Whether you’re working in a creative field or you’re just passionate about something creative, sometimes it can feel a little bit isolating. When I started blogging I was the only blogger I knew and when I told people about it, I tended to feel a little uncomfortable.
It wasn’t that I was embarrassed or ashamed, I just knew that people who don’t get it won’t get it. Not only was I the only blogger I knew, but I was one of the only creatives (for lack of a better word) I knew in general. None of my friends were photographers or artists, and I knew only a few people who would consider themselves musicians.
I felt like it wasn’t possible to meet like-minded people because I was from a corn town in the middle of the Midwest. There was a little baby music scene, but the tight-knitedness of the show goers initially intimidated me.
For a long time, I quietly creatived in private, making friends with other bloggers who lived thousands of miles away through Facebook communities and Instagram.
There were a few blogging events I made the 3 hour trip to Chicago to take part in, but still I felt like the odd man out where I was from.
Now? All of my closest friends are creatives. Whether that’s because I convinced some of my fave ladies to start blogs or because I’ve broadened my horizons and learned how to seek them out for myself.
Even if you feel like you live in the middle of nowhere, I can guarantee that there is a creative community that already exists or is begging to be formed wherever you’re from, you just have to go at it with the right strategies.
Realize you are surrounded by creatives
Once I realized this – I was golden. Some people are just still closeted about their creative side. In communities that don’t have a creative scene, people are often afraid of standing out so they keep their creative passions to themselves.
Me? I kept my blog a secret for five months and even then it took me around a year before I would proudly talk about it. Now I find it hard to shut up about it.
When it comes to finding or creating a creative community start with your friends. You wouldn’t believe how many of my friends confided in me that they’d always wanted to start a blog but were intimidated. Half a dozen of them have started blogs since, and a few of them are still active to this day.
Talk to people and ask them about their passions, what they like to do. You might find out what someone you’ve known for years is a talented photographer or a basement band drum player. The first step in creating a creative community is encouraging the creative people in your life to be proud of what makes them different.
Stalk people on social media
I’ve met 90% of my creative friends on the internet. I live in an area called the “Quad Cities” so I’ll search Quad Cities hashtags like #TagTheQC. That pulls up small businesses, beautiful landscapes, and then some random pictures taken by people in the area, too. From there let the stalking commence.
More often than not I pull up accounts of someone’s great aunt Tilda filled with blurry pictures of her dog and the occasional sunset, but other times I hit the jackpot and find someone who lives in my community and is doing something awesome.
From there you have to navigate the tango that is befriending someone online without coming off as a stalker/creep. For me, this usually means following them and liking their latest picture and then interacting with their account whenever they post. From there they’ll usually follow me back and that’s when I’ll send them a message.
Something like, “Hey! Awesome to see someone from the QC doing big things. I love ________________.” Usually they’ll respond and then I’ll go in for the kill and say, “Want to meet for coffee?” And then if you’re lucky they’ll say yes.
Talk to strangers
When I was living in New York whenever I saw someone doing something cool like painting in the park or walking around with a DSLR I’d strike up conversation. Half of the time the DSLR folks were just tourists looking for the Flat Iron, but the other half of the time they would have a cool story to tell.
I haven’t done much of that since being home given that I’ve been hiding away all winter, but this spring I’ll be on the hunt for people doing cool things.
Ask for introductions
Chances are your creative friends have creative friends. From there all it takes is meeting them to start building an actual community. Ask your friends to introduce you to the people that they know who are doing cool things and strike up a friendship yourself.
From there your network will start to grow and you’ll keep meeting these incredible people that you had no clue were living in your community.
Join the Rising Tide Society
The Rising Tide Society is a really cool network that brings people in creative fields together and they have local branches all over. There was a local branch in New York that had members who were anything from wedding dress designers to high fashion photographers to textile designers. The crowd in the Quad Cities is mostly photographers, but despite that I don’t feel out of place or unwelcome.
Through the Rising Tide Society I made some of my first friends in New York and now I’ve been given some pretty cool opportunities locally with the people I’ve met.
I am an introvert and no matter how excited I am to meet a new person I am always sort of dreading it, too. Social interactions always make me feel like I’m the only one in the situation without a script, but despite that, I always end up being glad that I put on my brave pants and put myself out there.
The more often you put yourself out there to meet up with people, the less scary it will feel. As I’m writing this I just got back from meeting with two new people and as I was driving to the cafe I realized how calm I felt compared to how I would have felt this time last year.