Helga Sierra
Helga Sierra

Journal: Stories on Creativity & Adventure

Learn about the artist's process, photo stories, traveling & more. 

The Power of Collaboration

I went to business school, (twice).  While we talked about the value of teamwork, I think I truly did not grasp the value of collaboration until this year and endeavoring in more creative pursuits.

My realization came about when a friend was telling me about how she and her friends make music together.  It sounds simple, but it takes discipline and vulnerability to open up your thoughts and ideas to another human.   They have created amazing songs, but there are different processes they must go through to get these amazing ideas into life.



Then I realized that sometimes I could get stuck at work, on a design, maybe due to my failure to grasp a client's vision, or my lack of knowledge to execute a certain skill.  Nonetheless, if it wasn't for my teammates finishing up the work or fixing what I had done the client would have received a subpar finished product.  Creating subpar goes against everything inside me, so being willing to recognize where something is lacking takes some time to learn. 


New experience

Last spring, I did something I had never done.  I went on an Instameet.  Yes, I live in a social media world, but Instagram has been one of my favorite apps, even before it became popular, The idea of sharing the pictures you are taking with your friends was genius, now it has grown to a giant marketing phenomenon and everyone is a photographer.

However, I had never experienced a group of strangers meeting up in a place for the sole purpose of taking pictures and creating compositions that would be interesting and showcasing of a certain lifestyle and the surrounding area.  We went to an are in Nashville called Germantown and just took pictures. People were so kind and friendly, some were new to the city, some were beginners in photography, others who do it for their job.  My personal challenge, besides learning about collaboration was getting to know 5-6 people a little bit more. (So I'll use those pictures as I share about some key points in creativity. 


A few lessons in Collaboration:




without trusting your creative partner you won't get anywhere.  

  1. To establish trust you must build a relationship.  (It makes sense then that in places like China, people don't do business unless there is a basis for friendship).
  2. It removes the barriers even when there are opposing ideas or thoughts.  If you trust someone you are more likely to consider their idea.


you might be wrong and they might be right and vice versa. 

  1. I tend to be a proud person and think that everything I say is right. THIS IS FALSE. Share your ideas, the more the merrier, then you can cross out the ones that have absolutely no relevance.  
  2. Side note:  Try to push for more than 7 ideas.  The brain for some reason tends to stop at 7, maybe that brilliant moment can come at idea 10.


your creative partner matters.  If you're trying to create a joint vision they have certain goals in mind.  In every communication chain, listening is just as important as sharing


Constant Learning mindset:

  1. I ran into a photographer friend at a coffee shop the other day. I admire his work greatly and have kept up with his work as he has grown in the fashion industry.  I asked him some questions about the program he was using and about his computer. He gladly answered, but throughout the conversation, he kept repeating that he was learning everyday.   In that moment I realized that it was this mindset that is most valuable. 
  2. HAVE THIS MINDSET.  constantly learn, constantly push yourself, constantly challenge what you know.  
  3. Be curious.


Failure is not really an option

  1. Yes.  your end result can be terrible, but you probably learned something along the way.  So maybe it's time to change your perspective.   

For example, I was painting something new yesterday and made a terrible decision with the colors and marks that I made. However, I learned that I shouldn't use that color combination and just set my painting aside. The same can happen when you work with someone else. 

So, if the fear of "what if I fail?" haunts you.  Take a breath and think about the experience as a learning opportunity. 


Sharing makes ideas a reality

  1. Talking about your ideas, writing them down and then making them happen with someone else makes them REAL.  
  2. You are creating by sharing.  They no longer are a thought in your mind, but you have a tangible product, a tangible moment, a picture, a drawing, a song, and organization. 
  3. Sharing can be scary at times, because you might be self-conscious or want to take care of your idea, however releasing it to the world can be more fulfilling. 


Creative people thrive with creative people

  1. Make time to have conversations with people in your community who are being productive and creating amazing things.  In the free-lance world, you don't have the benefit of having a team surround you every day.  I've only recently captured and internalized this.  The result is getting creative momentum for my projects after I share with other creatives. 
  2. Keep a learning mindset.  You can always learn from other creatives. In return, you never know when your paths may cross again, and where a great collaboration could happen.
  3. Find people who challenge you. It is in the moment of a challenge and sometimes stress when the best ideas happen. 
  4. I wish I would have learned this one earlier.  While I took a couple of art classes in college where I got to collaborate creatively, I never truly understood how valuable it is to find other creatives that could have better ideas. 

Have fun

Always important: try to have fun.  Being in this state, releases more freedom when creating and the true nature of your creative side will come out. Life is too short to be upset. 

I could keep going, but for now.  I hope you enjoyed some of these lessons and maybe learn them faster than I did.  Leave a comment in the box if you have thoughts or have experienced the benefit of collaborating with someone. 

I also hope you enjoyed the pictures. They are the result of meeting random people for the sake of creating.  The instameet was one of my favorite ways to see Nashville in a new light, so I'm thankful I met Alex Ciaramitaro and Mitchell Hollander, who set up this fun way to meet people and celebrate creativity.  While you're at it you should also check out: Nashville Explorers Club, a cool instagram showcasing adventure and Carter Wright's work, another talented designer and wedding photographer.


Next on the blog

A new collaboration with my friend Jed Freiheit, a talented musician soon to be releasing his new music.  Look through pictures and learn about the concept behind the shoot. 


It's my birthday in August and I'm about to have a massive art sale on all my paintings! Stay tuned as I drop the prices of all my originals. 

HSD_August Art Sale