I partnered up with Shelly in an exercise on collaboration in my FYE class. We were instructed to sit back to back with a piece of paper and a pen and then to try to complete the same drawing strictly through vocalization. It seemed like a silly activity at first, but now I realize it’s purpose.
I started simple with a circle in the center of the page, but as shapes got more complex, that left more room for error and different interpretations. “Small” to me may have been huge to her. Clarity of words was vital to producing similar drawings. At the end of my turn we looked at both drawings and compared. We had very similar scarecrows and backgrounds.
Next was Shelly’s turn to control the drawing. For some reason she decided the subject matter was to be my father. I’ve known her far too long. It was extremely difficult to keep up with her marks and to know exactly where to place something. She was very vague and I had to make a lot of decisions for my drawing myself. I’m sure she encountered the same issues while I was instructing her.
In the end, we both had almost identical interpretations of my dad, but I wondered how similar they would be if I hadn’t known her so well. She is someone I’m extremely used to conversing with and I feel very confident in our communication abilities, but what if I needed to do the same thing with a stranger?
I thought back to past collaborations both in art and other things such as group projects. Communication is an essential part of working with others and after so many years I still have yet to master it. It’s hard to work with others because we all want to be in charge and have things go our way. Most of us also fear that the others won’t work as hard as us or won’t have the best ideas. Standing your ground while also taking into account the opinions of others will ensure a promising outcome.
Collaboration will be a major part of any artistic career, but especially mine. My goal of becoming a tattoo artist relies on my ability to satisfy clients and to make art for others not just for myself. Communication is extremely important and I aim to get better at doing so.