Creative Tribe

Creative "Tribes": OUTLOUD Artists

"Finding Common Ground" (acrylic on canvas) is included in the "Fresh OUTLOUD!" exhibit at Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center.

"Finding Common Ground" (acrylic on canvas) is included in the "Fresh OUTLOUD!" exhibit at Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center.

I'm a member of a few creative tribes—groups of artists, designers and creative entrepreneurs who challenge and support one another. Some of my tribes are local and others are groups of creatives from around the globe. Whether we meet in person or online, I find the community and connection to be vital to my artistic and professional growth as well as my personal well-being. Creative tribes inspire!!

OUTLOUD Artists is a community that 'adopted me' several years ago. The common thread we share is the time we spent studying abstract painting with our teacher, Helen Corning, who passed away in 2011 at age 90. Helen was a celebrated teacher and artist. She referred to her elegant paintings as "Haiku"—short concise poems. I can still hear Helen's voice today as I'm painting…"make it bigger" and "paint like a child and then come in like the mother to clean it up" area couple of the expressions she used as she critiqued our work. She was a crusty character with a heart of gold who wore her signature uniform—white blouse with collar turned up—with plenty of attitude. I find it remarkable that she inspired each student to find their own voice and distinctive style.

I've also learned a lot from my OUTLOUD tribe over the years. Our group includes members with diverse backgrounds in art as visual and performing artists, educators, designers, art therapists and an architect. It has been a great asset to tap into each member's unique perspective during critiques, challenge one another and share opportunities and resources. For nearly a decade, OUTLOUD Artists have exhibited their work together. This month our work is featured in the beautiful gallery spaces at The Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center in Frederick, Maryland through April 26.

Three Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your Creative Tribe:

  • Stay open and don't make assumptions—embrace the different perspectives in your group. Everyone has strengths and gifts to offer, so don't underestimate anyone and listen carefully for what might be that fresh take you need or timely words of wisdom. The members of your tribe should challenge the status quo and inspire you to try something new.
  • Be an active member—participate and share. What you get out of a group is directly proportional to what you give. Your generosity will help set the tone and define the group's culture. There will always be members who will give less, so expect that and don't waste your energy obsessing on a deadbeat member.
  • Recognize when the party is over—groups don't always last forever. If your tribe has reached a point where members are no longer challenging one another or providing the encouragement and accountability that is vital for growth, the group is no longer serving its purpose as a creative tribe. If it's time to move on, celebrate the group's accomplishments, be grateful for how the group has helped you grow and wish everyone well on their creative journey.

Do you have a creative tribe? I'd love to hear how they inspire you.