Community over Competition: Why working collaboratively works for creatives

Plan Make Do founder Laura Mulhern believes that creative biz success is all about working together - read her top reasons why!

‘Over the years, collaboration has been the key to my success as a creative. No one person can achieve great things without the support of others. And I’m certain the success of the creative industry as a whole, is down to collaboration. It’s how we challenge each other, how we support each other and how we create something new that keeps us thriving and delivering great things for the world.

Local creative and owner of arts marketing agency STØRIIE, Laura Mulhern has been working with arts organisations, brands and individuals across the UK delivering creative campaigns and brand development since 2008. Having worked alongside artists of all kinds for many years, Laura started Plan Make Do in 2019 to support creatives in business development through one-to-one sessions, workshops and talks.

Here are some of my favourite reasons why I always encourage creatives to collaborate as much as possible:

It can be a support network 

One main issue I see time and time again is freelance creatives feeling isolated. It’s particularly hard if you are stuck at your desk or studio for long hours at a time not talking to others. Working on a collaborative project, even if it's with a creative friend who lives close by, gives you a reason to meet up, to talk, to produce something new together. Many times the best projects come when you bounce ideas off of one another and it counteracts the feeling of loneliness.  

You can share skills and resources 

Collaboration means you can also lean on each other's skill set or materials and equipment. There will be weaknesses and strengths in any collaboration and by identifying and allowing each other to shine on what you can each bring to the table will make a really successful collaboration. It also allows you to reach new heights within a project that you couldn’t do before if working alone.

It can challenge your own work 

A creative collaboration usually results in delivering a new product or offer that might encourage you to try out or learn about a new artistic practice - or even a new way of working that you can use in your own practice later.  

It can open up to new networks to all parties 

One of the exciting things about working on a collaboration is that the person or brand you are working with will open you up to a new network, which allows new audiences to find out more about you and your individual practice, as well as the new collaboration offer.  

You are in a stronger position to apply for funds and get media coverage

Funders tend to favour partnerships and collaborative projects as they are more stable and risk free; if more people are working on it and investing in it to make it a success, the less likely the project will fail. It also means you can apply for larger pots of money if you can pool resources too. 

Collaborations are also great newsworthy stories, especially if one part of the group already has a name for themselves or if a number of you are working towards a common cause that’s causing a stir online for instance. 

Collaboration keeps the industry fresh and innovative 

The beauty of the creative industry is that it’s always evolving and exploring innovative ways to share and use artistic practices to better the world in some way. And this is only ever down to creatives working together, challenging the status quo, and sharing insight, skills and assets for a greater good. Throughout history, we have seen so many art movements, creative protests, new ways of living through artistic endeavor all actioned not by one person alone, but by many people working together.  

Through Plan Make Do, Laura offers regular educational workshops for creative businesses and freelancers, as well as 1:1 consultations - check out what she's got going on here, or have a read about how TOSH collabs with Plan Make Do on our Start Up Programme for emerging creatives. And if you fancy trying a collab but need to meet some more creatives first, we can't recommend our free, monthly Creative Community Hub enough!

Bournemouth based Katie Brookes Illustration and Emily Coleman of homemade slow fashion brand Studio Zipcode collab-ed in 2021 on their fabulous 'Babes in Bloom' print