The Art of Collaboration By Susan Nash

I was recently approached by fellow artist Cathy White to collaborate on a piece of artwork. We discovered that we both love and admire Frieda Kahlo, so that would be the topic.  She sent me a photo of what she would be working from…an old photo of Frieda.


I said, “Sure!” We discussed a few rules and she got started. Cathy painted a lovely image of Frieda on canvas in beautiful sepia tones and delivered it to me. 


I decided that I would add color and flowers, buttons, beads and hand stitching and make her into an icon-type figure. 


I thought it might be fun to share some “Steps for Collaboration” with all of you, should you decide to jump into the game.
  1. Decide on a project

  2. Talk about rules, or guidelines. Agree on what to do with the piece after it is complete. Perhaps, agree ahead of time who will keep it, or will you sell it, and decide on a price.   So, Cathy and I agreed that, “anything goes”. If we sold the piece we would split the money evenly….you get the idea? The point here is that it is important to not have an attachment to your work, or a vision for its outcome, which leads to the next step:

  3. Trust the process/give up control.  Be willing to “allow”. Be open to possibility. Giving up control won’t work unless you believe in the talent and vision of the artist you are co-creating with. It gave me the freedom and confidence to experiment and play.

  4. Embrace surprise…..again, if you don’t have control and let go of a vision for the piece, you will probably be delighted with the results. Embrace it.

  5. Most importantly: HAVE FUN! It may wind up not being an amazing work of art, but look at what you learned and felt along the way. 

Making art can be lonely, but collaborating with another artist is not only fun, but forces you to push yourself creatively…maybe even helping you to get out of a rut. Try it and HAVE FUN!