Writing and photographs by Freya Bennett
I have always loved the idea of collaborating with artists of different streams. As a musician, I am inspired by photography, fine art, dance, and film (among many other things). Working with other artists is an amazing experience, but sometimes one that is hard to initiate.
As someone who often doubts their creative ability, I find it hard to approach people in person, or even people I know. Fear of rejection often stops me from approaching people in my immediate creative community (Melbourne). I worry that if someone doesn’t want to work with me, word will get round that Freya is a loser that no one wants to work with. As irrational as that sounds, it’s what goes through my head!
When it comes to working with creative people I’ve never met, people who live far away? I LOVE that idea– I could be rejected ten times by people I’ve contacted from overseas and not bat an eyelid. Because, in my brain, artists from overseas are enigmas, they are these amazing fictional beings who are so busy and important that I don’t even expect a response! I just put it out there via email and often forget about it until I hear back!
So when I contacted photographer Sophie Pellegrini in 2013 to see if she wanted to collaborate on a music project, I was over the moon that she actually responded! We started working together in May 2013 and collaborated on my album as well as a fringe festival show. We became friends through our art and I knew we’d stay in touch. I didn’t know how closely we would be working together on a project so soon after completing my album.
Sophie and I started planning Tigress in March of 2014 and launched the website in June 2014. We Skyped, emailed and Facebook’d our Tigress journey, trying to navigate time differences and editing responsibilities. We sent presents and care packages to each other (which is something I never do with my friends at home, and is a real treat!).
Tigress launched and the rest is history! Sophie and I worked really well together despite never having met, but when my boyfriend and I decided to go on a trip to the states for Christmas and New Year, I couldn’t wait to arrange a catch up with my partner in crime.
This New Year’s Day, I was lucky enough to meet Sophie. We met in Williamsburg, New York City and had a lovely catch up. It was such an awesome experience meeting someone I have worked so closely with on a project that is so dear to my heart (Tigress!). It was nice being able to catch up and chat and for it to not even be a “work” meeting.
Meeting Sophie was like meeting an old friend who you’ve known for a long time! It was a very exciting moment when I recognised her and her sister Leah in the distance! It was such a surreal experience as I have been in regular contact with Sophie for nearly two years, so it felt like a completely normal catch up until I realised how much we have achieved together without ever having met.
The process of collaborating is a great benefit of the Internet age we live in. We are at a stage in society where meeting people from the Internet is a legitimate thing and not necessarily a weird and potentially dangerous thing (when done in the right way, of course!). You can contact artists that inspire you from all over the world and potentially work together immediately!
Being a somewhat shy person, this is a great way to start a project. I can articulate myself and my ideas much better over email than I can in real life. And once the project has begun and I’ve seen my collaborative partner taking my work seriously, I have a surge of confidence and feel so much better about articulating ideas.
I hope that the journey Sophie and I have had encourages people to reach out to peers from across the world. You can create such interesting and wonderful work with people you’ve never met and make friends and connections with an online community!
I’m so lucky I had the opportunity to visit America and that Sophie and my timetables matched up. Meeting someone I’ve worked with for a few years is a special and fun experience and I feel like I have a lifelong friend on the other side of the earth.
Here are some other artists that work together from across the world: The Other Kate Berry