The End Of The Collab Age
(Or going for "Slow Art")
I've been doing collaborations going back as far as ... 2008 or 2009 I think. Thats almost 10 years. Think that is pretty impressive to say the least & honestly: I do not regret a millisecond of the decisions I've made regarding that. Collaborating has brought me amazing opportunities, friends, photoshoots and memories. My entire portfolio and finally, my business too, has been build upon this amazing thing where artists and designers connect over the world, exchange ideas & pieces ... leading to a wide variety of photoshoots. However, I'm at the edge of my offical first full-time year of being in business and I feel that collaborations should come to its glorious end and make space for a new artistic lifestyle: "Slow Art". As I like to call it (inspired on the "slow fashion" movement, being more conscious about the origins and value of clothing which I absolutely love).
Collaborations have become the new "tf" (Time for aka Unpaid) work & I highly recommend anyone to pursue this type of networking (within polite boundaries). However, for me I feel that - now I'm a business that actually pays her bills & rent with this and made this a full-time daytime job - its for me more of a loss then a gain. Not because the people I'm able to work with are "under my skills and level" (by far!) ; its the same decision like I made when I decided to stop collaborating with models: it's become a (my) job and even thought something can be incredibly fun to do; it won't pay your bills and it definitely won't save you time. Bills will never end and I find myself with too little time at the end of every night after a long day of work.
While that is an incredible big factor why I decided to slow down immensely when it comes to accepting ideas; it's also part of a bigger - and to me the most important - next step in my business: Slow Art. Creating for the quality over the quantity. Resulting in a better time management, better results, a (hopefully) more stable income due to an increase in range of clients over time AND a wiser investment.
I'm a strong believer in being honesty & being fair. I very rarely work outside my Riddersquad Model Team (a little joke, but they're my trusted group of gorgeous faces) because I do not wish to break my own rule that one should pay & the other not. And because I wish to be respected in my job: I do this for a living and I wish to be paid for what I offer as professional service, no matter who you are. Its also that believe that people should value my respect & time, that I want to pursue this "Slow Art" system:
Let me first break down some things about what are the benefits of stopping collabs:
- Money saving. I realised I had to limit because my accountant told me that in 3 months, I hit 500 euros ONLY in shipping expenses & Import taxes. Thats a lot of money.
- Time Saving: I have so much for from the past months that I can handle 2/3 months of double posting every single day & I will still have work to share. Thats a lot of shooting ... and selecting .. and post-processing.
- Quantity vs Quality: I've already starting to retouch less pieces & shoot less sets a day. The result is that my photos have gotten already so much better because all those little details & bits start to pop up. It makes a noticeable difference ... after just a few weeks. I can also spread out the "sharing" more ... with these days algorithms isn't a bad thing.
So that are three major things: time, money & energy. Three things I severely lack (and have brought me some serious issues in the past few months. From which I recovered pretty well! I'm doing great these days compared to the past few weeks ;)).
All of that leads me to my biggest goal: Investing everything differentely.
I want to create less work but better work; allowing myself to finish a piece and not go into a routine of "finishing" so there is no backlog (and working myself sick). Resulting in just a mass quantity that I will never be able to share in all its glory as it gets lots. Or not seen at all (because nobody sees it because its too much anyway). In a quality that is ... good, but not my better or best.
Doing less collaborations will also save me time to do other things and most of all: save me money. I've been investing so much into expenses leading me to an amount of work for a portfolio I pretty much have so ... saving is a good thing. I want to be able to balance my life out more: financially, personally & time wise; being able to focus better on my clients as well and giving a better service as I will have the energy.
And last but not least, to me the final & actually most important part of all: I want to be able to return what has been given to me & what I ask from people as well.
I want to be able to purchase (wearable) art.
There it is. Because, how can I ask from people what I'm not willing to give myself? Its something I've realised and have brought me so much further already in such a short amount of time: How can I do my job & demand people respect my work if I'm not willing to pay for someone else their time and job in the same freelance industry?
I want to be able to purchase pieces I love. Instead of paying shipping over & over & over again and the occassional expensive import taxes. Very often, making collab between 60 to over a 100 euros only in expenses ... And for what? Yet another photo in the photo-pool getting lost?
I want to be able to invest that money in pieces I can keep. This is both a business move, as I know my clients come to me for what I have (and honestly, I love to be able to give people the opportunity to become whatever they want when they set foot in my studio); I also - on a very deep & personal dedicated level - want to respect what my fellow freelancers and artists do. I want to support the small businesses like myself, order by order, to make them successfull. Because I appreciate their work and their hours of no sleep and life dedication. Like I am and dedicate my life to my art. There is no greater gift to us then people who support and appreciate our time and effort.
Does this mean I will stop collabs? No, of course not. I hope those who I have worked with are still up for the crazy concepts and I'm sure new will follow too. This this mean I wil buy every single piece out there? No. What I do want is to be able to buy the pieces I love. Like what Liv Free creates (photo above) to give a recent example or what another favorite designer offered me (a sample piece for material costs ... and probably more to come as we both agreed on "artists for artists" and working together, allowing me to buy pieces for future investments andcover my time expenses on the project and her to pay her bills is a mutual win in my very honest opinion).
I want to give the respect that has been given to me, from those 100+ clients since I started that value what I do as a professional. They can decide if they give me a discount or not; if they send something extra or just a sponsored piece. The money I save on shipping things back will be spend on making businesses grow. Myself and others. And thats what this new age is all about.
Thank you for reading this far. It means a lot to me.