SAGMEISTER & WALSH

“My experience in large brainstorming sessions is that everybody’s hoping for someone else to do the heavy lifting and come up with something good.”—Stefan Sagmeister

ANDREW BOYD

“It’s hard to be a prankster activist and suffer all of the defeats, without having a sense of humor and camaraderie about it. When people ask me what I do, I tell them I’m failing to save the Republic.”—Andrew Boyd

ZACK DENFELD

“There is something about infinite games, or infinite problems, that make them particularly challenging for people who want endpoints. ‘We did this! We solved this! We won! We finished!’ But complexity means that never happens. I don’t think that contemporary industrial human cultures are very good at accepting that.”—Zack Denfeld

CARMEN PAPALIA

“I hadn’t yet realized that my support-based relationships could result in a mutual exchange.”—Carmen Papalia

NINTH LETTER

“From a global level, it is difficult to take risks in education, and collaboration is always a risk…Things like the rise in the cost of education, tenure reviews, and other external and internal pressures in academia, naturally tend to push toward safe bets.”—Brian Wiley

UNDERCONSIDERATION

Bryony Gomez-Palacio: “I’d much rather collaborate with a single person and go over a concept while washing dishes, than sit in a meeting room for hours.” Armin Vit: “It’s also a very honest exchange; we have no time for worrying about each other’s feelings.”

DESIGN-STUDENT GROUPS

“When we were juniors, our last class of the week ended on Thursdays at 6 PM, and Happy Hour usually runs from 4 to 7 PM. All of us did that every single Thursday, and that really strengthened our bond as a little family unit.”—Jimmy Breen

SILENT BARN

“Buy the cheapest space you can find and split that cost with your friends. Then do whatever the fuck you want.”—Devin Lilly

WOLF + PERRY

“Having a partner with whom you can just casually talk to about the creative process, is invaluable. His accessibility, even during the most low-key moments of my life, is so important. We go on epic walks with our dog and talk about work.”—Anna Wolf

DETROIT SOUP

“Soup and salad make it easier for people to gather and have a conversation from a shared experience. It’s a very human experience: eating together, sharing in storytelling, and sharing values and beliefs by just asking the question: ‘What project would you, as a citizen, vote for?’”—Amy Kaherl

ADCOLAB

“I think that art and design practice today involves being flexible in one’s thinking: being not only a specialist, but also a generalist.”—Brooks Hagan

MICA CDP

“There is never a collaborative experience that doesn’t suck at some point along the way.”—Mike Weikert

A BETTER WORLD BY DESIGN

“The workshops are tailored to a smaller audience than the main stage talks. TED is a lot of ideas; what we focus on is people who are actively doing things.”—Tino Chow

KIEL + BARBER

“We’ve essentially bridged the technical point where the needs of type design outstretch the ability for one person to do everything themself…Large character sets aren’t just English, web fonts need hinting, and super families are huge tasks.”—Ben Kiel

THE COPYCAT

“I was sitting next to a dildo factory and a magician. There were just so many things going on.”—Rob Brulinski

BLEU ACIER

“If an artist is going to come to a print shop, that’s like getting naked. They can’t hold anything back. I’ve found that most of the mediocre prints that I have done are because I can’t get an artist to open up.”—Erika Greenberg-Schneider

SIX01

“What you’ll get out of the collective is directly connected to what you put in. If you hardly show up, you’ll hardly feel connected. Paint every corner of the floor yourself, fix a broken window, put up a shelf, and you’ll feel a fulfilling amount of ownership. Ownership is key for everyone in a collective.”—Anthony Ruivivar

THE ART GUYS

“For one person to do something that is seemingly stupid is one person doing something stupid. But when you have two people doing something stupid, it is more than that because it implies a communal activity. I think it welcomes people into the dialog.”—Mike Galbreth

!ND!V!DUALS

Winston Macdonald: “That’s my biggest piece of advice: Work with as many people as often as possible from the beginning.” Luke O’Sullivan: “Yeah, once you turn 30 years old, you’re screwed.”

THE McCOYS

“We have found that when putting together teams of strangers who attend our workshops, the methods of storytelling and literally acting out design solutions helps people break down the social barriers that are often a natural hinderance to successful collaboration.”—Katherine McCoy

UNDERWARE

“When we first met, we spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week with each other. We got to know each other well, which makes it possible to have less face-to-face time. We mostly know what the other person is thinking, without seeing their suppressed frown.”—Bas Jacobs

BALTIMORE PRINT STUDIOS

“The need for interdisciplinary designers is certainly growing, but often it’s a jack of all trades, master of none situation. There’s something to be said for bringing in the experts on something you’re not as good at, and working with them to make something better than you could do alone.”—Kyle Van Horn

BOSTON AWESOME FOUNDATION

“People organize themselves in a different way than they used to. I think that secular groups have taken the place of churches in some cases.”—Kara Brickman

LAURENT BAARSLAG

“Traveling to different places means you have to meet different people and talk to them and learn their culture. You have to relate to different kinds of people, even when you don’t know them. You have to ask questions.”—Laurent Baarslag

FREE RANGE STUDIOS

“What was great was, as 26-year-olds, we already had 15 years of collaboration under our belt. I think that is definitely something that we owe a lot of our success to.”—Louis Fox

TYPE TOGETHER

“The increase in the publication of new quality fonts over the past few years, did make it harder to be a one-man/woman foundry if you expect to make a living out of selling your typefaces. We think it is more viable to join forces and create a kind of type cooperative.”—Veronica Burain

CON ARTIST COLLECTIVE

“Forcing people to face into the room, not allowing people to work privately, and requiring members to walk past each other, all force moments of active and passive interaction.”—Brian Shevlin

AZIZ + CUCHER

“Our shared personal lives is more of a subtext that permeates all of the works that we do and think about at any given time.”—Aziz + Cucher

McSWEENEY’S

“The hope is that all of us are following projects all the way through, instead of each of us adding our own little wisdom, and sending it down the conveyor belt to never see it again. That is definitely a benefit of having a really small team.”—Jordan Bass

OK GO

“When really great things happen, it’s usually because people lose their sense of authorship and chase whatever is the best idea.”—Damian Kulash

TOMATO

“There are unique moments that tend to form with a lot of collisions. You need to create a situation where that is likely to happen.”—Simon Taylor

TYPE SUPPLY

“That is the hard part about doing everything on your own: You can get locked into something, and you can go down a road for too long before you realize it is a bad idea.”—Tal Leming

ANIMUS ARTS COLLECTIVE

“We try to distinguish the work that we do as not only collaborative, but more accurately, participatory. The distinction is important to us because artwork can be interactive, and a team can collaborate, but our work is not complete until a participant has collaborated with the artwork.”—Preston Dane

DROOG

“We like to connect experts from complementary disciplines to designers.”—Renny Ramakers

SYRACUSE COLAB DESIGN MFA

“People have realized what Disney and Apple figured out and capitalized on a long time ago, which is to create holistic experiences. Collaborative teams are figuring out so many different ways to create experiences and package those experiences.”—Don Carr

STEVEN HELLER

“Imposing an ideology will foster rebellion. Design collaboration is simply one more tool, one more method, one more asset in developing good work.”—Steven Heller

DUNCOMBE + LAMBERT

“In the art world, it is individuals who are recognized, not collectives. John Cage is lauded in the art world, but how many can rattle off the names of those people involved in an art collective like Fluxus?”—Stephen Duncombe

THE INFANTREE

“Here is the key to all of this: In a small-town like Lancaster, which is highly collaborative, your name is all you have. If you make one bad move, word gets around really quick.”—Ryans Smoker + Martin

TEMPORARY SERVICES

“The public will tell you that your ideas are working or not. Friendly audiences go to art openings; these people tell you that you’re great, congratulations, and let’s go have a glass of wine. But I wanted more critical engagement.”—Brett Bloom

JACOB GUBE

“I definitely see that there is potential for design software to make it easier for design teams to work on a single design synchronously.”—Jacob Gube

MANDEL + ZAKARI

“It is very fluid. We go to the beach, and while our daughter is running off into the ocean, we might be talking about the work. It is integrated into our lives. There is no separation between work and leisure.”—Chantal Zakari

HISCHE + MASCHMEYER

“What Jessica does is like client management. Because she works for herself, she works directly with the clients. Being in-house is very different from working in client services. I can be very good with work where I have established trust and deeper relationships on a longer-term basis.”—Russ Maschmeyer

GRL + FAT

“It’s the Wu Tang syndrome. You can’t have 11 dudes in a group, go on tour, and everybody comes home happy with each other, and everyone is rich and famous. There is already such little money in the arts, and dividing a small pot into even smaller sub-pots just doesn’t work.”—Evan Roth

TOORMIX ATELIER

“Not being the ‘official’ Toormix office, this space makes it much easier to generate a fun and informal atmosphere. It helps visitors to be more open, more creative, and less focused on the usual business.”—Ferran Mitjans + Oriol Armengou

SKOLOS-WEDELL

“It is like a tennis game: if you both stop hitting the ball, the game ends.”—Tom Wedell

POST TYPOGRAPHY

“Oh, I love being the bad cop.…We like it when students synthesize conflicting advice.”—Nolen Strals

THE EMPOWERMENT PLAN

“On paper, people have this idea of who they want to hire, but Veronika showed that this is a destructive model, to only use a stereotypical workforce.”—Erika George

MK12

“We play to our strengths, but at the same time, we share the role of Creative Director.”—Timmy Fisher

CHRISTIAN BUCKLEY

“I was talking about this idea of having to go to a separate location to do your collaboration versus collaborating where you are working: the more you force people to step outside of what is natural for them, the less likely that they are to do that.”—Christian Buckley

YELLOW BIRD PROJECT

“We’ve always found that giving the collaborators a lot of freedom, and not too much direction, really helps produce creative and original things.”—Matt Stotland

KERN AND BURN

“If you’re looking for a collaborator, find someone who challenges you to be better, and who you respect as a person, not just as a designer. It’s much easier if your skill sets compliment each other.”—Tim Hoover

PLAYLAB

“After a day of working through this with the engineers at the university, we figured out that through a year’s worth of praying at Mecca, 10% of Saudi Arabia’s entire energy production would be paid for just by the act of praying.”—Archie Lee Coates IV

ODYSSEY WORKS

“What is it like to know a person so well that you could know how they receive an impression?”—Abraham Burickson

QUEST UNIVERSITY CANADA

“I proved, empirically, that students learn absolutely nothing in three months in one of my classes at Columbia.”—David Helfand

LUPTON + PHILLIPS

“We make it safe for students to take chances, and you can’t do that when you’ve got a bunch of drama queens.”—Jennifer Cole Phillips

TISCH ITP

“Students come to invent a career, not to enter a profession.”—Dan O’Sullivan

0 TO 1

“As important as it is to collaborate, it is also necessary to develop as an individual designer.”—Tamara Petrovic

AARON GOTWALT

“Because Kyle and I have worked together for so long, our professional relationship is sort of frozen in an emotional maturity of ten years ago.”—Aaron Gotwalt

THE UNDERSTORY

“We have all of this ritual surrounding marriage, but we don’t have a ritual for divorce.”—Heather Beecher Hawk

THE QUESTA PROJECT

“Not long ago, serif and sans had their own background; they were almost considered ‘enemies,’ unable to work together on paper, or at least not without difficulty. With Questa, we demonstrate that when deriving the sans version from the serif version, they will mix seamlessly.”—Martin Majoor

COLLABFINDER

“Most product ideas never get built because they never get started; so if we can help people start projects by finding a collaborator, CollabFinder has the potential to have immense impact on the world.”—Sahadeva Hammari

EYEBEAM

“Learning to trust artists is the hardest hurdle for some institutions. Of course that is easy to say, but to really believe it enough to give support and validation to people working outside of generally understood realms, is difficult for people to accept.”—Roddy Schrock

TYPEJOCKEYS

“Eight would be the maximum; we want to keep it private and warm.”—Anna Fahrmaier

BROTHERS DRESSLER

“The way we overcome disagreements on a design is by making prototypes.”—Lars Dressler

CAMEL COLLECTIVE

“I would speculate that with everyone coming from a different discipline, all working on something that they have no expertise in, or bringing their own expertise into something in which they have no expertise, that equalizes everyone in a wonderful way.”—Anthony Graves

PETER FINE

“I don’t think it is possible to do ‘sustainability’ without ‘generosity.’…The benefit of having a graphic designer at the table is that they are trained in design thinking, and that is helpful because our problems are moving so quickly and designers understand the ephemeral.”—Peter Fine

THE YES LAB

“People who are older, have tended to lose a lot more. They lose the fight over and over and over again, and that can really affect the way people think about what is possible. Students haven’t been defeated so many times yet.”—Mary Notari

JAMER HUNT

“Our students get over the idea that they, as an individual, have all of the answers. It is not an easy thing to get over. Most designers are taught to approach things individually, as if they always have the brilliant end-all idea in their head.”—Jamer Hunt

FLUX FACTORY

“Disagreement and dysfunction are essential elements of true collaborative experiments.”—Nat Roe

PROJECT PROJECTS

“These simultaneous texts rhyme at certain points and clash at other points.”—Rob Giampietro

LEE DAVIS

“To deal with very complex issues and problems in the social sphere, that themselves are interdisciplinary and systemic, you can’t look at it from only one lens and one discipline. You need to leverage the value, experience, knowledge, and perspective from people with different skill sets, disciplines, cultures, and contexts.”—Lee Davis

GAEL TOWEY

“Maybe the maker community is a place for gender roles to begin breaking down and falling apart.”—Gael Towey

REBEL NELL

“The creative process helps restore their confidence because they are believing in themselves again.”—Amy Peterson

DESIGN RE:PUBLIC

“I have been working on writing upside down. We sit across the table from one another. We both have pencils, and we are writing on this big piece of paper, and I write upside down.”—Lindsay Kinkade