One of my only true regrets about my photography career is not coming to an earlier understanding of the importance of creative collaboration. I spent most of my career in an entirely myopic, little world. Everything in life was framed through a tiny rectangle or square and all I thought about was the minutia of photography. In hindsight, this was a major mistake.
Over the past decade, the vast majority of my best work and projects have all been collaborations. I’ve created joint, creative partnerships with writers, poets, designers, and others coming from the far reaches of the creative world. Working with these folks showed me both the limit of my skillset and, more importantly, the wealth of future possibilities.
Just over a year ago I was approached about doing a Zine collaboration. A “Zine” is an informal magazine, and believe it or not, there is an entire global Zine community that is currently exploding in popularity. My first response to this project was “No, I am too busy.” In addition, the partner, in this case, wasn’t a fellow photographer, designer, or illustrator. They were in fact the director of a clothing brand.
The director in question was Rick Elder from Beyond Clothing. I didn’t know Rick at the time nor did I understand his persistence. But the more Rick kept appearing in my life, the more I began to envision the possibilities, and the more I wanted to do the project.
One of the things that intrigued me most was the fact that this collaboration had very little to do with me and almost everything to do with the work of other creatives. The mission statement was simple; “Promote understanding through dialogue and art.” Rick and I began to scheme about how we could accomplish this mission, as well as how we could amplify the work of the contributors, while simultaneously building a community of like-minded people.
Navigating a new world
When a project like this comes along it is very easy to get mentally sidetracked by the romantic side of the equation. Seeing the first copy of our beloved Zine rolling off the presses to the delight and wonder of the contributors would be dreamy. But suddenly I was confronted by the reality of the logistical side of things. Things like the legal requirements, design requirements, website requirements, printing requirements, finding contributors, creating a submission portal, editing, creating submission guidelines, and a range of other issues quickly became front and center. Not to mention, someone has to pay for it all.
You have to really want projects like this because they are complicated, at times stressful endeavors. But as you get closer to the goal, closer to your idea becoming a physical, tangible object that has the potential to really become something greater than the sum of the parts, it all becomes entirely worthwhile.
Here we are now
So, a year later we are finally seeing our goal come to life. AG23 Zine is an offset printed, 6×9, softcover Trade Book, with #70 paper and a matte cover. We were incredibly fortunate to land Zoë Sadokierski as the designer and we were equally fortunate to land nine incredible contributors who have provided stories on a truly diverse scale. Blurb’s Large Order Services team is handling the print run (2000 copies) and our web team has the accompanying website up and running.
Now comes phase two of the plan; the marketing and promotion of the work inside the Zine. We want people to know these artists and their stories. For Rick and I, and everyone else involved, this is a long play collaboration. We are envisioning multiple issues for 2020 and already imagining ways we can continue to grow this community.
Collaborations almost always push me outside my comfort zone, and AG23 is no exception but ultimately, they all lead to new experiences and new knowledge and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Feeling inspired? Connect with your creative community and start your collaboration.