Ideas

Making meaningful things with people you love.

Tristan
     
January 2022

When I was a kid I spent most of my time playing imaginary games.

I’d spend, my mother claims, 5–6 hours a day pretending to be a knight, or a wizard, or The Doctor from Doctor Who.

I spent a lot of time doing that by myself, for sure. But I spent even more time doing it with a very close-knit group of best friends.

We were a real swashbuckling crew: Mako, my brother, and the kid-from-down-the-street that I haven’t spoken to in more than 10 years. We’d spend every free moment building and inhabiting these imaginary worlds.

These guys were my first team. The first time I got to experience the true elation of a great creative partnership.

My creative partnerships.

Meeting people who complete me creatively is one of life’s greatest treasures. So, I want to tell you about 4 of the most life-changing creative partnerships I’ve ever had.

SPOILER: If you’re reading this, I’m going to ask you to do something at the end of the article. Reach out to the people you love who you’ve made meaningful things with. Tell them how much you care about them, and how impressed you are by their brilliance.

Ok, now onto the thing.

Tony Wang.

Tony showed up to the first meeting I ever held when I became an editor at the school paper. He was attentive. Quiet, even. I stopped him and his friend outside the room after the meeting, asked him what he was into, and told him that this would be a great chance to develop his skills and make a difference.

I was sure he would come back.

He did not…at least for a while.

About a year later he did show up again. I still haven’t asked what possessed him to come back after a year of straight ghosting me.

He applied for a staff position at the paper. The Editor in Chief and Creative Director didn’t want to hire him at first — but I insisted. My logic? We don’t have to pay staff at the student paper, so why not take him?

That was September 2018. Three years later he’s one of my best friends, my most frequent creative collaborator, and one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met.

It took us about 8–9 months of working together before we exchanged more than 5 sentences in a row. I thought he was an enigma. A quiet, mysterious, person who didn’t jive well with my big personality.

I learned how truly wrong I saw him do live standup comedy. I kept relearning how wrong I was — through asking him to join My Media, asking him to be the Creative Director, and ultimately seeing him flourish as a leader in the last year.

I learned about an entirely different Tony Wang:

He’s extroverted, hilarious, and deeply interesting. He’s the single most curious person that I have ever met. He is the definition of grit, hard work, and commitment.

He catches every little mistake that I don’t. He takes big, random, ideas — and renders them intelligible for audiences. He has a commitment to craft and perfection like nobody else.

That’s Tony. One of my greatest creative partners.

Wyeth Robertson.

I didn’t know Wyeth Robertson very well in June of 2016. I knew he had released a rap album, I knew who he was friends with, and I had shot one of his films in the 10th grade.

So when we were sitting beside each other watching our high-school’s annual music showcase and he said: “You and I are gonna be up there together next year bro”, I shrugged and gave him a real “Ok bro, whatever you say” kind of response.

He was right though.

4 months later, we started to jam after school with a couple of friends. 4 years later we’ve put out 3 records together with the Neighbourhood Watch.

I can’t tell if Wyeth had a master plan all along, or if he’s just privy to the ebs and flows of divine intervention.

He’s the kind of person who makes you feel like at least one of those things is true at all times.

Wyeth is the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the smartest. He reminds me constantly what actually matters about life: people not outcomes. He is my favourite mental sparring partner. He inspires me to live by a genuine moral compass.

Thank you for the music that we’ve made together. There is nothing like the spark of creative energy that we get in that jam room. Let’s keep it alive for as long as humanly possible — it’s the kind of joy + love that life is (probably) all about.

Ella Roy.

I met Ella Roy in a political science conference. She was doodling in her notebooks instead of, y’know, taking notes.

I thought that kind of flagrant disregard for academic authority was pretty cool in an Arthur Fonzarelli-an type way — so I decided to introduce myself.

We walked back from the political science class a couple of times talking until she mentioned that she liked graphic design. I told her about My Media, which we had just launched a couple weeks back.

Without having seen anything she’d done, I asked her to be part of a campaign.

This will go down in my life as the single best instance of absolutely blind decision-making I have ever been a part of.

She was brilliant. She rose our level of capability to a whole other level. I was blown away and excited.

In the next year we worked together closely, constantly.

I consistently list her as one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. She is probably the person who is best at challenging me in my life (I react defensively usually, because I genuinely care about her opinion).

I feel lucky to work together every day. To many more.

Ethan Surman.

The story of how I met this guy is pretty simple. I walked upstairs, having just been interrupted by my grandma.

I held him in my arms for 5 minutes — and then asked if I could go back to watching “Blue’s Clues” (1996–2006).

I have never disappeared into something like songwriting with Ethan. He’s my brother, my best friend, and my forever creative partner.

There’s not much more to say about this one. I love this man, and the things we make together.

SO!

That was a couple hours spent writing about the people I love making things with the most in the world.

It was soul-nourishing I can tell you that.

I’m a little burnt out from it to be fair — it was a write-it-in-one-go kind of thing. Gonna go eat some squash soup I made last night (for Mako, of all people!).

Tell your creative partners how much you appreciate them. It will, hopefully, be soul-nourishing.