This November, It’s Nice That commissioned a creative dream team to push the capabilities of Dropbox Paper, working with four global creatives from diverse disciplines to produce one ambitious project. The first in the series introduces our team captain, Max Siedentopf, and his idea for the dream team to co-create. Dropbox Paper is a collaborative workspace that eliminates distractions that get in the way of creativity. Because you can work with all types of content — from video, to sound to code — in Paper, you and your collaborators can easily edit and discuss all aspects of your project in one centralised place.
In the simplest sense of the idea, a dream team brings together individuals with certain strengths and different capabilities that, once combined, create something incomparable. Creativity, with its myriad of mediums, is an ideal opportunity to explore what this special something could be, as a practice where collaboration is often key. The concept of a creative dream team is one It’s Nice That has explored in partnership with Dropbox Paper, a platform that encourages collaborative working in one shared digital space, improving communication no matter the media, format or time zone.
To form a creative dream team, first we needed a captain with a curatorial mindset and a bank of commissioning ideas to set the brief. Max Siedentopf became a clear choice as someone who builds upon a bonkers idea with collaboration. Examples of his avant-garde approach include photographing a family with watermelon heads, building fountains out of urinals, or curating an issue of Ordinary, his fine art photography magazine which creates a warped narrative around one very average object. His tendency to build upon something typical but make it astounding also led to the initial concept for his dream team brief: he wanted them to interpret something simple and a little nostalgic, a rhyme.
“I thought it would be nice because no one really rhymes nowadays, and it’s actually been part of the art world and creativity forever,” Max tells It’s Nice That. “It’s a simple structure and I like finding those because I think the simpler it is, the better it is to understand. If you come up with a really complex thing that’s great, but no one gets it, it can be a little boring.” As a result Max decided to select a straightforward combination of rhyming words for the project’s basis: snake, lake, awake, cake, drake, rake and shake.
To bind each word together visually, Max and It’s Nice That curated a team of creatives from completely different areas of the industry. One would interpret the rhymes and share their response to Dropbox Paper for the next person to work on in their respective discipline – a kind of relay race of creative working, with Max chipping in to edit or comment on ideas. “That’s just how creativity works,” says Max. “You combine things and something new comes out.” Although sitting in an editor’s position, Max’s point of view on the project has always been to let the creatives interpret his concept as they see fit. “I believe it’s nicer to leave it really open,” he says. “I don’t want to force them to do something because then I know what the result will be. If I just let it go then it’s more surprising, and you get results you otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
In collaborating through a digital space, there were no boundaries to who, or where, the project’s candidates could be. Max has been able to push the brief to the maximum, collaborating with creatives from all over the world. Consequently, despite their consistent dialogue about the project, only two of the collaborators have actually met in person. “That’s the beauty of the internet, it doesn’t matter where you are, you can still make work and that’s quite crazy,” says Max. “It’s the work that connects us all and our similar interests.”
Kickstarting the project was Argentinian photographer JP Bonino, a regular collaborator of Max’s who “I thought of immediately,” he says. “I really like how he has executed my ideas in the past, the mood, the colours, all the little details. He’s just really fun to work with. He’s a really humble, friendly guy.” Similarly, JP shows Max an equal amount of creative appreciation: “One day he sent me a message on Instagram asking for my email, I felt like a groupie being chosen by Mick Jagger.”
To continue and expand the rhyming aspect of the project, the next stage in the thread was for the photographs to be translated into poems by Leipzig-based illustrator and poet, Anna Haifisch. Despite Max’s fondness of rhyming words, poetry is a new creative avenue for him, but encourages the project “to find a nice tone of voice,” he says. “That’s what is quite nice about this…I really like it, finding that balance.” Once JP’s photographs were added to the doc, Anna spent a few days mulling over ideas to translate them into poems, with Max offering feedback so they referred back to his initial concept, such as including contemporary references.
Once these two stages were complete, the interpretations of the rhyming words were all given to London-based web developer Rifke Sadleir, whose creative input was to develop an interactive website combining the work created so far. Rifke, Max explains, possibly had “the most complex job of all, as web is the most difficult of the three”. Her input therefore included much more of a dialogue with the collaborators, watching their work develop over the project and pulling out ideas as they were working to create a cohesive home for it all.
Over a number of weeks, Max’s dream team has innovated, researched, photographed, written, and coded a project completely digitally, all within Dropbox Paper. “It’s a little universe that we’re creating which can live on,” he says. Throughout the coming weeks It’s Nice That will be showing an insight to the conversations and creative work that has resulted from Max’s rhyme.