Some forms of creativity can be a very solitary adventure. Often this can find the artist alone in his or her thoughts of how to express an idea, then executing it, contemplating the results and even then deciding what to do with it. It works for some, but not all and new worlds can open with a creative partner.
Some forms of creative expression lend themselves better than others to collaboration and this could be as simple as two friends helping each other paint a room. Certainly drama often relies on a mass of creative collaboration. The writer may need a director to express the vision of their story, with the actors becoming the voice.
Frankly, that process is more like painting than one would think, but usually the painter works alone. The fine artist becomes inspired and an idea is born. From there the artist puts on their director hat and thinks through the vision they wish to present to their audience. Then they can choose their actors or in the painter’s case, materials, be it oil, watercolors, pastel, even which brushes to use. But the painter also needs a stage and unlike the collaborative efforts found in drama, the painter has to choose the size of the stage “think canvas”, become the set designer, lighting director and often the ticket taker too!
Of course one might be thinking an upside to all of this is complete creative control and that certainly can have its advantages. I’ll just say, I don’t necessarily think so. Actual “complete” creative control, while a place of amazing power, also comes with a weakness. The first is the visual disadvantage of becoming to close to your work to see it. Next is an emotional connection that may have you loose sight of your efforts, value or market. Last, is your own perspective of creative rut. That’s the loss of ability to know your own growth as an artist. Are you exploring an idea or doing it to death? Are you exploring an idea to the greater good of your abilities or resting on your laurels?
I have to offer what I think is a cute example. Referencing the entire catalog of Vermeer, who gave us notable masterpieces such as, The Girl With A Pearl Earring. In a span of twenty two years(1653-1675), Vermeer painted just 37 paintings and all except two were done inside and nearly half representing basically the same room - window on the left, light then from left to right, titles beginning with The Girl or The Woman, or The Lady ..., Etc. The only two done outside, The Little Street and View of Delft, were both wonderful paintings, but both done in the first half of his span of years. If I was his friend or creative partner, at some point I might have said, “Dude take a walk, you need to get out of this room!”
A creative partner need not help you paint or form your ideas, they very simply need to be a person of trust and honesty. In a sense, it’s a bit like a creative marriage, whereby like with any marriage, you have two individuals that become a third person through their bond. The greatest advantage of this of course, is not simply the unity, it is the ability to have three separate views on life and life’s goals. Your creative partner may be your significant other, which my wife Linda happens to be. But they certainly do not have to be your only partner. The most important thing is that their opinion is not the road, it’s the guard rail in some cases and in other cases a mirror to help you with the reflection of you.
A lesson for the creative partner. If you are not the creative, be the inspiration. Note, at this point we are not talking about typical creative collaborators. We are talking about individuals in a position of trust, not ones who try to express their creative deficiencies through the artistic control of others. Being a creative partner in this example, respects the creative talent of the artist and simply offers a place of trust by often just asking, what if? A creative partner can be a healthy advance to many artists trying to find their creative direction. If you have a creative partner, you know what I mean and if not, you might give it a try.
To read more about Tom Neel please visit his website ThomasNeel.com