As artists and creatives, it often feels that we are on an island alone, with our desires, dreams and products. Unless your creative practice happens to be one that requires some kind of collaboration with someone else, most of us are solitary in nature as we move across the page, canvas, or other medium to become inspired and productive.
Because of the “culture” and environment of our work often leads us to be alone, connecting with other creatives is something we need to seek and plan for as part of our support system.
One way to get the support we seek, especially from others like us is through some sort of Creative Community. The way they appear and how they work may be varied, but they have one thing in common, an option to provide social, emotional and peer support for our creative work.
I have been a part of a few creative communities….online and in person since I started my regular art practice over ten years ago. They have included art associations, online listserves, artist run galleries and interaction with smaller groups of artist peers from time to time. I have been facilitating The Artist’s Way groups, made up of creatives, using the book by Julia Cameron of the same title. I have found that these groups have not only assisted me in maintaining my creative recovery but also helped to create a bond to peers with similar interests that I may not have ever met otherwise.
What are the advantages of participating in a creative community? Here are some of my thoughts based on my involvement with various groups over the years:
1. Creative communities can provide an opportunity to bounce off new ideas or receive critiques on work. Many of the art associations and groups that I have been a member of provide opportunities for art shares where we receive feedback on what we are working on. These critiques provided by peers in these groups often have guidelines on the kind of comments that is acceptable so it does not end up demeaning someone’s work, but provide healthy feedback to enhance it.
2. Creative communities can provide wonderful opportunities to learn how showcase your creative work. Whether it is an open mic night hosted by the poetry group, art exhibition opportunities, or a musical jam session, these groups often provide members an opportunity to share your creativity with others. In some cases, they may provide you with an educational opportunity as well regarding how to perform in front of a live audience, frame your artwork properly, or give a presentation about your work.
3. Creative communities can provide an opportunity to network with others in your creative industry. Some groups or organizations host professional development activities where industry leaders may attend or present, providing you with an opportunity to meet these people in a more intimate setting. You may also have the option of volunteering to help plan these events where you can interact with a variety of industry heavy hitters as well.
4. Creative communities provide a social outlet with people who “get” you. Ever find yourself at a party or social gathering where people seem question what you actually do as an artist, musician, or maker? Or find yourself among people whose idea of small talk is about something that is so uninteresting, you find yourself drifting off to look at that painting on the other side of the room. As a member of a creative community, you have peers that you can engage in conversations from what type of writing software they use to who edited their last book.
There are so many other advantages to being a member of a writing group, artist association, creativity support group, etc. that makes it worthwhile to connect. Some have fees to join others is open to anyone with an interest. Check out places where other creatives hang out to find out what groups are available in your community or do a few google searches. Meetup.com is one site that has a group for almost every creative practice or interest that meet on a regular basis. Or start your own group and recruit others who have similar interests!
Are you a member of a creativity group or creative community? What has been the advantages of being a member of that group and how has it positively impacted your creative practice?