Collaboration is the most difficult and satisfying kind of artistic endeavor there is. It is difficult because it requires the artists to surrender their egos before they even can begin to create. It’s the only way for it to work. It is worth it because the results are always surprising and the process leaves both partners forever changed.
Of course, all artists are collaborators of one kind or another. We absorb influences from other artists, from people we meet, our friends and family, people we respect, and people we never met. Every storyteller has heard a story, every painter has seen an image; the collaboration I am speaking of here is the truest kind. The kind that produces the best work of either creator’s life; the works that define them, not distant influences or casual contributors.
This highest form of collaboration requires faith and trust in abudance because it can be a terrifying experience. It can feel like you’re giving up your innermost self, that you are making yourself exquisitely vulnerable, that you are surrendering everything you thought was important. You feel this way because this is exactly what you are doing. But this is the leap of faith that is required to reap the reward.
It easy for artists to be selfish and convinced that their vision is the only thing that matters. They throw tantrums over guitar picks, brushes, and lighting with astonishing regularity. They become convinced that their particular technique is what is most important when usually it’s their technique that is holding them back. These are bad habits that get in the way of collaboration. Good collaborators keep each other honest and focused on what is actually important as opposed to the ritualistic minutae we distract and delude ourselves with. The best collaborators make each other better artists.
Neither of you has sole ownership of this collaboration. It all belongs to both of you. There is no joy or pain in it that you will not share. I know that in this sublime moment some would think it strange to speak of pain and but on the mountain of this moment we are contemplating the landscape of the rest of your lives together, and I know that every terrain holds loss and grief in unknown measure and location. It is certainly there. Even if you never know deprivation or never have a single quarrel, there will be a last kiss between you someday far from now. It is a bitter thought, but let it make your first kiss all the sweeter.
What the two of you make will be something new in the world. I bless it, as does the visible and invisible audience assembled here today. Create lovingly together.