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# COLLABORATE,

YOU COLLABOAATE,

WE 0013.ASORATE

COLLABORATION IS THE ESSENCE Of CREATIVE ACTIVITY. The interrelationship of two or more people in quest of a common goal is about

the most fulfilling of human experiences. After all, we are born of collaborators and our continued success in life is measured by the marriages we

make with others in the service of creation. But this "Double-Blind" issue of U&Ic is not about collaboration as a cosmic force. Rather, it focuses on

the mutuality—and the yin and yang—between two or more individuals in the creation of graphic design.

BY STEVEN HELLER

Graphic design is a creative discipline where collaboration is a necessity. Just look at the roll call of credits in any design annual.

Sure, there are visionaries who create the styles, develop the ideas and promote the concepts that the majority of us apply. But

ultimately, even these people are spokes in the wheel of process.

No matter how talented, a designer invariably must answer to a client, which might be a design director, creative director, art

director or other mediator who plays an integral role in the project. Just as an editor may tweak an otherwise fine text into brilliant

prose, an art director might make a similarly invaluable contribution to a graphic work. In graphic design, like film, television and

architecture, other creatives and their functionaries are intimately involved with the outcome. Creativity, indeed originality,

depends on creative trysts between two or many partners.

Some collaborations are imposed, others are divined. Whatever way they are formed, collaborations offset weaknesses

and deficiencies and bolster strengths. But collaboration is much more than a simple calculus—MORE meta +

COMMON COAL= INCREASED EffICIENCY/GREATER PRODUCTIVITY—it is a fusion of chemistries that results in

a unique entity. When everything is working well—when, for instance, ego satisfaction derives totally from pride in the

project as a whole—then the collaborators' distinct contributions result in an outcome that one person alone could

not have accomplished.

While a good collaboration is one of the most intense human relationships, it is also one of the most precarious. For

a collaboration to succeed, the collaborators must, like a well-tuned machine, interconnect in every way; each must

have a defined role—a function, purpose, job—that does not conflict with the other's abilities or jam up the works.

While there are no preordained rules for how collaborations should work, the best efforts are those in which the

participants respect each other's turf, while nimbly crossing the boundaries as necessary. One can be controlling

or submissive and also be a good collaborator. Balance is the key.

But a collaboration cannot be measured or weighed by imposing rigid parameters. Germany wasn't reunited in

a day, after all. The best efforts occur organically. A kind of natural selection determines who does what and how

tasks commingle. Even if these functions overlap, in successful collaborations the participants accept their own

boundaries. In failed ones, territorial imperatives give way to an attack of the superego.

The design field is full of collaborative configurations—business partnerships, creative teams and, more and

more frequently, mates who form full- or part-time creative liaisons. Charles and Ray Eames and Saul and Elaine

Bass were hugely successful married teams whose passions to create particular objects overcame the difficulties

created by marriage and the barriers imposed by ego. Other collaborative couples who come to mind, such as Mas-

simo and Lelia Vignelli, R Scott and Laurie Haycock Makela, Ellen Lupton and J. Abbott Miller, Rita Marshall and Etienne

Delessert, Michael Donovan and Nancye Green, Forrest and Valerie Richardson, Katherine and Michael McCoy, and

Louise Fili and myself, balance on the tightrope that tests both physical and emotional endurance. In these collabo-

rations, the need to create something larger than the sum of its parts based on shared passions overcomes the

otherwise immense obstacles.

Individually, the designers mentioned above have professional personalities apart from their mates and reputa-

tions based on individual merit. They function separately and could easily continue to work independently. But some-

thing happens when they are drawn together—call it electricity (perhaps the same force that brought them together

in the first place)—that transcends the limits of their individual capabilities.

In all candor, I am incapable of designing as well as Louise Fili. She, on the other hand, cannot write. What we share is

a passion for the beautiful and arcane artifacts of design culture. So together we produce books about graphic style. I have

the broad view, she is detail-oriented. I excavate the materials, she organizes them. I write and edit, she designs. Nevertheless,

she reedits my editing, and I critique her design. We fiddle and finesse, differ and argue until our joint effort is complete. And

then, after the labor pains are over and forgotten, like all good collaborations, we do it again.

As the designers profiled in this issue attest, collaboration adds rather than saps strength. It no more diminishes one's talent

than sharing the same loves and hates. By broadening the creative experience and adding additional levels of creative power, the

process becomes consummately addictive. The result is an entity that would not have otherwise been born.

STEVEN Halta's MOST RECENT BOOKS ARE FACES ON THE EDGE: TYPE IN THE DIGITAL AGE (VAN NOS.

TR AND REINHOLD) AND DECO TYPE: STYLISH ALPHABETS Of THE '205 AND '305 (CHRONICLE BOOKS).

HEADLINE/BYLINE: ITC FLORINDA

TEXT/B10: ITC FLORINDA, ITC CONDUIT BOOK, BOLD, BOLD ITALIC

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