"for the love of collaboration" interview with Liz Lamoreux & Kelly Barton

CR K and L
CR K and L

I just love these two women!  I had the pleasure of meeting them both at Squam a few years back and have participated in one of Liz's retreats where she reads poetry like no other.  Kelly has the sassyness that I just adore and appreciate.  They are both midwestern gals like myself and are such creative, inspiring women ~ I'm so blessed to call them my friends.  Enjoy ~ 

How did you start collaborating?

K: We were two friends in need of more connection I think, and just began building from there. Before long, we were working on some amazing, big stuff.

L: I totally agree that having a strong desire for connection is where it began. And something about our energies and personalities just really mix so well. I think that there is this magic created because we allow space for each person to just show up and be herself.

What is it that you collaborate on?

K: Everything! Home, parenting and mostly business. We have worked on jewelry collaborations, and we collaborate on Liz's retreats. And now our new baby...Chickadee Road.

L: Since our first collaboration when Kelly helped me with my first retreat three years ago, I can see that we continually collaborate on making safe spaces for people to have fun, dig deep, and be themselves. Whether this means we are collaborating on a temporary tattoo design that we hope people will wear to invite more trust into their lives or we are brainstorming a project one of us wants to do for our own individual business or we are sharing stories at a retreat, we are creating that safe space for ourselves and others. And through this sacred container comes so much goodness.

How long have you been working together?

K: Oh my, I have to think back. i think we really began after I worked the Unearth Retreat. We have been friends for over 5 years, but after Ellie [Liz'a daughter] was born, I would say that is when we really began to brainstorm, scheme and plan. The last two years have truly been a collaboration.

L: After Ellie was born, Kelly was someone who gave me a lot of space to share all the ideas that were piling up in my head during the newborn phase where the ideas couldn't really become a reality just yet. From these conversations came this understanding of how well we just might work together on a true collaboration or two or three.

How do you navigate the miles between you?

K: Cell phones, Skype, email, Google apps and several flights a year! Since I began teaching with Liz at her retreats, we have been able to add a few extra days to some of my trips, so that I can stay longer and we can regroup a bit before i head home. I love the Pacific Northwest. I love croissants and lattes. It works!

L: I love Skype! We can jump right on and show one another what we are working on or just check in face to face to say, "How's it going over there?"

Have you collaborated in the past with others?  Or was this the first time? How/when did you know this partnership/collaboration was going to work?

K: I have collaborated with a few friends but more on art work. My friend Danielle Donaldson and I have done some fun art prompts with one another and then asked others to join in on our blogs. I love that. I have a local friend who is another amazing artist, Nina Cunningham. We have started sharing paintings to work on and will soon have a collaborative show here in town soon.

Liz and I have really been able to build a comfortable way of doing things. We both know that we do things in very different ways. Our personalities are very different. She is a new mom; I have been a mom for what seems like forever. We learn new things constantly, we regroup when we need to, and each of us brings something to the table. Like everything else, we make room for growing pains, laugh a lot and breathe deep when we need to.

L: What I am learning is that the keys to a successful collaboration are communication and love. Partners have to be able to express how they are feeling, what their needs are, and then be just as receptive in hearing those same needs and feelings from the other person. The fact that there is such an awesome, real friendship and respect between us helps our communication.

Do you have any words of wisdom for others that want to collaborate but haven’t found the right person?

K: Just allow it to happen. Take chances when you feel it is right, or that in the big picture could be a good thing. I think most importantly for us, we are friends. We lean on each other and I am sure that both of us being Indiana girls helps too.

L: If you haven't worked together before, one idea is to try small collaborations first just so you can see one another's strengths and communication styles and so on. And give one another space to think about how things are going and if you want to continue working on other collaborations. I don't think you have to have a history of friendship with someone you collaborate with, but I am learning this: I want to work with people I not only respect but who I would invite into my home even on the days it is a bit (or more than a bit) messy. This kind of openness and honestly, vulnerability, leads to work done on a deeper level and that is where I want to spend my time whether I am working or not.

Liz Lamoreux hosts retreats and teaches writing and creative self-care workshops in person and online. She is also the author of Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry, and Mixed Media and The Gift of This Moment home retreat kit. Connect with her and share your stories at www.lizlamoreux.com.

Kelly Barton is a mixed media artist and graphic designer who brings sass to her home base of middle Indiana. Most days you will find her in the studio with music playing and colors flying. She is inspired by the inner-workings of a girl's nutty mind and believes that growing up girl is enough inspiration for any artist. Kelly's creations can bring out the joyful rebel in any person or space. She features her artwork in her eclectic mixed media art pieces, funky notecards, spunky jewelry baubles, and fun tee-shirts. Kelly created Kelly Barton Art + Design to remind people that we're all connected, and because she believes we all need a bit of happy. Visit Kelly online at her website.