It was nice last week to be able to go back out into the ‘real world’ (ie. outside the four walls of our house) and try some new mocktails at the Sahara, but it also feels great to get back into the Advice to Young Creatives Series today.
I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of showing up for and supporting peers as a creative community member.
As students we’re taught to compete with our peers through grades, extracurricular projects, and awards. We’re told that there’s only room for a few at the top so we need to excel and surpass those around us.
This mentality doesn’t get you very far in any kind of collaborative creative field past high school or college.
As you grow in your creative practice, you’ll start to realize that the folks you thought you were competing with are often going to become your collaborators, co-workers, and partners.
The scarcity mentality can be devastating for an artistic community’s morale. So how do you cultivate a thriving, encouraging and open relationship with your peers?
Here are a few ways I’ve found useful over the years:
- Show up for each other’s events. Gallery openings, theatrical productions, concerts, symposiums, workshops, literary readings–SHOW UP.
- If you’re not able to attend in person, support your peers by sharing their work or event online and on social media.
- Follow your peers work online and celebrate their wins on social media. Did someone in your artistic community just receive a grant or award? Tag them in an online story congratulating them. When others in your community rise, you rise too.
- Don’t ask your peers for discounts. If they offer, feel free to accept. But don’t reach out to someone who you have a cordial social acquaintance with asking them to cut you a deal. If you’re a fellow creative you know how hard it can be to scrape together a living while freelancing, so have the same respect for your peers. The only caveat is if you offer a comparable barter, like “I’ll take headshots for you in exchange for one of your prints” if they run around the same cost. Your peer may decline, but it’s a much better way of reaching out than flat out asking them to discount to you.
- Suggest your peers for opportunities. This is one of the most important ways you can foster trust and camaraderie in your creative community. If you turn down an opportunity because it doesn’t fit it in your schedule, suggest one of your peers for it. If you see an open call that fits one of your peers artistic endeavours, send it to them!
It can be hard to break out of the competitive mindset but I hope as you grow in your professional experiences that you’re able to find a supportive community to grow within alongside other like minded generous creatives.