I’ve done a lot of working with other people – I’ve co-written, been illustrated, written for comics and done a lot of music with people. Collaborations have the potential to result in something that is more than the sum of its parts, if you can get them to work. Here’s what I’ve learned…
Are you thinking about a single project, or a working relationship? Either is fine, but it helps to be clear about your intentions at the beginning. Your intentions may of course change as things develop. Stay clear about them.
Pick people whose work you love, and who love your work. Collaborating is about letting something new emerge. If you don’t love each other’s stuff and don’t respect each other as creators, it won’t work.
You have to make room for the other person’s creativity and accept that they will do things you never imagined. I find this really exciting, but it is also a loss of control. If you want to be in control you’ll end up with people who work for you and that’s not the same as collaborating.
Pay attention to how risk is shared out between collaborators. Does more of the cost (of money or time) fall on one person more than another? How can you balance that out to keep things equitable?
Know your own boundaries and respect other people’s. Especially with reference to the time and money you are able to invest in a project.
Be ready to really listen to your collaborators. Be open to negotiation. Don’t expect it to work by magic.
It may not work perfectly straight off. That’s not necessarily a problem. You may need to invest more time in figuring out how to work together to best effect.
If working with someone inspires and encourages you, that’s excellent. It could turn out to be tiring, demoralising and a grind. Some of this depends on finding the right people, but it also depends on being the sort of person who thrives on working with others. You may not be who you think you are, and some things you only find out by doing them. Mistakes are essential, room for mistakes even more so. Never get so attached to the idea of collaborating, or a specific collaboration that you can’t consider it properly.