The artists for Mural Arts Philadelphia have created more than 3,600 city murals since 1984 to bring vibrancy, color, and culture to the walls of the city. These Philly murals are just one example of how artists can bring visual beauty, cultural expression, and open dialogue to any community. We tend to think of artists helping communities and often forget what a community can do for an artist.
As a solitary profession, some may think that working with others distracts an artist from their work or brings unneeded competition. In reality, a strong and supportive community brings newfound motivation, inspiring conversation, and opportunities for unexpected collaboration.
We all know that artists spread empowerment to communities, but artists themselves can also be empowered by their peers. If you have ever worked in a shared makerspace, such as NextFab, you may have been intrigued by some artist’s work practices and tried to emulate them. Maybe they used a machine you had not considered or a technique you had not been taught. Maybe you even noticed yourself trying something more challenging because you were surrounded by passionate people who inspired you to work harder. While some may think a shared community for artists might instill an environment of competition, our members feel connected, inspired, and validated. Shirely Garret explains how important the community at NextFab was in encouraging her to try new things. She said:
“NextFab was amazing. From the moment we entered the facility, we were awed by the resources for bringing ideas to life. It is a community of generous individuals who support the creative process…. Each member labored over and focused on their own creation, while at the same time offering support… NextFab is not a place — it is a community.” — Shirely Garret
In reality, artists probably spend 95% of their waking hours thinking about their own ideas, so they really don’t have the mental space to think about someone else’s. An artist community is about connection, not competition. The deep conversations in these environments help you explore different avenues to express creativity. These simple conversations can prevent echo chambers, where you reinforce your existing views on what to create and how to create it. At NextFab, we believe that diversity in opinion is always good, even for something as personal as art. We have the people and the tools to help you dive deeper into your creative core and produce something extraordinary. For our member, Machele Nettles, the community conversations at NextFab have “been invaluable.” She goes on to say,
“The community is second to none and there are so many tools available to learn and use. I say I’m self-taught but in actuality being a member at NF is like having a private teacher whenever you need one.” — Machele Nettles.
As well as motivation and conversation, the final piece that an artistic community can bring is collaboration. Collaborative art takes many forms and is not limited to the world of music. Artistic communities naturally experience informal collaboration every day through simple conversations and insightful recommendations. A collaborative approach to art through community can push innovation to its limits. Jeremiah Jordan, a NextFab member, describes the NextFab workspace as “a creative, collaborative community” in which an artist can grow. Just because your artwork will not “feat.” Ed Sheeran or Beyonce, it does not mean that you cannot find a collaborative network with whom you push artistic boundaries. You can seek other makers with varying skill sets to bring a new flavor to your products.
How do I find my community?
Artists need communities as much as communities need artists. NextFab is a space defined by its positive people, creative minds, state-of-the-art facilities, and willingness to push the limits of innovation. As our member Kate Leibrand put it, “the possibilities are endless.” Reach out today to find your community of artists and start your NextFab journey.