Collaborations Equal Growth

November 19, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This is a PSA of sorts. 

It's about collaborations between artists. Collaboration helps artists to grow. 

History is littered with examples of famous collaborations including but not limited to the development of TVs, computers, airplanes, light bulbs, vehicles and telephones. Imagine our world without these inventions. Many inventions that came about from singular sources were on many occasions, by accident.  This includes the likes of Alexander Fleming and the discovery of Penicillin, Charles Goodyear who discovered vulcanized rubber. That is, rubber heated and though such is now commonly derived from oil resources, it was once wholly harvested from trees. Finally there was Louis Daguerre, who discovered film when he failed to produce an image on an iodized silver plate whereby he put the plate away in a cabinet with spilled mercury, the fumes causing a reaction that revealed the image on the plate. 

Obviously, with the case of Daguerre (and the others), film would continue to make advancements, and while it lasted for over 100 years, it has nearly been completely replaced today with digital pieces of information stored on computer chips (the result of more collaboration and innovation).  As a side note, if you delve into the case of Louis Daguerre more deeply than this writing you will find others with developments toward "photographic processing" occurring in other parts of the world around the same time. I've always been convinced that when I've thought of something, so too has someone else in some other part of the world. I've seen this happen so many times and think, "hey I thought of that 6 months ago."  I believe that happens more times than is pieced together by more people. I digress though. 

Competition and necessity breeds innovation. Just as collaboration does. 

I recently watched a fascinating show, American Experience Silicon Valley on PBS. I recommend it, not only for understanding the evolution of computers but as a lesson in how competition excels technology into advancing far faster than without the "game". 

Another motion picture that recently reinforced the concept of necessity as a driving force in innovation was the movie, The Imitation Game. This was a period piece based on the true story of Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a good example of collaboration and necessity, driving innovation. 

Finally, even in the fictitious world of television you saw collaboration being demonstrated to solve cases in the hit-drama House M.D. If you've seen that then you know that 99% of the cases were solved by Gregory House but not without his team, or someone being there to bounce ideas off of until he "realized" what the medical mystery was. This was partly echoed in the movie, Imitation Game where Turing was the obvious genius flanked by, at least in the movie, lesser geniuses. 

And while the whole world has made advancements technologically, art too has made advances. Many great pieces of art across all mediums, came from collaboration (you could get lost in a google search on this point, I did). That's not to say an artist is only an artist if they collaborate with other artists. That's not true. I think an artist has a potential to grow more when they surround themselves with other artists and collaborate on ideas. It's amazing how fast you can work something out when you have other like-minded artists around you. Musicians do it all the time. The creativity feeds each other. 

So while money is the stuff that feeds the mouth and keeps the heat on, collaboration can be for some the stepping stone to better art. It's amazing how stale I become when I only work for money. It's also amazing to observe what collaboration does for my own art. So I suggest trying it. The trick is not to view other artists as people to make money off of, but that you can work with to produce an art that is exchangeable with other people so that you can collectively make money. Start thinking like that and something might change in how you do things and perhaps your bottom line as well.  

In closing, here are some words from Francis Ford Coppola, 

"You must never be the kind of director, I think maybe I was when I was 18, “No, no, no, I know best.” That’s not good. You can make the decision that you feel is best, but listen to everyone, because cinema is collaboration. I always like to say that collaboration is the sex of art because you take from everyone you’re working with."


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