Over the past two years, Lolita has been helping with the revision of the Audio Sparks for Art website. This has involved some online collaborations with designers and developers to add some new functionality to the site and to create a fresh, more professional look. Always the impulsive girl (would she ever have dated a vampire to begin with otherwise?) Lolita always pushed for building out the site and growing content and to hell with a business plan. She believed that the music for art projects would speak for themselves, and the site’s popularity would follow apace. But faced with a persistently weak response to the site, a consultant has finally been brought in to assist with some business modeling.
Work with the new business consultant has just begun, but the process already speaks to the challenges and benefits of collaborative work. The first order of business in any creative endeavor is the formulation of a concept. In a collaborative effort, two or more individuals need to be on the same page with that concept. That process of getting on the same page results from a lot of brainstorming, respectful challenging of assumptions, and testing. In the case of the Audio Sparks for Art website, the basic concept is that a unique presentation of contemporary art with audio will draw enough organic search traffic to make some money from Google ads. The collaboration partner has stepped up and asked some important questions. Do folks want to listen to music while looking at art online? Will organic search be the primary vehicle for drawing traffic to the site? What are the revenue goals? Will Google ads be sufficient to meet those goals? Why will artists be interested in showing? Why will composers be interested in writing music for the site? Who will write the descriptive narratives? (Yes – Lolita. But can she write ALL of them?)
Most of us work at our creative endeavors alone. But the process of coming up with a creative concept in the collaborative model can be instructive. We should seek out feedback early on in our project. We should not be afraid to share raw, early-stage work within a trusted community. We should stay in touch with social trends and technological developments. Our art does not need to pander to the most recent trend, or pay homage to the most recent technological innovation, but neither should we create in a vacuum. We have a context for our work – the world in which we live and the creative communities and fan communities in which we share. Every now and then we should actually take on a project with a partner. The experience of joining forces and committing to work that will successfully reflect the creative input of two or more contributing artists will drive home just how rigorous the collaborative process can be. You can bring that rigor into your regular solo endeavors.