One thing I try to be aware of as a creative who is sometimes in collaboration with other artists is to respect, appreciate, and acknowledge their efforts through good communication. Even if I have another idea or see the vision differently, I do my best to share my thoughts in a way that is not offensive but open and collaborative. If I fall short or miss the mark, I do my best to apologize if I do offend someone. I find that carrying around my ego, in general, is exhausting and unhelpful in most life situations. It can significantly hinder and sometimes sour the creative process with others in creative spaces.
If I choose to work with you, I trust and admire your artistry, and I don’t want to change your artistry. If we are in this together, I hold onto that notion firmly. Sometimes a collaborator has to stop and ask for input at each step; this lets me know they may be more involved and the collaboration may be nuanced. When a leader has to pull teeth for input and cooperation from other collaborators to achieve the goal, that means one person or specific people are doing way more work. This may also be acceptable depending on the dynamics initially set up. Issues can arise when the project nears its finish or completion, and egos jump out from the person or people least involved beyond a certain point of the project or vice versa from those who put forth more effort. I’ve seen this play out in projects I’ve worked on and many other situations outside my own, and it’s never fun.
In my experience as a Black female R&B artist in the music industry, I have found working with men is often a challenge at some point in the process. This usually comes from personalities not realizing they lack communication skills, relying on ego, or both. Some men, even if vulnerable while creating, often carry misogynistic tendencies from mostly being in “collaboration/competition” with other men who function the same way. Whenever I have worked with male or female creatives and had a fun and easy process, we put the ego aside to get the best result we can all be happy with. Those are the experiences I love and hope to have more of in the future. Creating that way always reminds me of why I do what I do and why I love it so much.
We all have triggers or moments when our ego rears its head. Here are six things we can be mindful of (myself included) as creatives to ensure this doesn’t ruin projects, future creative opportunities, and relationships with other creatives we admire and respect.
- If questioned about a creative choice or asked to expound on an idea, try not to see that as an attack or rejection. Others often want help understanding your vision so they can move accordingly or offer valuable input after fully understanding your point of view.
- If you feel something is off or not going in the right direction, it’s okay to communicate that. Things go left primarily due to how something is shared, not being expressed, or when we puff out our chests and refuse to hear each others’ concerns.
- If you are receiving feedback that may sting, try your best to listen intently and not feel the need to react or assume another party is the problem for not praising everything you contribute. Reacting negatively or disrespecting others is a recipe for disaster. This is important for professional creatives like photographers, designers, stylists, MUAs, etc., and anyone else getting PAID to offer a creative service. You still have to remember you are offering a service, and the goal is to ensure the client is satisfied with the work you are contributing. If you feel disrespected or like the ask is out of your scope, you can express that effectively or remove yourself from the project if needed.
- Many creatives live in their world, and it’s a gift and curse for us. We are all very sensitive about our work. Some creatives are unaware and a bit dishonest with their contributions, sometimes demanding more credit than what is deserved. Don’t be one of these types who offer minimal input or sit back for most of the process and then clamor for an unfair amount of recognition or claim to be shut out of the process. It leaves a bad taste in others’ mouths, and others’ experiences with you can be seen as a “lesson” or a cautionary tale to others.
- On the flip side, be fair. Check your ego when you offer a lot of input. If you want to do everything independently, don’t work with others. It can be a rough experience to be asked to collaborate and yet consistently shut out. Be conscious about not interrupting people sharing ideas and allow an exchange to flow.
- Remember that being creative is such an honor. Getting the chance to work on something fun and exciting with other talented people is an opportunity many people wish to have. Shake off that ego or need to be correct and let the passion amongst all parties be the driving force of any project you participate in.