Get in the Community (Advice from Nick Campbell)

This post is for people like me, who aren't living in a major metropolitan area, for those of us who live in small towns and out in the woods. 

I was recently watching a talk from Nick Campbell , a guy behind a lot of great motion-graphics work and tools over at his website Greyscale Gorilla. One of the things that really stood out to me, which I know is going to sound obvious here, is that creative professionals need to get in the creative community. This is not optional, this is necessary.

This isn't the first time I've heard this advice, but short of selling my townhouse and moving into an LA suburb or Manhattan flat I can't afford, what's a man to do? The light bulb went on for me recently about what this should look like for me personally. Because I live in a small town, and I don't have a lot of casual opportunities to interact with colleagues who would push me to take my work to the next level, I need to do this super novel thing, it's called "social media".  I think it's going to be big.

Now, I'm not generally a fan of "social media"- with Facebook's privacy concerns and the overwhelming landslide of random drivel from people you only kinda know posting what they ate for breakfast, and LinkedIn trying to get access to your email account so they can spam your contacts with invites to "connect", A.K.A. sign up for their services, the whole thing hasn't appealed to me. Sure I've had a twitter account for a while now, but it functions as a news-feed filter for topics of interest rather than a place for having conversations with peers and getting reviews/critiques of my work. All this is to say that because of the negatives, I've overlooked the opportunity of the positive side: to connect with like-minded people and develop interaction with them. It wasn't until recently that I signed up for the Behance network, and just created an About.Me page.

I'm betting that there are a lot of people out there who are like me- with talents and skills that they'd like to improve on, who need critical feedback. Nick talks about never working somewhere where you're the best person in the room, because you won't grow. I spent the two-and-a-half years prior to starting  Union | Nine in a non-creative role at a company that resells technology equipment and software to educational customers- so basically 3d-printers and laser cutters for the kids. While I've learned a lot of great stuff about what's needed for running a business, which is really valuable for Union | Nine, this was not going to help me move my creative skills forward. Time to get in a different proverbial room with other people in it who can actually comment on my work.

What Nick says in that talk I'm taking to heart: I need to get out from under a rock and post my stuff where people can see it.  Review and critique isn't something that I automatically get in my environment, so I have to seek it out. Some people get feedback as easily as people in LA get stuck on the 405, but that's not my reality here as I look out my window at farm fields and suburban development in southwest VA.

Feel free to comment on my work- and feel free to ask me for feedback on yours. Let's become better creative professionals in the much larger "room" the internet provides.