Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical Watercolour

What is an Art Collaboration and Should You Participate in One?

art tipsKerrie Woodhouse

What is an art collaboration?

An art collaboration is a single art piece or project completed by multiple artists, all making a contribution to the same art piece.

So Much Fun. 

Getting involved in an art collaboration is a great way to shake up your art practice. If you are feeling a little creatively stuck, find yourself procrastinating in your lonely studio and struggling to make art, then an art collaboration might be just what you need.


Benefits of art collaborations


There is nothing quite so motivating as a deadline.

Except perhaps other people depending on you. If you do an art collaboration you have both of those.

Sometimes that is all you need to get you making art again - a bit of incentive! In an art collaboration you and your fellow collaborators will have to agree on a timeframe and each have to complete their own part so that the next person can continue the group project.

Task reduction and manageability

One of the great benefits of an art collaboration is that the responsibility for the whole project is shared. That means that your task is already reduced from a whole art piece to just a part of an art piece.

So if you are feeling overwhelmed or time poor, or daunted by your art practice (it happens to us all at one time or another) then an art collaboration might be just what you need.



Art making can be a bit of a lonely endeavour. Admittedly, for me anyway, this is in the pro column most of the time. I make art for a bit of quiet me-time, an escape from the world.

Even as part of a collaboration this is still true for a good part of the activity.

But there is also something rather wonderful about contributing to something a bit bigger, being part of a little community, even if that is just one other artist.


Sometimes we get a bit stuck in our art practice because although we want to draw or paint we can’t quite figure out what to make and how to get started. In a collaboration there is already a theme - someone has already figured out what your project is. All you have to do is follow instructions.

It is a funny thing but having restrictions is actually very freeing. The truth is that making decisions is exhausting. If you are finding it hard to sit down and make some art sometimes not knowing what to make is an insurmountable obstacle mostly because of the many decisions you face before you begin. For instance…

What subject should you draw or paint?

Which medium is best?

Sketch book, paper, canvas or something else?

What size?

In a collaborative art project most of those choices are already taken care of. In a recent mixed media art collaboration that I participated in I found that there was even more to this point than I had anticipated. Not only did I already know what I had to do, but I also found that having the work of my fellow collaborators offered additional prompts and inspiration. The work of the other collaborators gives you the challenge of making your part fit with what is already there. At the same time, little suggestions are offered by what has already been added by others, making ideas seem to flow a bit easier. Let me explain.

My recent 7 part Frankenstein Mixed Media Art Collaboration

Our art collaboration was a Frankenstein project. 7 of us each completed a body part in turn - I think she turned out super cute, don’t you?

Meet ‘Frankie’ - 7 part mixed media art collaboration

Meet ‘Frankie’ - 7 part mixed media art collaboration


By the way, at the end of the post you can see the video version of her creation.

My part was the 7th and I was to do the legs and feet. I found that it was easy to choose colours and supplies because I was trying to keep a cohesive look. 
And then when it came to making choices about things like footwear, ideas came to me a bit easier as a result of the work of my collaborators.

Our Frankie was given an impressive alien arm so I did toy with the idea of some funky sort of steampunk boots to go with that. Hmmm, way out of my comfort zone… No problem - ideas flow easily when you have the work of so many others to draw upon. 

Another collaborator gave ‘Frankie’ a giant Australia to hold. Aussies often wear flip flops so that’s what I put on her feet.

(Side note… here in Australia they call flip flops ‘thongs’, although to me that’s underwear so that tends to create some rather peculiar mental pictures for me…🤔😝)

The only choice to decorate them was purple daisies since a purple daisy had been added to the top of our collaborative piece by someone else. 

Another collaborator had given Frankie a cute set of beaded glasses and matching necklace so I decided to give her an anklet to complete the set.

We were running out of room at the bottom of the page by the time it came to my turn of adding the legs and feet. This is exactly the sort of problem that fires up your creativity. 

What if she was sitting down?

Yes good idea. If you are holding Australia, you probably want to do it sitting down.

This meant that all I had to do was figure out a good leg and foot position in a seated pose. It is much easier when you whittle down your drawing project into a clearly defined task like that.

Want to watch me painting my part?

To sum up - art collaborations are terrific fun and bring many benefits.

At first, I must admit I was a little scared by the prospect of drawing on other artists’ work (and possibly messing it all up…😬) But once I got started the benefits far outweighed this fear.

If you have a chance to join an art collaboration, my advice is to jump right in!

Happy painting!

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