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Interview: Breaking the Chains

Principles for successful creative collaboration


Creativity is an energy - when it flows between people it can produce new solutions and ideas that are transformative. Boštjan Botas Kenda,Professor of Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Ljubljana shared his principles for creating the capability for this energy to flow as part of our Creatorship design and research process.


1. Creativity is relational. Your actions influence the environment and surrounding space, and vice versa. Define your relationship to the environment, collaborators and clients by shaping a shared goal or questions to explore together.


2. Your goal can be like a wide net - it doesn’t have to be too specific, it can simply define a problem or question and allow a lot of scope to explore an answer.


3. Define a goal that will have a positive influence. Your creativity can produce positive or negative outcomes – decide what your values and ethics are for working together and use them as a guide. Articulating your common agreements for working together will also build trust and a safe space for sharing ideas.


4.Build respect by getting to know your collaborators – everyone has different skills, talents, expertise and life experience. If you understand the potential of your teammates to contribute to a creative process, you can maximise their impact - like the players in a football team, if you respect each person’s position and skills, you’re more likely to co-create a winning idea.


5. Get curious - start your process with questions and listen deeply. Take time to understand your clients and their customers, their product and situation. The starting point of a creative process is that everyone involved matters.


6. When your team, clients or the situation generate conflict, define markers and ask precise questions to improve the definition of the client’s real question. Maybe there’s something else behind - sometimes what they really want is the complete opposite to what they originally ask for. Clients sometimes try to use the shortest path towards a final solution, and you can expand the potential of the process by holding uncertainty and creating space to explore more sophisticated pathways.


7. Be invisible in the visual world - aim to facilitate relationships between client and customers rather than be a player in the process. Ideally, at the end, you will be able to step back and no longer be needed.


8. Change is a natural part of the creative process, so be open and flexible in your process so that you have the agility to adapt to unexpected opportunities and challenges that arise.


About Boštjan

Boštjan Botas Kenda is a Full Professor of Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Graduated in Editorial graphics at IED, Milan, Italy. He also teaches visual communication at the Faculty of Architecture and at the Faculty of Computer Sciences. He is the founder and partner of studiobotas, a graphic design studio which concentrates on book design and signage in public space. He led the commission to prepare the national design strategy document. He was Vice-rector for Art and Creativity at University of Ljubljana, Dean of Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Head of Department of Visual Communication at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design. He is cooperative in promoting practice based research and design driven doctorate through CA²RE, ADAPT-r(PRS) and Doctorate Programme in Art at University of Ljubljana. RUK collaborator, and exceptional designer, Boštjan is co-designed and delivered the Design+Science Summer School 2021 at Ljubljana University with PiNA.

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