Collaboration verses Auteur

Armand Cabrera

As a production artist the idea of collaboration comes up a lot in my discussions with clients. A lot of the art world caters to making art in service of something else. I’m not talking here about people starting out or learning the particulars of a job requirement. I’m talking about professional artists who have established their ability. This is just as true for a portrait as it is for an illustration. In production art I’m often called on once the style of the project has been set and I must insert myself into that process as seamlessly as possible. 

Collaborative jobs take a special type of compromise that has nothing to do with an individual’s ability as an artist. Some people try to make the argument that it makes them a better artist but I disagree. I think it makes them a more pliable artist and individual.  At the very least it makes one a different artist not necessarily better or worse than when left alone. One who sees collaboration and compromise as part of the process needs to agree to the idea that other people who don’t actually do your job are better at it than you are; but to become that person you have to give up your own system of beliefs. 
When I work in production I give them what they want. If they just want a wrist to take their orders that’s what they get. If they want my creativity as a jumping off point for their ideas they can have that too. If they want to leave the authorship to me, I’m glad to oblige. They get to decide. I give them the best work I can, given the parameters they create.
No two people can be in agreement every step of the way. An artist must tamp down their personal voice and they most likely never know the artist you could be if left to follow your own heart and mind. Whether you make the decision consciously or not you have abrogated your abilities and knowledge to someone else. You will never know if left to your own devices, what you would have produced. Where would your art take you if left to explore on your own and accept or reject precepts as you discover them?

My solution for this is personal work. One of the reasons I developed a gallery presence is there is none of this in my gallery work. I in my personal work I paint pictures that I want to paint. No one is in on the decision process as I work. All the creative aspects of the painting are my decision. The gallery is free to accept or reject paintings I offer to them and buyers accept or reject what gets hung on the walls by buying them or not.

For me this is where my creativity and skill get pushed to new heights. It the only time I grow as an artist. I have to shrug off all of the outside opinions and dig down deep for my own solutions. I stand or fall on my experiments and decisions. Its all mine and its where the real art is for me. No one can see the visions in my head or how to paint them better than me. I could find solutions in other artists work but that would be a cop out for me, it has to come from inside. The best part of this path is when these paintings connect with clients. Then I know I have accomplished what I have set out to do. It’s not about shortcuts and monetary success though, it’s about the truth of my journey on canvas and it’s the only thing that really matters to me.


1 thought on “Collaboration verses Auteur

  1. "No one can see the images in my head or how to paint them better than me."
    Knowing as well as believing in one's creative confidence, I feel, defines the creative person.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.