Creative Collaboration: Don’t DIY Alone

For those that don’t know, D.I.Y. = Do It (all by) Yourself. What fun is that? :)

A big thanks to all who came out to my workshop today – Creative Collaboration: Don’t DIY Alone – at Noise Pop’s Culture Club! As promised, here’s a list of all the inspiring collaborations, both local and around the world, some tips on how to start your own creative collaboration, as well as some of the useful tools that were mentioned.

WilloToons: A Creative Collaboration

I consider almost everything I do a collaboration these days, including my custom illustration work, but my love for the process really took hold when I launched my product line, WilloToons, in 2007. While at times it certainly felt like it was just me, it never has been, and I couldn’t have done it without the amazing skills and support of so many. So from the very first day I launched I had a whole page dedicated to giving credit to those who helped me get there.

Now, as I let go of my apparel line, and move into the next exciting phase of my business, I am fortunate to have several talented co-creators in the mix. As I hinted… it’s all in the works now and I can’t wait to show you. Sign up on my mailing list and/or join the WilloToons Facebook page to be notified when it launches!

Some of the other collaborations/collectives I’ve had the pleasure co-creating:

  • Church of Craft – A local open-to-the-public craft day that happens monthly in cities around the world! Sign up on the mailing list to be notified of the next one near you & let’s get our craft on together! I’m also looking for a new SF location that can host us (~10-15 people, one Sunday/mo from 12-5pm) – please comment here or contact me directly if you have an idea. You can also like the Facebook page.
  • Ladies Independent Design League (LIDL) – We’re a collective of artists, crafters, illustrators, writers & photographers who meet weekly in San Francisco. We share tips, support and most importantly make space for recognizing our accomplishments while keeping us accountable on our goals. I’ll be developing our website a little more in the coming months.
  • Nice to Meat You – A simple Tumblr created in celebration; a collaboration with a few former-vegetarian friends of mine. Funnily enough, I’m mostly veggie these days, but still, there’s some great imagery out there. Including my Bacon Lover greeting card, co-created with my friend Ali, who thought of the punny copy-line!
  • Barack ‘n Roll – In 2008, me and a few girlfriends came together & decided to put on a rock show to raise money to send volunteers out to swing states. Within a short 2 months we put on a rockin’ show at the Independent and raised $10,000. YES WE DID.
  • Notable mentions:
    • Bay Area Alt Summiters – I recently created a Facebook group to reunite those of us in the Bay Area who attended the Altitude Design Summit in January and want to stay in touch.
    • Comfort Food Club (CFC) – a group of women that regularly came together to cook whole, healthy food while catching-up and supporting each other in our lives. Many amazing connections came of those dinners!
    • Bamboozled – where I mentor a group of teen writers & artists in the Sunset, who publish their writing online.
    • Get Crafty – another site of mine, spawned through the core-conversations I co-led with my friend Rebecca at SXSW in 2009/10.

Local (SF/Bay Area) Collaboratives to Get Involved With

  • Church of Craft – see details above & sign up to craft it up with us in SF or Oakland!
  • Lightbox SF – local support system for artists with happy hours, workshops & more.
    • 200 Yards – Micro-neighborhood Photography Exhibit.
  • Craft Bar at MOCFA – Every first Thursday, the Museum of Craft and Folk Art hosts Craft Bar with Etsy Labs.
  • Check for fun events near you.
  • You and your friends. Start something! :)

Inspiring Creative Collaborations Happening All Over the World

Start Your Own Creative Collaboration!

Collaborations come in all shapes and sizes. They can be with one other person, 10 other people, or with strangers all over the city or world. In essence, collaboration is the process of creating something bigger and more amazing than what you could have ever created on your own.

Checking out the wiki entry on Collaboration, I loved seeing that the roots of this word go back to Trade, when communities had to collaborate on growing their crops and sharing food to live. There’s a beautiful message in this; that is to recognize a creative collaboration is one that feeds all of the parties involved. There’s a magic that happens when two or more people come together to create something new.

What do you like to do?

Is there an idea you’ve had lingering for awhile, but you’re not sure how to get it off the ground? Who could you brainstorm with for how to get started? What would it look like fully hatched? What might be the smallest, tiniest first step?

One of the first things to ask yourself is what do you like to do, or what would you like to do more of. Everyone has different interests and, as I said in my talk today, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to know your strengths and own your weaknesses. You might be an idea person, but not so great at execution… so find someone who makes it happen! There are some who love research, and others who love developing an idea in the best way. Build your team with this in mind.

If your idea isn’t project-oriented, that’s OK, too! Maybe you just feel your life would benefit from having a collective around similar goals, or a support group that meets regularly? There is strength in numbers.

One foot in front of the other

The next step is to find someone (or several people) to collaborate with… but where do you start?

  • Throw your idea out there!
    Bring it up at parties, or on Twitter or Facebook. See who it resonates with it. Start thinking of what questions you can ask, and what questions other people ask you. See what happens when you start placing a focus and intention on your new idea. (Hint: people come out of the woodwork)
  • Invite a friend for coffee/tea and talk about it.
  • Invite 5 friends for coffee/tea and talk about it.
  • Post an ad on Craigslist.
  • Post in forums centered around the topic you’re interested in.
  • Go to meetups near you with like-minded individuals.
  • Create a meetup, inviting like-minded individuals.
  • Create a blog & invite people to collaborate.
  • Important: Don’t listen to your inner critic. Keep going. ;)
  • Trust the process. Experiment. Play. You never know where it’s going to go.

Helpful Tools for Collaborating

  • Google Groups
  • Facebook Groups
  • Evernote – One of my absolute FAVORITE tools these days to collect notes, thoughts, quotes and more. Syncs to mobile devices, and you can share notebooks, too, for collaboration.
  • Dropbox – 2GB is free! And you get more space when you refer people (hech hemm, so use my link, please ;)
  • Start a blog: WordPressTumblr or Posterous – invite others to post things with you
  • Google Docs – word docs, spreadsheets and more.
  • Tom’s Planner – totally forgot to mention this today. I love this tool! Gives you a great bird’s eye view into a production schedule on a project.
  • Skype
  • Email/IM, or you could go one step up & use Campfire

Thanks again to all the friends, old and new, who came out to see my talk and participate in the conversation. So fun! I really hope that I see a few of you at an upcoming Church of Craft day, or at one of my next upcoming talks: Sat, March 12th at SXSW in Austin and then again, back here in SF, at the Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs in August.

Want to watch the full hour of my talk? It’s a pretty DIY video (my fault for not making sure my friend Ron brought his nicer camera :p) but it works for those who wished they could have been there:

Watch the Creative Collaboration: Don’t DIY Alone (video) from willotoons
Credit: “DIY is Overrated” photo used in presentation was taken by Brittney Bush Bollay

Fill in the gaps… who or what’s missing from the lists above?
What Creative Collaborations are you doing and/or are on your radar? I know we’ve only scratched the surface with the above, and I’m missing a bajillion great ones, so let’s hear it. Leave a comment below to add your thoughts!

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe via email!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *