “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Just this morning I was sitting on Skype with my dear friend Jonathan Grant and we were tossing around ideas about new series and concepts. I gave him my ideas and then he instantly built on it. Those moments are energizing. They put passion behind your idea and clarity to the direction you will take to execute it. You quickly see your idea go from a seed in to a flower within just a few minutes and take forms you may not have thought of on your own.

3. You will develop deeper relationships:
There is something about creating that brings in a unique level of intimacy. Finding and discovering your partners for collaborations is a lot like dating. The more you get out there and meet people and the more you collaborate the quicker you will know the right people to work with. It has taken me a few failures to learn what I need and what I expect of people I collaborate with as well the personalities that work best with me. When I find these people it is an instant click and before you know it we are planning a new project, developing a new series, or creating something we hadn’t planned on before knowing each other. Some of the people I collaborate with I have known less than a few years but they have quickly felt like best friends because of how we align and view a vision together.

4. You will discover something you never knew about yourself:
When I first collaborated I was just a little graphic designer and some how I got sucked in to Art Directing a shoot. No idea how I took that spot in our team but there I was in charge of the visual direction from beginning to end without using photoshop or illustrator to make it happen, what’s a girl to do? Walking away from the challenge of breaking the mold showed me that this was something I loved and wanted to do more of. One of our team members saw something in me I could not, and because I took that opportunity, trusted their vision, and pushed myself in to an uncomfortable place for the team I discovered this new passion.

5. You will never regret it:
I say that with a little with caution as you have to be the type who does not regret and you have to easily see the silver-lining, but even my biggest failures in collaborations and choosing partners have  showed me things I am so thankful for. Never have I walked away feeling it was a waste in any way. There is always something to learn even if it goes sour. Just always make sure as a team you know that what happens in a collaboration stays there and if it goes bad you will still maintain your relationships.

What it all truthfully comes down to is that you have to be prepared for the challenge, the excitement, the time commitment, and the responsibility of listening and sharing ideas with others. Collaboration will open you up to ideas, people, and places you may never have been able to conceive on your own. For instance going to Paris next week is because of a collaboration, I never dreamed of something like that coming from something as small as a little conversation over coffee. I am constantly trying to begin new collaborations on every scale as I receive the most insane amount of excitement from working with other passionate creatives. Mike will tell you very often I over commit myself because I cannot wait for the next opportunity to challenge myself and get to know other’s.

Next week I plan to share the things you need to prepare yourself with before finding your new partners in crime. Stay tuned!!

All type is done by Megan Gilger…Please credit as such.  

Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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