Back this week is Samantha Lopez on why self-sufficiency in the workspace is as much a solo act as it is as having a community to back you up. In this episode, we’re going to get down to the nit and grit of how to find your people while moving up in the art industry.
Why do I need a creative community?
Many of us recognize the need to connect, hang out, come over for pizza because our brains need to buffer in between all the busy work our lives have.
But as a creative, you also need to take into account that your work is already representing you in the community whether you actively participate in it or not. You’re missing out on possible work opportunities, friendships, and a general sounding-board to bounce ideas off of.
We need community for personal upkeep, but we also need it to keep our work in check and ultimately be inspired by those around us.
How Samantha connects with people
Samantha's Instagram is her primary resource for reaching out to fellow artists, specifically on the platform’s “stories” feature. Whether it’s leaving a note of positive reinforcement or general chatting, she creates that opening by saying something funny or by asking a question.
Another option is to switch out using the same old emojis as the go-to comment, and start a discussion under someone’s post, leave feedback, or even if you just want to cheer them on, you never know where it might lead.
She touches on the fact that there are real people behind these accounts and that online friendship can quickly become an IRL friendship if given half the chance. Just keep in mind that when approaching people, no matter the environment should be done with respect. Having your DM’s bombarded is no one’s cup of tea.
Tips on networking for introverts
Networking has left all of us with a bad taste in our mouth at some point. When notoriety and the social comparison comes into play, it's normal to not want to stick around and feel "less successful".
Know what you’re looking to get out of these events and the people you’re looking to meet; just because this time wasn’t on par with your expectations, doesn’t mean it’s your cue to go home with your tail between your legs.
One way Samantha handles this is by going with a friend. Being a creative and showing up by yourself can be challenging when put into social mode, but having a buddy to fall back on could be the perfect wingman/woman in seeing the event through.
Though, she admits that you shouldn’t cling too tightly to this person as it may stop you from doing what you came to do, network!
An extra tip would be to hold yourself accountable and volunteer at an event. Now that you’re running on someone else’s schedule, you’ll have to show up.
Samantha's ideal networking event
Samantha first familiarized herself with the online platform Dribbble, and their community, before attending one of their networking events. If you’re on the fence about pinpointing an event to visit, and don’t have anyone to link arms with, perhaps hone in on what aspects of the creative industry pique your interests and start from there. Or if the scale of an event seems daunting, tone it down and opt for a smaller meetup.
How to build your own community
A lot of us don’t live in an industry-saturated area, and thus we turn to good-old google to give us the answers. How and where can I rub shoulders with fellow creatives?
We discussed joining potential courses, mastermind groups like the one we have for Women of Illustration on Patreon so we can feel supported and connect with the communities you want to reach.
From the comfort of your bed, there’s an array of Facebook groups, Discord chats and Youtube live streams to dedicate Sunday morning coffee to.
Or perhaps you could turn to your own social media following and pitch the idea of having your meetup? There are resources and pockets of communities all around us; you just need to know what you want.
Collaborating with other artists
Whether you’re an in-house or freelance creative, getting to collab and work with someone in that capacity can be just as therapeutic in rejuvenating your passion projects as it is in perhaps making a new friend?
Samantha’s outlook on collabs is that it’s a whole lot of talk and no action. Maybe this here underlines the perfect step we could all be taking, but might be missing?
Samantha is looking for someone to collab with!
A collaboration could act as the catalyst to gaining you a new best friend, mentor, or job. Having said this, Samantha will be taking inquiries to collaborate! She’s looking for an illustrator mentee, someone local to the Los Angeles area or remote to swap stories, lessons, and drawing tips.
Do you feel called upon? You can drop her a line in her DM's on Instagram if you want to learn from Samantha.
This article was written by one of our amazing volunteers