Creativity is a funny beast – especially when you’re trying to be creative for a living. It’s a journey of self doubt, dizzying highs and terrifying risks. Surround yourself with the right people and it can be like pouring petrol an a creative fire. Surround yourself with a series of parade pissers and that fire will fizzle out faster than you can say… well… fire… you get the fire analogy anyway.
Whatever your creative bag is, whether it’s designing stuff or writing stuff or singing stuff or just generally making things, finding the right person to share in the creative process can be tricky – really tricky. So how do you find that someone to go on the journey with you to take your creative offering from small time to big business?
Decide whether or not a creative partnership is right for you
Not everyone needs a partner in their business. If you have the requisite skillset, time and energy to dedicate to running your creative business – if you have the confidence in your work and your art to believe in what you’re doing then there’s no harm in going it alone. If you’re someone who likes things how they like them, and doesn’t like other people interfering in their work, then a creative partnership probably won’t work. You can always outsource small aspects that you’re not happy to do yourself (finances, for example, seem to be the bane of most creatives’ lives). The time to seek out a creative partner is if you really need a 50/50 partnership and you’re missing half of your skill set. For example, you’re a fantastic writer with no clue about visual branding. Or you’re an amazing lyricist with no idea how to pen a tune. Or a fantastic artist with no knowledge of marketing and promotion. You get the idea.
Don’t go looking
It sounds like a cliché, but the right person will come along – they really will. Similarly to romantic relationships, they will show up when you least expect them and they won’t be someone you conjured up in your head – they’ll be even better. The reason I say that you shoudn’t go looking are twofold: firstly, if you’ve already decided what you’re looking for, you could miss what’s right in front of you and secondly, in my experience, life doesn’t work that way. Put your intention out there to find a great creative partner and let it go – they will arrive, I promise.
Lay down terms from day one
If you decide to hop into the creative sack with someone, make sure you establish clear terms and boundaries from day one. Designate different duties, make sure you’re clear about who is funding what, who will profit and how. Make your payment terms very clear and get everything signed and in writing. Yes, it seems boring and pessimistic, but it establishes a good working relationship from the very beginning and it’s best that everyone knows where they stand.
Be open, be open, be open
There is no point in having a creative partnership where you lay down your ideas as gospel. While it’s often a good idea to let people get on with what they’re good at, it’s also important to stay open to change and to let whatever you’re putting out there evolve. A big ego has no place in a creative partnership.
I would say that a great creative partnership absolutely cannot thrive between two people who fundamentally don’t get on. You’ll be spending a LOT of time with your creative partner, and nobody wants a difficult life – choose someone you can laugh with, share all the joy and excitement that comes with creativity and build each other up and encourage each other. What’s the point of doing what you love if you don’t love it?