As I promised, in today’s post I will be sharing with you what it's like to work in a collaborative work environment. All successful animation studios have collaborative work environments, but not in the sense that people think. First, let's clarify the term collaborative, as far as I know to turn any situation into a collaborative effort all you need is two or more people working in conjunction to create a finished product. So, what that means to me is that there can be no boss or overseer dictating how things will be done. That's not really possible, somebody is always going to be in charge at any given point, but this can be a give and take position. Just look how our congress gets things done and how fast they achieve their goals; okay, maybe that's not a great example. I'm so funny! Anyway, what I think people want to know is, what it's like to work in a collaborative creative environment?
I have to say that there are pluses and minuses to working collaboratively. First you must except that in this kind of work environment you never get full credit if you receive any credit for things you've done. It is truly a humble persons’ world, if you like being recognized or rewarded for every little or big thing you do, it is not the place to be. I'm not saying that people don't appreciate or acknowledge your achievements but, you're not going to get a medal for doing what is expected out of you. When you're working alongside some of the best people in your field, doing what is expected is not as simple as it sounds. Something great to realize is that you will always be challenged in your work, you will never conquer it nor will you become bored. You might burn-out but that's another chapter.
Next thing to know is that tasks or your jobs becomes more specific in nature and this means that you don't get many opportunities to get your feet wet on other parts of the business, opportunities are rear, so when they present themselves you have to go for it, even if you are not ready, you may never get another chance. You must realize, the jobs are task specific and the people doing these tasks are really, really good at them, so doing someone else's job is not easy by any means. This is one of the great things about this environment, the caliber of the people you are working with is awesome, and you get to witness them work and learn from them. Your work can and will be critiqued and improved.
Okay, the coolest part of a collaborative working environment is that you are expected to be involved. You are right in the mix of things, working things out, making suggestions, solving problems; you are a player in the game. You're not just a stooge pushing a button or someone who is waiting to being told what to do every minute. Yes, it is true that you are working under several bosses but the projects are vast and they don't always have direction or answers for you, so you have to improvise and problem solve and draw like a maniac. This leads me to the next and most important part of this kind of working environment.
Responsibility, accountability, and ownership are key elements to making it all come together and work. Along with the key elements also come the necessity for compromise, and this applies to all personnel, from top to bottom, and I mean everyone including owner, boss, right down to the simplest worker. Because these jobs are so big and everyone has a specific job to do if something breaks down the whole process is effected. You are expected to get your part done and done right. You have to take completely ownership of your task even though you may not like it or agree with it. The trick here is to make it your own somehow. Lastly we have compromise. Everyone, and I mean everyone will, at some point, have to compromise on something to get the job finished, out of all the key elements this one is the hardest and most important. If I had to explain or give a definition for collaborative work environments it would be compromise.
The greatest thing I've experienced is the personal growth that comes with the collaborative creative work environment. I could have never achieved the level of growth in my artist life so quickly without being in this environment. Thank you, to everyone that I've worked with, I know you all made it possible; I've learned so much so fast. I hope I have done the same for others as well.
This was inspired by the sketch above. Baby ducks, come on, so cute.
This was an illustration done for a poem my dad wrote. I compiled a bunch of his poems that had similar themes and made a small book for him. He's a very prolific writer with a range that varies from writing stories, educational materials to poetry. He is a very talented poet; he has brought me to tears more than once from his writings.
Speaking of collaborative work this is an illustration from a children's book I'm illustrating, it is a collaboration of five or six people, to include my wife and eldest daughter. It is not moving very fast.
I did this piece to beef up my portfolio after I got laid off from Disney, I had very little color pieces to show.
These three clown illustrations are from the poem book that I did for my dad. They have been digitally re-mastered, as they say. These were originally sketched on paper but finished in photoshop. It was my very first attempt at really working on the computer to do full out illustrations. Back then I was working on a wacom tablet, very difficult, now I work on a cintiq and I'm loving it.