If you’re a designer who primarily works alone, you may find it difficult seeing eye-to-eye with another designer. However, creative collaboration is essential in enhancing your design skill. When executed successfully, collaborations can lead to something far greater than you could complete individually. Here are a few strategies to keeping your relationship with your creative counterpart civil and constructive.
Establish goals and define roles.
Knowing what skills each of you excel in helps to figure out which responsibility will be assigned to whom. Communication is key. Sit down with your team and discuss what each party needs to do to complete the task efficiently. Talk about your creative strengths and what you need to improve on. Once you’ve figured out how to divide the work, create a list of goals for yourselves. Defining these roles can help prevent designer do-it-all’s from doing what they love to do, which is everything.
Have brief, frequent meetings.
Set up meetings a few times a week to keep everybody on the same page. Present where you are at with your work to see what needs improvements. This allows everyone to feel included in the design process while providing opportunities for constructive criticism. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table and bouncing ideas off of each other can bring light to ideas that you may not have considered yourself. Be open to new viewpoints by asking questions to clarify.
Avoid battles of ego.
Whether you’ve accepted it or not, all creatives have egos (yes, I’m looking at you). Disagreements may be inevitable, but ditching the “my way or the highway” attitude is important for moving forward in your work. If you prefer a different font over their font choice, talk it out and find a middle ground. Discussing why you think one design works better than another gets you on the same page and allows you to distance yourself from your work and view it with fresh eyes.
If you still can’t find agreement, make a decision by testing a design to see how it fares in the long run. Remember that reluctance to cooperate can lead to flawed, unworthy design work. Refusing to make necessary changes can cause your project to lose its cohesiveness if you’re both trying to go in your own direction. It’s okay to plead your case, but know when you need to swallow your pride and accept when you’re wrong, especially if the project starts to lose its unity.
Seize the opportunity for personal and professional growth.
The benefits are endless when collaborating as a team, and this is the best opportunity to see your work through different eyes and grow professionally. Know that no design team is perfect. Sometimes you’ll work with personalities that clash with your own, but part of collaborating is to force you to challenge each other to think in a different way. Learning the best way to work with designers unlike yourself prepares you for challenges in the future.