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Is it better to be a competitive or collaborative designer?

When it comes to getting the best work out of people, it appears that creative directors adopt two different approaches: competitive and collaborative. But does a competitive mindset impede the creative process, or is collaboration holding individuals back from making amazing designs? To find out we asked a bunch of industry experts and invited people to contribute their thoughts via Twitter.

Inspire, don't threaten

“I would go for collaboration all the way," says Carrie Stay, partner at Clockwork Moggy. "I love working with like-minded people and collaborating – it keeps me on my toes and encourages me not to let the side down and make a good impression. I also love supporting others, and I’ve often given advice to other designers or companies. I guess the trick is not to feel threatened by other designers, but be inspired by them. You should believe that what you do is good, but bear in mind that there’s always room for improvement. This gives you the right frame of mind for having confidence in your work, and means that you are open-minded and willing to try new things.”

Harness a competitive drive

“Competitive design can push your limits, depending on your mindset," explains Mark Leary, an illustrator, designer and photographer at "It’s easy to get down on yourself and believe that others are doing better work, or getting the clients you want; but being competitive can drive you to learn new skills and encourage you to be brave when you are networking and approaching clients. Collaborative design can also educate you – again, if you approach it with both the right frame of mind and the right partner for the project. Otherwise, there is little to no point. Overall, both things can lead to better design, so why choose one over the other? I think deciding what’s needed for a brief comes down to the individual and the project."

Nobody is successful alone

“No actor has ever won an award for a great performance in a bad play," says Bnji Holroyd, Creative Director at SB. "Collaboration is key and all great design is based on partnership. Steve Jobs had an idea, then built a team to realise his vision. Our business at SB has been built on partnerships, collaboration and our belief that the proper development of strategy and creative solutions cannot be achieved without a collective approach.”

This topic generated a lot of comments when we opened it up to our followers on Twitter. Here's what they had to say.

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This article was originally published in Computer Arts magazine issue 259. Buy it here.

Rosie Hilder

Rosie Hilder is the deputy editor of Creative Bloq. Before joining the CB team in 2018, she worked on a range of print titles, including Time Out Buenos Aires, Computer Arts, 3D World, Paint & Draw and Mac|Life. Her interests lie in branding and illustration, tech and sexism, and plenty more in-between.