TIP #48: The Key to Success with Collaborative Art Projects

TIP #48 The Key to Success with Collaborative Art Projects

Collaborative art projects are popular across all grade levels and serve a variety of purposes. But their key to success is the same no matter what the project’s purpose or grade level is. 

The key to success with collaborative art projects is to begin with the end in mind

This advice applies whether your project is a team-building exercise, a fundraiser, or a school legacy project. Planning from the end result backward ensures the right steps are followed to get you successfully from start to finish.

Some simple collaborative projects yield short-term displays that are later disassembled and returned to each student. Others are purchased by parents to enjoy in their home or office, and some are permanent installations. 

Every project and situation is unique, but in all cases, each student’s part in it should be easily identified. Here are some things to know about each of these types of collaborative art projects.

The 3 types of collaborative art projects

Team-building exercises

A team-building art project may focus on solving a fictional problem, participating in a challenge, or simply decorating a space. But regardless of its stated purpose, it should also yield a sense of camaraderie, problem-solving, and cooperation.

Most collaborative team-building projects result in artwork that’s displayed for a short time only. These projects are usually more “process-oriented” and designed less with a finished result in mind. 

Due to their temporary nature, durability and longevity are not considerations. But if possible, students will enjoy having the portion they created returned to them afterward.

Some examples of collaborative art projects used for team building are Post-It-Note Portraits and Paper Chain of Kindness.

Art fundraisers

When done well, parents love collaborative art fundraisers, which can provide a healthy boost to school funding. These projects should be long-lasting and suitable for display in a home or office.

Size is an important feature to consider for this type of project. Decide on the maximum overall size and work backward to arrive at the size of each student’s individual piece. 

To make the math work on this, you may have more pieces to create than you have students. If you end up with extra spots to fill, consider asking the principal, classroom teacher, or PTA member to participate. 

Due to its keepsake nature, it’s essential that each child’s contribution is identifiable. This could be with students’ names incorporated into their design or with a separate legend, on the back if possible.  

When planning for a school auction, first estimate the cost to create the project. Then figure out how much the finished artwork would need to sell for in order to be profitable. Consider your students’ families and the level of participation and support they may (or may not) be able to offer. And don’t forget the grandparents!

Some examples of collaborative art fundraisers are Masterpiece MosaicsCreative Art QuiltsCeramic Tile Trays, and Collages on Canvas.

School legacy projects

School legacy projects are often created by the outgoing class of students and are expected to last for many years. Again, it’s important that each student’s work can be identified, either on the artwork itself or on a legend nearby.

Some examples of collaborative school legacy projects are Chalked Ceiling Tiles and Ceramic Tile Murals.

3 Things to keep in mind

  1. Collaborative art projects usually require more control and planning than individual art projects do. For example, you may want to give students a limited palette so the colors all work well together. Or you might assign a specific subject or theme to ensure a cohesive finished product.

2. Permanent projects that will live outside must be created with weatherproof materials. And you’ll need permission in advance from your admin and maintenance department before installing anything permanent on your school campus.

3. Bigger projects like these often require volunteer help for best results. Sometimes this means having parents work alongside you as you guide students through the completion of their artwork. Other times it means having people help you assemble individual parts afterward, as in sewing quilts or grouting tile.

Begin with the end in mind

Begin your planning process by first deciding which type of collaborative art project you’d like to do. From there, consider the degree of permanence needed, finished size, materials, if you’ll be needing volunteers, etc. 

Collaborative art projects are a great way to get students working together toward a common goal. By beginning with the end in mind and planning carefully, you’ll be well on your way toward a successful project.

an inspiring quote:

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results.”  ~ Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

The ability to be a team player is an important skill for all students to develop. As they have opportunities to cultivate and practice this, it becomes an asset they can draw on whenever needed. 

a question worth considering:

What kind of collaborative art project could you try with your students this year?