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Communicating with Creatives

Operating with a small full-time staff, Gravity Group has the opportunity to work with a variety of talented creative partners as projects require. Within the past year, I’ve worked closely with web developers, directors of photography, animators, designers, photographers, and my co-workers would have lists even more varied than mine. Though each project presents unique challenges, we’ve learned a few recurring themes that help these interactions produce some amazing work with a minimum of confusion and frustration:

  1. Getting to know you(r creative partner) – You know those team-building games at the annual company retreat that everyone openly loathes? They are annoying, but they force you to get to know your colleagues in a capacity outside of the normal office setting. In the same way, taking even a few minutes over the phone to learn a little about a new creative partner goes a long way in building rapport that helps when you’re working on a tough project together. Send your creative partners Christmas cards, invite them to participate in your fantasy football league, and look for other ways to stay connected even when you don’t have any projects planned.
  2. Careful communication – If you’ve spent some time getting to know your creative partner, you’ll soon learn which forms of communication work well for them. You’ll also be clued in to those instances when they’re obviously confused or frustrated and need a quick pep talk over the phone or impromptu meeting to work through a creative roadblock. Be prompt in providing feedback, regularly checking progress, and making sure they have all the direction and input they need from you in order to proceed.
  3. Learn the lingo – Whether you’re talking with a print designer about blending modes and bleeds, a video editor about the difference between a cut and dissolve, or a photographer about bokeh, speaking the language of your partner is a great way to quickly get in to the project. You’ll learn more with every project, but the sooner you can develop a shorthand that both of you understand, the more efficient and successful the creative process can be. Rather than getting bogged down figuring out what the other person is saying, you’ll be able to get through the nuts and bolts and move on to the more important collaboration that will produce remarkable and memorable collateral.