It’s easy for me to become a workaholic and never leave the house because there is always something to work on. As much as I’d like to think I’m self sufficient and capable of doing everything by myself, it’s hard to make it on my own. I need community in my life whether it’s professional collaboration or industry friendships. It’s essential to have people in your life who “get it” and no one can or will create that community for you.
Only you know what you need.
The necessity of community has been especially present in my own life after going freelance 3 months ago. I work from a coworking space, but even though I’m surrounded by other creative people, it doesn’t mean that we’re connected. I have to take responsibility for my own life and create those relationships, sharing what I need with others and helping them in return. Most people long for connection but are scared to put themselves out there. “They’ll discover I don’t know what I’m doing.” “They’ll think I’m stupid.” “I’m not good enough at what I do to hang out with them.” None of this matters. Someone has to take the first step in a relationship and it might as well be you.
I recently went to Colorado and was able to meet up with two illustrators I’ve admired for a few years, Luke Flowers and Mitch Bolton. I only knew them from social media, but meeting in person was so much better! We shared our stories of how we got to where we were, professional and internal struggles, things we wanted to do, and we drew a fun picture together before we parted ways.
Meeting in person has value even if it’s only once. While I can’t be part of Luke & Mitch’s local community since I’m in another state, I can continue to keep up with them online.
There is no excuse to not have a community of peers online. The internet gives you access to just about everyone and it’s easier than ever to connect through social media and portfolio sites. Find artists you love. Make professional connections online. Be friends. You don’t have to ever meet, but it’s nice if you can. I found online community to be a life saver when I lived in small-town Texas and couldn’t find it locally.
Over my past year and a half living in Nashville, I haven’t found many consistent creative meet-ups so I decided to start my own. I was longing to meet other people who liked illustration but I wasn’t finding them. In one month, I will be hosting “Drawing and Donuts.” This will be a casual, social time for people to come hang out to draw, learn from a few local professionals, and connect with each other over donuts from a local business. Since creating the event and spreading the word, people who love drawing have started coming out of the woodwork! It’s amazing to see what happens when you take the first step and give people a reason to gather. It’s not easy though! There’s a lot of planning and work involved, not to mention the jerk voice in my head telling me no one will show up. I do know this- it will be worth the effort.
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When you can’t find something you’re looking for, create it.
When you’re not getting what you need, tell someone.
When you’re feeling alone, find other people.
No one can create community for you- take initiative and create it.
- Create your own community because no one will create it for you.
- Take the first step. You don’t need a reason or prior connection to meet up with people you admire or host an event. Just do it.
- Creating community isn’t easy or comfortable, but it’s worth it.
Illustration is for Everyone
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