August 2017. It’s exactly one year since we launched The Fusion Projects. It seemed a good time to write this post. To commemorate, to celebrate and to share a few learnings with you all.
I was all of 19 when I asked to work as an apprentice in a very famous artist’s studio in Delhi. I was willing to make chai and sweep floors but she said no. As time went by I continued to wonder why. Then I had my own epiphany of sorts when I got blind sided by two girls who wanted to apprentice with me. I vowed then that I would never allow anyone into my sacred space again.
I am a self-taught artist. What I have learned is through reading, observation, and interaction. My work has always been a reflection of my everyday life. And I think everyday life is enriched through interaction, connections, and conversations.
It was time to get out of my near solitary existence and get to talk to and work with others. My first round of collaboration with Saarus for Jewellery was a lot of fun mainly because I was working with a friend. Then came the second round with Royal Enfield and Old Delhi Motorcycles.
I put out an open call to ask and invite others to collaborate with me when I launched the concept of The Fusion projects. And there in comes the learning. Learning from the first two collaborations and from the hundreds who wrote in wanting to collaborate.
I thought I would share the same with you all –
- Collaboration is about cooperation and not competition. Please leave your ego at the door.
- Collaborate with those that complement your own skill set and not cannibalize it.
- Collaboration is about respect and honesty. If you are in it to get more from the other without giving as much in return. The exercise will be doomed to fail from the get go.
- Be true to why you want to collaborate. Learning, money or maybe you are looking to enhance your brand by tying up with a bigger one.
- My need for collaboration stems from learning so all these points will necessarily lean towards that end.
- Collaborate to learn and then work out the financial aspect even if financials are the real reason to collaborate. It will keep your design well thought out and crisp which will lend itself to better financials because you have a good design. Of course don’t go overboard and spend money you don’t have!
- Be clear about what the various parties bring to the table in terms of skill-sets, money, ideas and time.
- Be clear about having uncomfortable conversations BEFORE you start. Not during or after. That is a recipe for disaster.
- Work out if it is a one time deal or will be an ongoing affair.
- Have a CONTRACT.
- Work out a timeline/project plan and stick to it. Do ensure your collaborator understands that and sticks to it as well.
- Understand each others working methodology before you start.
- If it is an exploratory exercise to begin with, then I would recommend you give your self a time limit/resource limit etc. Or if both are not an issue then enjoy it and see where it goes.
- However I would still suggest that you have the uncomfortable conversations first.
- The above list is in no way exhaustive but it gives you the general pointers.
Now if you think that there is something you would like to collaborate with me on please write to aarohi [at] artbyaarohi [dot] com.
I got inundated with messages and emails when I last put this call out. But no one wrote back to my response when I replied asking them a few of the questions mentioned above. One person wanted me to illustrate their poetry not realising that they never sent me a sample and neither did they take into account that their poetry might not move me enough to want to paint it. A very sweet person wrote to say that they want to collaborate so that she could have the success she perceived I have!! A few did not get back due to logistical problems.
But the possibilities of learning, doing good work and doing it together exist and I would love to explore that. So please do write in..