Artist Collaboration Project

Collaboration is a buzzword these days, and for good reason. It’s rare to find true collaborators, but when you do, magic can happen. Each individual adds their own talent or flair to the mix, and the final outcome is greater than a solo effort. I am speaking from experience, having just wrapped up two successful years with my artist group, Dusseldorf International Artists. Our last exhibition, Reflections, was grounded in the concept of artistic collaboration. To understand that that means, take a close look at the two images below. The first, by Germany artist Hilla Hueber (visit her website here) is a drawing made of ink and charcoal. In the image below that, by American artist Zane Blanton, you'll see a digitally-coded piece created in response to Hueber's drawing. As artists, we used each other's work as inspiration. A true artistic collaboration, and a unique idea for an art show.

Holding Up Her Half of the Sky  by German artist Hilla Hueber.

Holding Up Her Half of the Sky by German artist Hilla Hueber.


Following on the success of our first show, we decided to plan something even bigger and better. The first exhibition occurred only several months into the forming of the group, and was hosted in the format of a house party. If you think of Paris in the roaring 20’s, where artists of all types socialized and partied, you get the idea. We created two gallery rooms, one to present my colorful paintings and another to display the darkly mysterious works by our group photographer. We had live performances by an acoustic musician and a contemporary poet, and delicious gourmet hors d'oeuvres by a talented chef. The place was bursting with creative energy, enthusiasm, and a genuine element of cool.

You can read more about our first exhibition in an earlier blog post here.


Our little group grew by a few more dedicated members, which brought more energy and ideas.

Why not host our next exhibition in an actual gallery?

Which other performers could we bring in?

What equipment would we need?

Lady Voronoi  by American artist Zane Blanton

Lady Voronoi by American artist Zane Blanton

And with a strike of inspiration, we decided to make it a collaboration project. Meaning, instead of the typical group show with several artists work, our artworks to be exhibited will be inspired by each other. We became paired off with collaboration partners, and shared a recent artwork that we wanted to exhibit. Then, we were tasked with creating a new artwork based on the other’s original piece.


The multimedia Exhibition

Now, I don’t want to bore you with the immense list of tasks that go into putting on an exhibition in a gallery, but let’s just say this: it was WORK. And what usually comes from hard work? Discoveries, progress, and success! We were granted a short weekend spot at Anna Klinkhammer Galerie in the middle of the arts district, the Altstadt. 

We showcased artwork by eight of our international artists, from seven different countries and four continents. Not only that, but our multidisciplinary show was bursting with different media, including painting, digital illustration, ceramic sculpture, photography, and interactive video installation. Performances included an acoustic guitarist and two poets. The relation and combination of the diverse media was unexpected but visually and audibly dynamic.

We had so many visitors, I was told that some people couldn’t even enter the gallery because there was no room to stand. It was another success!


my takeaway

One of the major takeaways I had from this experience was this: No matter how much you believe in your abilities, it is a good idea to ask for help when you need it. Collaboration involves trust. I learned to put my trust in people who I knew were dependable, and honestly, they surpassed my expectations. For example, something I (naively) had never considered was contacting the press. This is due to the fact that I was a non-German speaker living in Germany. I had become used to living an insular expat life, without thinking of the wider population. Thanks to a very dedicated group member, we not only promoted our show, but we had a press release in both English and German. You can read the English version here. If we didn't have each other, we never would have reached as high as we did. 


So, if I may offer some advice to you, dear reader. Go for your dreams, but don’t forget to stop and ask for help along the way. You can’t do everything on your own. If you try, you won't get as far. When you do get some help, communicate your appreciation. Always be thankful for the support of others.


What's possible

Now, a question for you. What is something you’ve been wanting to do, but have been afraid? Consider this...if you asked someone for help, would it be more likely to happen?


One of my favorite quotes is by J.K. Rowling, someone who I deeply admire. It says “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” It takes nerve to reach out to others, but don’t let that stop you on your way to your goals!