How to foster great creative collaborations

How to foster great creative collaborations

I recently visited designers, artists and storytellers Chris and Andrew Yee at Blank Gallery in Sydney’s Chinatown, on the opening night of Cosmic Friends, their collaborative exhibition in celebration of Lunar New Year. We spoke about how their culture has informed their experience as creatives, why representation matters in the creative industry, their collaborative process, and how they’re using Adobe tools to compliment their work.

Chris Yee is an artist, working Illustrator, Designer & Animator specialising in traditional “pen and paper” methodologies. His brother, Andrew Yee is a multidisciplinary artist working across illustration, video, installation and podcasting. They’re both extremely talented, and total legends too. I’m so inspired by their vibrant aesthetic, and how they use the power of storytelling to create work that speaks to their life experience and growing up in the Asian-Australian community. It was a pleasure to profile them for Great Chats, my interview series with Adobe that profiles diverse creatives from this region and explores their thoughts on the future of technology in the creative space, and how they integrate Adobe tools into their workflows. Check out my interview with them to hear their insights.

Chris and Andrew, two Asian men, sit on the floor at a round table, surrounded by colourful hanging textiles and rugs

In particular, I loved hearing about how they cultivated their strong creative bond and what makes a great creative collaboration.  Collaborations have the power to build community, strengthen relationships, and fuel creativity - which is especially important in a world that can sometimes feel divided. I’m a firm believer in the concept of ‘Community Over Vanity’ and the notion that when we join forces and lift others as we rise ourselves, our communities can be stronger and more powerful than if we try to go it alone. 

Whether you’re siblings who regularly create together like Andrew and Chris, or a someone about to embark on a creative collaboration, here’s some advice to help you forge strong creative connections. 

A vibrant and colourful art installation featuring 3 statues surrounded by found objects. In the background, colourful prints hang on the wall.

Andrew's artwork as part of the Cosmic Neighbour exhibition at Blank Gallery, Sydney.

Know your collaborator
Andrew’s advice is to really get to know who you’re collaborating with. I totally agree, and feel this makes the process of collaborating so much more smooth, and fun! As twins, Andrew and Chris obviously already know each other very well. They also know the stories they are each telling and share a lot of the same inspirations, so collaboration may come more easily. But as Andrew says, knowing your collaborator is important so you can know what you each want out of the project, manage expectations, and ensure you’re on the same page. Knowing their personality can help too because it gives insight into how they work and respond to challenges and creative problems.

A colourful art installation featuring hanging pennant flags, and scarves. On the floor are vibrant textiles and rugs, and a round decorative table.
Chris' artwork as part of Cosmic Neighbour

Communication is key
Chris values good communication and transparency in the creative collaboration process, and I have to agree. Knowing where all collaborators stand at any given stage of a project is important to ensuring you’re all on the same page. Like any relationship, a creative collaboration will thrive when all your cards are on the table and it helps to mitigate conflict and misunderstanding. However, Chris believes that you don’t necessarily have to agree on everything. It can actually be interesting and fun when you don’t because it can lead to different interpretations of the work, and allow fresh and varied ideas to flourish.

Artwork and custom phone cases from Chris and Andrew Yee's collaborative exhibition Cosmic Neighbour Colourful scarves by Chris Yee at the Cosmic Neighbour exhibition

Leverage tools to help boost collaboration
If you’re a creative professional, chances are you’re going to be liaising with clients, collaborators, fellow designers and artists, or members of your own team, if you’ve got one. Strong communication skills are essential in my opinion for creating harmonious working relationships. And having the right tools at your disposal to help maintain strong communication when you’re working collaboratively is also a must.

I often work on design assets simultaneously with my collaborators, and Adobe Express has some great tools to help you do this. In Express, I might start a design to get the creative direction set, and then hand it over to a collaborator to add copy, details, edits etc. You can easily share designs with others from within Adobe Express, by using the Invite button to give them access to the document. This is great if you want feedback from a client on a work in progress design, or if you want to add editing notes for a collaborator to implement. You can use the comment feature to chat back and forth about the design until you’ve got it just right. It’s great to have all your notes in one place right within the design dashboard, so you don’t have to jump in and out of your emails to communicate about the project.

Cosmic Neighbour is showing at Blank Gallery in Chinatown, Sydney until Feb 26 2024. I highly recommend checking it out if you are in the area!

Follow Chris and Andrew and learn more about their work! |
IG: @yeetheeast | @andysfrnds

Loved the Great Chats episode or want to connect? Send me a DM

Get creative!
You can try Adobe Express for free here.

This blog post was created in partnership with Adobe Express and accompanies a video series called Great Chats, which profiles diverse creatives from this region and explores their thoughts on the future of technology in the creative space, and how they integrate Adobe tools into their workflows. In this series you’ll get to come along with me to their studios, meet the artists themselves, and hang out with us as I learn about their creative practices and what makes them tick. We’ll also have fun experimenting with Adobe Express and AI, and find out why these tools are so great to compliment our design work, enhance our creativity, and help run the professional side of our creative lives. Watch Great Chats on YouTube, and feel free to share an episode with a creative friend who might find it inspiring and useful. 


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