How to Collaborate More Effectively: Uncanny Creativity 29

Teamwork isn’t always easy. Yet, we work with others because we know the final product will benefit from everyone’s unique expertise. We can’t work it alone. As a designer, I’m better off with an editor, a project manager, client input, and any other feedback that is available. Those perspectives and skills just offer more than I could on my own.

The first thing that I keep in mind when collaborating is to focus on giving constructive criticism. This means that I feel my input is helpful and positive. I try to exchange ideas without trying to change the other persons mind. These are my suggestions and I know others can take them or leave them.

Avoid arguing and interrupting others. The key to doing that is listening. Listen and let yourself understand that this person is saying what they feel is right from their own experience.

Suspend untested assumptions. Look and listen for the untested statements among your team. Ask the questions: how do we know? Why do feel this is true for this project?

Be honest even if it’s controversial. We have to let others our truth and let them react. They may have good responses to our concerns. Voicing them allows them to be addressed. Avoid negative thinking and nay saying such as adding it can’t be done, it’s been done, it’s too early, it’s too late. These are all easy to overcome by asking or answering why. If it can’t be done, state the reasoning you feel this is a difficulty.

Common Collaboration Mistakes

There are some fairly collaboration mistakes that we can avoid:

Avoid assuming you knowing the outcomes. Rather than assume, provide a next step that tests whether this guess will happen or not. The client won’t like the idea? Only the client knows that.

Avoid demonstrations that show you’re in charge without adding to the project. If you have the final say, there is no threat in listening to ideas. Use opportunities to direct and validate what you can, yet keep focused on the next steps for the project and not on the team structure.

Avoid changing everything. Look at what is working, the positives of how things already are, and keep what you are sure does work. There’s no need to reinvent every wheel completely. Focus on what is broke and how to make those aspects improved.

Avoid doing nothing out of fear to contribute. Every member of a team is there because their opinion is valued. Assert your value. Relax, there is some trust in your judgement just by your presence.

Avoid not getting to know people well enough. Whether the team is connecting for a short meeting or for years, it’s a good idea to have some personal interaction. See your team as human flesh and blood people. This can be the slight small talk at the beginning or end of a meeting, a brief mention of the weather, your hometown, or an experience. Those minor personalizations help others empathize with your ideas and make your points that much more effective.

Avoid not taking responsibility. Any outcome from a group project reflects on all of his members. When things go wrong, everyone is equally to blame. After all, the group has allowed it to happen. In any interaction, all parties are responsible for the ultimate outcomes. Sure the largest portions may have started as one person’s idea, yet it’s the team that implemented and enabled that to happen. Accepting responsibility will empower your involvement in all parts of the process.

You may also want to hear my story of how collaboration went terribly wrong: 6 Dos and Don’t for Killer Creative Teams: Confessions of a Bad Team Player

What are some of your experiences working with others? What did you learn in the process? Share in the comments!

Uncanny Creativity is an art productivity podcast helping you to be more imaginative everyday. Brian E. Young is a magazine art director and artist in Baltimore, Maryland. If you have a design and creativity question I can help answer, send me your letters by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Translating Inspiration: Uncanny Creativity 28

Sometimes we are so inspired by the work of others, yet we can’t quite capture what they’ve done into our own work. Making something new using inspiration can be a tricky business. Here are some tips to make it work

Think of your audience. How can you make something accessible for the audience that you tap into.

Copying or plagiarism? That is the dangerous ground that we all fear. We want people to see the genius of our influences. Yet don’t want to be derivative. Take part of the work, not the whole composition. Try just taking the color scheme, for example. Ask yourself what you like about it and what doesn’t work.

Play on different variations on the aspect you liked until you find something new. Remember your voice, review your work for trends. Imitate and then iterate. Look at inspiration in different mediums then you’re own. Think about the inspiration piece in terms of visual associations.  How does the subject matter relate to the style and elements. How can you use those types of relationships in your work.

Working with and against cliche. Is the intention of your work to be a commentary on a cliche. The point of inspirations is to unlock your own creativity in ways you haven’t before. Put away the inspiration once you have started and push it in new directions.

Uncanny Creativity is an art productivity podcast helping you to be more imaginative everyday. Hosted by Brian E. Young, a magazine art director and artist in Baltimore, Maryland.

If you have a design and creativity question I can help answer, send me your letters by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How to be More Creative Everyday: Uncanny Creativity 27

With a little imagination, you can make creative thinking a daily habit. I’ve talked about creative writing before, and beyond that we can just write out our thoughts. Keep a journal on your phone or on paper. Trying means occasionally failing. Notice your failures and practice being okay with it. It’s no big deal. Fear of failure is something that prohibits all of us from failing. Look for inspirations from your heroes, admire their work and vicariously live with through them. This is a great opportunity to say dream! Find little new things you can do. Even just using new words. Language is a powerful thing.

Tweet this: How can we be more creative everyday? #podcast via @sketchee

Uncanny Creativity is an art productivity podcast helping you to be more imaginative everyday. Hosted by Brian E. Young, a magazine art director and artist in Baltimore, Maryland.

If you have a design and creativity question I can help answer, send me your letters by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Tips for Executing Ideas: Uncanny Creativity 26

What are the steps to making an idea into reality? Allow yourself to get past the hesitation and think about the actions you need to take. Start with a small and simple action. Use your simple start to refine your idea. Build a prototype and then a few prototypes. Create a simple objective and keep it simple, avoid expanding scope. Work in small parts over time, alittle bit each day, to help you start or make it a habit. If you slip up, get past the hesitation again and get started again

The Uncanny Creativity Podcast is a creativity and productivity audio show featuring quick tips for illustrators, designers and other creators. Hosted by Brian E. Young, a graphic designer and artst in Baltimore, MD.

Tweet this: What are the steps to making an idea into reality? #podcast by @sketchee

If you have a design and creativity question I can help answer, send me your letters by e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Blogging and Creative Writing: Uncanny Creativity 25

Blogging and Creative Writing.

The Uncanny Creativity Podcast is a creativity and productivity audio show featuring quick tips for illustrators, designers and other visual arts. Hosted by Brian E. Young.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.