Since 2014, I have traveled to over 11 different countries collaborating with artists and creators along the way. From teaching beat-making in Ethiopia to my recent music & fashion collaborations in South Korea with artists Horim Shin, Ho Woo, Yun B and Rocio Cadena, I’ve gathered 5 tips to help you master the art of curating cross-cultural collaborations. Although my background lies in the musical space (songwriting), this advice is applicable to any creative field.
I’ve gathered 5 tips to help you master the art of curating cross-cultural collaborations.
1. Know Your Unique Talent Trait—and Express It
Whenever you are in a new country or collaborative space, try to understand very quickly what you offer that is unique. For instance, if you are a dancer who specializes in hip-hop breakdancing, let others know. Also, be receptive to the special skill sets your fellow collaborators bring to the table because combining all of these unique talents is what makes international collaborations so vibrant and memorable.
2. Offer Cross-Promotion
One of the great things about collaborating with creatives from around the world is that you can expose each other to new fan bases. When all collaborators are willing to cross-promote a joint project on social media and/or via press outlets in their respective countries, it gives an added benefit to all parties by expanding each other’s exposure to new audiences.
3. Focus on Creative Fusion
Many times as artists or creatives, we have a vision of how we’d like a creative collaboration to unfold. However, I’ve learned that staying open and actively listening to all collaborators involved and paying attention to their visions is key. When we allow for flexible fusion that merges everyone’s perspectives, we can open the door for something so much greater to manifest. Two colors are better than one.
4. Be Patient With Language Barriers & Cultural Differences
When collaborating, we will encounter new ways of thinking and working collectively that are culturally influenced and nuanced. Also, language gaps can sometimes cause communication difficulties and misunderstandings. Patience is paramount to move through these differences and challenges. Patience shows you are willing to take the time to understand the other person’s perspective and exudes a willingness to overcome barriers in order to share an artistic experience.
Patience is paramount to move through these differences and challenges.
5. Remain Flexible with Timelines and Distance
What happens when collaborations start when you are together but don’t finish? It’s important to establish goals and expectations before parting ways to create an accountability system. Just as important, however, are patience and trust. Projects will most likely continue virtually, whether through file sharing, skyping, and so on. With hundreds or thousands of miles between, try to be understanding and adaptable about meeting timelines. But also be prepared to make peace with unfinished projects. Sometimes life gets in the way.
About the writer: Ami Kim is an award-winning songwriter, sonic alchemist, multi-instrumentalist, and music producer who curates creative exchanges in the U.S. and internationally.