Skillshare Talks | The Power of Collaboration Over Competition with Ana Victoria Calderón | Ana Victoria Calderón | Skillshare

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Skillshare Talks | The Power of Collaboration Over Competition with Ana Victoria Calderón

teacher avatar Ana Victoria Calderón, Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Collaboration Over Competition


    • 3.

      Audience Q&A


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About This Class

This short video is part of the Skillshare Talks series that shares footage from live conversations with our teacher community.

Join the Skillshare team at our NYC headquarters with Ana Victoria Calderón - an artist, entrepreneur, and educator. Through this talk, she shares three personal stories of how building community helped her grow her brand, expand her reach, and create long-lasting relationships with fellow creatives. You will learn actionable strategies for how you can collaborate with others both online and in-person to build impactful communities. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Ana Victoria Calderón


Top Teacher

My name is Ana Victoria Calderón, and I’m an American/Mexican artist and author based in Mexico City. I have a degree in Graphic Design with continued studies in Fine Arts. Over the past 10 years I have developed a signature watercolor technique, which I am very excited to share with you!

I teach in person workshops and creative retreats around the world, while licensing my art to amazing companies including Hallmark and Papyrus. I also paint editorial features for magazines, some of my most recent clients are Vanity Fair, Glamour Magazine, International Elle Beauty Awards and InStyle Magazine. In addition to my client work I am the author of four published books on watercolor painting, including "Creative Watercolor" and "Color Har... See full profile

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1. Trailer: I think that I really understood quickly the power of community, collaboration, working with others. Not having that competitive spirit, but more of we're all in this together and we just want to make things and enjoy it. You guys can probably think of two or three people now that you're oh, that person makes the best vase or you start to have these friends that make cool things and you want to invite them to participate in something with you. If you're a photographer, you're going to need a designer to make your cards. If you are an artist, you need to sell your work somewhere that's entirely cross-pollination starts to happen. Every time that you collaborate with someone, both of you are elevated. The best way to attract the people that you want in your life is to really have your message be strong and figure out who you are, what you're all about. Then once you've done that, you can reach out and then it'll be really easy for people to know who you are. 2. Collaboration Over Competition: My studio sign. I actually live in Mexico City. I grew up in Cancun. I paint watercolors for living. It's great to know that you're all interested in watercolor because it is such a beautiful medium, it's portable, you can go anywhere with it, it mixes really well with other mediums. I really like painting with watercolors and then adding gold dust to it then mixing it with pens and white ink, and all this different stuff. Yeah, I paint with watercolor and I have an etsy shop, which is one of the first things that I opened up when I started my career as an artist where I sell prints and journals and I make all things and I made all the fun stuff that you might find on an etsy shop. I also do editorial illustration with my watercolors. I worked for magazines like Glamour magazine, Vanity Fair in Latin America, I've worked with all these fashion magazines. I also license my artwork to companies like Hallmark, and Papyrus, and Dem Dey Go and I teach watercolor workshops. I also host creative retreats. We host this retreats for creative entrepreneurs, which I'll talk a little bit about later. The bottom pictures are, this was last year in Sicily. I also do summer retreats for just watercolor painting. As Mary mentioned, I just published my first book, it's called Creative Watercolor. It's published by Photo crates. It's really rewarding to be an artist and actually do what you love. Everyone talks about how the quotes that are always like "do what you love," It is true. But I do want to talk about something that doesn't get discussed as much. It's actually how lonely it can be when you're a crater and nobody talks about this, I think this little notion inspired this whole talk that I want to share with you tonight. That's a picture of my studio. That is where I spend my precious time painting. If you are a painter crater, you know how amazing it is to just like be in the zone and with yourself and being in this state of creation. Of course, it's beautiful but it can also be very lonely. There have been days where I don't even use my voice, I don't want to speak to anyone because I'm just like in my studio making and making. I want to talk a little bit about that today. I'm going to share three stories with you about how powerful this can be. The very first story I'm going to share is called rooftop sale. This is 2012, in Mexico City. I had just moved to the city, which is like a super vibrant place to be an artist. I moved there specifically because I wanted to be an artist and I knew that it wouldn't be a good place to have craft sales and just meet artists in general. My friend Maurine, who at the time wasn't an amateur, she was good, but she was not what she is now, right now she is crazy successful photographer, which is really cool. But at that time she just liked dabbled in photography. She needed a lot. She approached me and said, "Hey, there's no cool event that I want to go to where I can buy art." She said, "Why don't we make our own sale? That's with our aesthetic, that's with the people, the artists that are our friends that we like." We started this project called rooftops sale in 2012. It's called rooftop sale because it started on my rooftop in my apartment at that time. These are some pictures of behind the scenes of how we made this happen and we just invited, you guys can probably think of two or three people now that you're like, oh, that person makes the best this or, you start to have these friends that make cool things and you want to invite them to participate in something with you. What we did was we curated this group of friends and artists and makers and bakers and creators, and instead of charging a fee for a booth, we wanted it to feel like, hey, you're coming to hang out with all of us. What we did was have the exchange be, you make all the garlands, you bring the Christmas lights, you bring tables, you make a big bowl of punch. Everyone would, oh, you work at this magazine and send them our flyers so they'll put it in all their websites or so it became like a true community driven experience, which I'm telling you the vibe at these rooftop sales is so powerful. It became a massive success. We've been doing it for six years now, you start to develop these really deep friendships with people that do something similar to what you do. I've met a lot of women in specifically that say, I don't have more artist friends in my life or there's very few people that understand what I do for a living. Having that includes me, for example, if I'm out with my cousins or something, they have no idea what I do or what I'm even talking about. Having this whole group of people that were not my friends from high school, they're not my friends from work, nothing. They're just friends in the creative field at a local level that I can call up and say, "Hey, do you want to have lunch? I've been contacted by this client and I have no idea what to charge," or "Hey this looks kind of sketchy, have you worked with them?" Just people that have been through the same thing that you're going through and having that freedom to bounce around ideas off. If you're a photographer, you're going to need a designer to make your cards. If you are an artist, you need to sell your work somewhere, and maybe some of your friends here will have a shop and maybe that person that needs a shop wants to collaborate with another artist, so this entire cross-pollination starts to happen. Every time that you collaborate with someone, both of you are elevated. Even if you don't live in New York, wherever you are, you will find these people that are going be magic for you. Teaching gives back in beautiful ways, many beautiful ways. These pictures are from October 13th, 2012. It's the very first painting workshop program that I designed and taught. I was living in Mexico City, and I was doing the healthy stuff and the rooftop sale and all this. I got invited by an art gallery that had a space, had an extra space they were opening up for artists to come and teach their craft. He invited me to do this. I just felt really right for me like, I think I could design something interesting for students. I found it that designing these programs was actually number one super cool creative challenge. Number two, I was starting to interact more with people too, because I would go out and teach and talk to my students, and here, face to face what their feedback was, and what they were having trouble with, which actually eventually really helped me out with my sculpture classes, because I think the reason that they get the positive feedback that they do is that, I had so many students in person life that I've seen the reactions face-to-face, and I know when something is troubling or something is hard to figure out and it's like, I'm going to anticipate this, I'll explain online. Those are some of the students that I've had, I've had hundreds of in-person students and just like seeing the look on everyone's face, when they accomplish something that they thought was going to be super difficult, but it ended up that they work, that they did it and it was really good, became really addictive, and I love teaching this but as you can see, some of these courses are different, but I did teach the same class over and over again. I had heard of this new thing called skill share, but I knew I was like, should I do YouTube videos, what should I do? It didn't feel right, I knew I wanted to start teaching so many in-person classes, and that I wanted to share this knowledge and be able to teach more advanced courses and grow as an artist. The popularity of my skill share classes have been one of the most impactful things in my entire business, not only because I've had connection with all these different students, but because it's really given me the financial freedom. Now, thanks to my teaching method, I've been approached to publish this book, and it's a real book with a real contract and a real deal and it's like [inaudible] it's a thing, and it's all because of these series of events of actually going out there and doing it. I really did want to mention how important teaching has been. I'm going to teach this class, there's so many other things that can snowball once you start to get out there and actually interact. The very last story that I'm going to tell you guys is about the power in helping others. My sister, Maggie and I, we both have creative businesses, and anytime we would see each other, we would spend hours talking about how incredible it was, how scary it was, how tough it was to make money, how whenever we would have a success, we would share that with each other, we were having these super juicy conversations and with all these concepts and each of us has our area of expertise, we designed this amazing program, and what it is, it's a five-day retreat, it's only creative women, who are either launching or thinking of launching their own creative brand or they want to be an independent artist and we take care of you so much for that whole week. We teach about stylized icons [inaudible] brand strategy, business models for creatives like how to make money, color psychology, brainstorming, even how to build your etsy shop, if that's what you want. I forgot to say it's loom Mexico, this is what our night time experiences look like, and it also combines this more spiritual side that there is to art because a lot of people don't want to talk about that, but it's when you're an artist, when you're making is such an important part of yourself, that it's really hard to separate those two. This community has been by far the most impactful thing that I've ever done with my art career, and everyone is still in touch, and friends and whenever, hey guys, I just released these new prints, I'm nervous, I don't know what to do, Is anyone going to like them? They can all say, I'll buy one. It's the definition of community a 100 percent, and within us the teachers and the facilitators and then the whole friendships and relationships that come of this. Some of the benefits took collaboration are obviously networking, which means that, hey, would you use to print this? Here's a guy, you can share some useful practical tips and I can introduce you to this art gallery person, so all that networking is really powerful. Making bigger and better things, basically, you said today, being able to put something out into the universe that you weren't going to be able to do alone. Sometimes you need someone else to help you out and really elevate whatever product or idea or even painting that you wanted to make, maybe there is a moreover that you are trying to make, but you just know you can't paint that on your own, pulling resources of experience. For me, this basically means that it's way more powerful and valuable to ask a friend that's been through something about that experience instead of googling it. If you can get like the firsthand, hey, how did it go here? Hey, I'm thinking of filming this class on skillshare, do you think it might work? Yes, I have done that before and here's how it goes. I think that's a really important one, being able to have these people that you can talk to. Cross pollination which I talked about a little before, which means if you collaborate, even with followers. If we collaborate together then your followers will want to follow me and vice versa, that's just one example. Circle of trust which is the biggest one of all, or you can actually share all these questions and worries and hey, I've been going through this and, hey, my social media might change and it might look different, and please put positive comments here because I really need it, and so that's the circle of trust. Having people that you know, that no matter what they have you're back. Or hey, I've just released this book, please put five-star on Amazon. Social media growth, which let's face it, is very very important today. That's just the way that we communicate. Fun collaborations, which we must always remember, it's very important to make stuff that you actually enjoy doing and lifelong friends. These are just a few benefits from collaboration. A few ideas on how to do this is attend local events which is what you guys are doing today. I like that you just walked up and introduced herself and I think that's amazing, and that's what coming to these events, that's what it's for. I can meet this person and then I'll follow you or we'll follow each other and then I'll remember you, it's like super different to have that one time connection and then keep seeing that person pop up, and that's so cool that you're doing, that now or whatever, and not just be a random person that you're just following. Then co-working space or gatherings is a really cool idea as well, and maybe you don't need to have a co-working space, but you can get together with whatever art friends that you do know, and say, hey, my friend Dorry does this, every Wednesday she gets together with all the people that she knows, and they all work from home, but they're like, this Wednesday, you guys can come over to my house and we'll work together, we'll co-work here and then, they'll choose a task that maybe if like Photoshopping or something that you don't have to, it's like more repetitive and you can still chat and share ideas and just talk about what this whole thing is. Then this is a really important one, makes sure that you are in alignment with the message that you want to send out to the world, and really be authentic. The best way to attract the people that you want in your life is to really have your message be strong and figure out who you are, what you're all about, especially if you're trying to build like an art brand or something like that. Then once you've done that, you can reach out and then it'll be easy for people to know who you are. I want to hang out with this person more and want to know more about whatever it is that you offer. Lastly, this is a super simple one and super obvious, but do if it is signing up for workshops, classes, retreats, you'll meet more people and it turns into this hole, it's snowballs like the first story that I told you guys until now, everything has happened in this chain of events, because I think that I really understood quickly the power of what we're talking about, community, collaboration, working with others. Not having that like competitive spirit, but more of like, hey, we're all in this together and we just want to make things and enjoy it. These are the little tips that I wanted to share with you on these three stories that I shared. Thank you very much for coming. 3. Audience Q&A: Hello. Hi, so I dabble in networking events every now and then, and I think that my challenge comes from meeting someone for the first time, and then going through all this stuff to then eventually have that person be like a go-to person, and I guess I wonder for you, what has that process look like and how has that evolved for you organically. Because a lot of my strongest relationships came from repetitive, forced, interaction like school and work. So when it's coming from a place like this, which I'm like "Oh My God! So many potential friends." But then I go home and then I'm like "Oh I've got this thing to do and then I may never see people again." How did you develop those relationships? Well, I mean that's one thing that's really positive about social media, I think, is that if you do connect with someone and you're like "hey" were you about to say something. So if you do connect with someone and you feel like, hey, I feel like we need to continue with this, it's obviously like, "Hey, what's your Instagram account? Because it's awkward to exchange numbers, and that doesn't really happen anymore that much I feel it's like more of "Hey, what's your Instagram account?" I'm not going to write to you and be like, "Hi, do you want to go for a drink?" But like maybe in someone's stories, you're like, "Oh my God, you're at my favorite place, I'm going to be there." You cannot continue through social media, at least that's how I've done it, and also sometimes when you go to the same type of event a few times which it sounds like you do, you might start to see the same people there and it's not like school or work. It's hard, it's not the same. But I feel social media does really play an important part there, and maybe starting to go to more intimate events too, or it's smaller gatherings. For example, if you ever do like a retreat or one of those things, I know it sounds super out there to go to retreat or, but those kind of things where it is like forest in a small amount of time and it's very intimate. Those friendships are like, oh my god, so much impact. My question is because I actually, when you said "Do what you believe," I really have a problem with Instagram. I've spent so many hours, that I want back from Instagram. Yeah. I feel you. Yeah. I thinks we've all done that. My question is basically, can you do it? Can you not be in Instagram? I feel like, for so many years we haven't had to have social media, and now we do and feels like everyone who I listen to podcasts or creative, they're like, "It's great, it's wonderful. You have to use it," and it feels like you're using a dragon that's going to potentially turn on you. Can you do it without Instagram? I think the answer is yes. You just might miss out on a few things, but you can find other ways like for example, the craft fairs, and I mean, there are ways to not be on Instagram and still Network. I think it's really tricky and scary to rely 100 percent of your business on one social media platform. I think that that's terrifying. and if any of you guys have ever gotten like hacked. Have you guys ever had that or you can't get into your account or I had that for a while and I was like, I can't believe how much I'm freaking out over this. It's my entire career. It's crazy. This number of followers is something. What am I going to do if I lose this? No one's going to know what I'm doing, and so I started thinking like there must be some like a backup plan and I think that the real struggle is when you only live through social media. Because if you, if you do go out and you do like come to this and then like go to classes, and then if you sell your art and you go to fairs or whatever it is that you do. I think that that's like this whole thing that we're talking about makes it even more important. Because you definitely can't rely on it, and we don't know what's going to happen with Instagram. It could disappear, it could become horrible and we don't know. Everything changes so much and I totally understand what you mean by not loving it. I think we all struggle with that. There's like this weird love-hate, Everyone is nodding their head. We're the first generation to be doing this weird thing that, and before you go to bed and we wake up and sometimes I feel like gross, myself for looking at it so much, and I'm in this struggle with you like I understand what you mean and I don't have the answer because that's the way. It's really helped me personally, but it's not been the only thing that I've done. So I just wanted to ask I'm going to the workshop on Saturday, but I just wanted to ask, I guess the short answer of how do you, find a balance between painting whatever you want to paint, being authentic, and then what cells and what people are actually going to buy and what people actually like. Because I know you have a very specific style, like I can go into a store and see your card and I know that it's you saw to you. How do you find a balance between making things that you like and being happy, but also the business side of it. Making sure you're selling? I've spent many, many, I've write like lists and I really have defined what my values are, what my boundaries are, what my interests are. There's this great book that my sister loves and it's called "The Artist's Way." In the book, you make a bunch of lists of what you like, and we've done some of that, we've workshop that a little bit, and so like really spending the time to define who you are as a person and what you like, and what you want to paint and what your interests are and and all this stuff, and even like working on your color palette, and everything that you do as a visual person that really defines your voice and also the kind of projects that you collaborate with and don't go up because there's all the no's are huge too, but no one knows about all this stuff that you don't do. So I feel like the first thing is really defining your voice and working on this style, and once you have that, you can see where you fit as an artist. So I don't spend time, okay now I'm going to design for my licensing clients. I don't really do that. I just painted in this style so much and I noticed and I saw that, oh, okay, that kind of art that I make is not going to be able to sell it a gallery. No one is going buy this for this amount of money, but people will buy it on greeting cards. I know that can happen. So I think it's sort of the other way around, really making what feels right to you and building that brand and being super authentic with that, and then figuring out like where you fit in. Yeah. I was wondering, would you consider yourself an outgoing person, and if not, how did you overcome it? Because I think a lot of artistic people being alone all the time and being in the zone, maybe you don't know how to get out there and are afraid of rejection. So obviously anyone one here that's a creator knows how it sucks you in. You just want to be in that zone and you're painting and you're making, and not only do I love that, but I need that time to recharge and I have made the decision to be more like a public person where like my art, my name, what you said about recognizing my art like that's feels so nice to hear that from you, and so that is just my path also that I do accept invitations to talk at universities, or I come do this, or I film myself which can be uncomfortable for some people and I get that or I'll do stories and I have made that decision to be that person I think because I actually realized this a while ago that the kind of art that I make, I've noticed that people are more interested in learning how to make it than wanting to buy it necessarily. So that was a big realization that I had. I was like, "oh my god, the response that I'm getting from people wanting to learn is much bigger than the response of people wanting to buy." It's not the same for every artist, but it's like the small discoveries that you make and you follow. I think that's how you build your entire, I like to call it like an art brand because that's what it is in this new era. It's weird and we're working on it. It's a weird thing. But if you're an introvert, doesn't mean you necessarily have to be super out there, but that you're here today is amazing. You know, even coming in asking and listening and that's enough, and that is a positive of online stuff. We've talked about the weird stuff, but maybe online you feel more comfortable sharing stuff and that's fine too. But I think it's cool that you came. I'm going to give a really honest answer and it's really strange and it felt really uncomfortable for me at one point where I started, my paintings were being so copied and I just saw it over and over again that I was like, "I might as well make a profit off of this." So that was one of the main reasons why I decided to create an online course was because if you're going to look at my painting that I took a picture of and paint the exact same thing. You might as well do it the right way, and I might as well, teach you how we are making it and I can make money off of this like it's almost like a franchise or something like that. So that's my answer. I don't know if it's the best answer, but that's the way that I saw it. For me it's worked out great because as I said, you know, I noticed that people want to learn how to make this, so okay, all teach you how to make this and then I'll continue and make new things and maybe I won't share everything. There are certain stuff that I'm still working out myself and that's fine. But for me that was the wave. It's a tricky topic. I feel that, but that was my feeling. Yeah. If you want to build your skills like I've watched videos from a lot of different people. How do you strike the balance between learning basic skills and following other people's techniques and then trying to build your own style as well without copying their stuff but being inspired? That's a really interesting question too, and so I think that every artists begins imitating. I remember being a little kid and drawing the cartoons I used to watch, that's normal. Or I would, I used to love the beetles and it was a little kid and I would like draw their covers and that's fine, but what I feel like the real issue right now is sometimes people sharing what they made as their own, instead of keeping that to themselves and knowing that it's practice. But there's this urge to share, share, share. I need to post what I just made. That's when I think it gets really tricky because obviously we're living in this weird world where you're working like as you're working it out, you're also expected to share and put it out there. I feel like that's where there should be some boundary. I don't know what needs to be like an etiquette class on what sharing should be like and finding your own style but I feel like the coolest thing you can do is actually one day the spark will come and be like, " Ah I was meditating and I thought of this new thing and now I'm going to paint it and this is what I'm going to share". Not all the practice rounds or stuff that I that I did because it's cool. Or maybe if you do, maybe you're like, " I took this class and this is what I made there." Because I feel like that's the real weird part. Also there's just, it's so much any person that is pursuing an art career. The number 1 thing that I can say is be yourself like do your own thing if I remember, my grandma was from Denver and I was visiting her and I painted a and it was this whole painting inspired and with my grandma. Then a few months later I printed it and made a print and nobody knew what the story behind it was except me. Then someone stole the image and use it as a flier for, and that's different. That's like actually stealing witches. Which is really bad and it just felt so horrible and I was like, "Ah why. " Then it's this whole thing where your art has to come from a place that's really personal to you. Copying a motif or something that another person is making to build a portfolio I don't think is going to ever work because they've already seen that before. But there is definitely, the possibilities are endless and the combinations of what you can make are endless too and there's a lot work in figuring that out though. I will say that like really knowing what your style is and what you're interested in. Yeah, so we were talking before the session started then I'm trying to break out as an artist and actually try to make some money. I started working with water colors this year and sometimes it feels like I'm late to the game. There's so much content and skill shared on YouTube i feel like there's so many artists already creating such beautiful work. How would I stand out? I wouldn't even matter. I feel that it's really really tough. I understand what you're going through. I feel like right now there is a lot of repetitive stuff out there and I see it like with lettering. I see it a lot like, " Oh my God, I've seen that calligraphy styles so many times and it doesn't make it not beautiful. But it's just like, I don't know who made that because it all pretty much looks looks the same. " The question is hard because I feel like were probably like on the verge of this new thing that's going to happen or maybe also like maybe going way back to the beginning of this talk may be in your local community. You're the only one that does that. You, and you can really build on that strength to like knowing that within the people that you know, you are the person that does that best. Just like focusing on that for now and then seeing how that grows and maybe that's where you will flourish more and then eventually more things will happen and can start to grow from there. But, I do understand how it can be freaky to see a bit like," Oh, I guess an everything has already been made." But I don't think that's necessarily true. I just feel that information is more available than ever. It's just we're living in a weird time that way, but yeah, focus locally. Questions. Do you have a book recommendation to help you in this process? [inaudible] Well, not necessarily about business. I know that Lisa Congdon has a really good book. Have you guys read that one? Yeah. What was the cult again? I remember the name. Yeah. She has a good one. But there's another book, it's not about business, but Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Everyone's like," yeah." It's just so good for every single creative person to read it and, or listen to it, because she narrates it. It's only like five hours. There's podcasts that are about, I mean, come on, listen to that book, it's so good. It also talks about how you can be like your own patron in life and in creativity, so like there's different ways to make a living with your art that is not necessarily having it be a business. It goes into that and I find that to be really interesting. [inaudible] Are incorporated. Is that the Lisa Condon? [inaudible] I don't have an agent, but I do have an art business coach. I don't know why I didn't mention this, but finding the proper guidance is really powerful. [inaudible] Yeah, we can talk more about that too, because you have to find the right. It's almost like finding the right therapist or like you really have to find the person that can really help you on what your journey is. Some people are a little bit more spiritual and yeah, you can, you know, a few coaches. Yeah. It would be good. Yeah. Oh, okay. Yeah. I do have a person that I go to. I did like a strategy session with her where I was in a process of my art career where I was like," Oh, I need to grow but I'm not sure where." She's like super top and it was an investment and I was really scared because I didn't have that much money back then. It was still a tipping point. I went for it and it changed everything. Now I consult with her when like for example when I got my book contract, I called her and I was like," I need to book a session with you and we need to go through this contract together because I'm really scared." About 45 pages. Don't understand. It is that's something that I didn't put here, but I feel it's really important to find proper guidance.