The Creative Tribe: A powerful tool with a double-edge

I’ve recently taken a step back from my creative tribe. Still a card-carrying member (and officer in a few groups), but, after noticing unsavory patterns, I’ve had to reevaluate my expectations and dial down participation.

Thanks to social media, the stigma of a lonely creative has become less forceful. There are massive hobby groups, channels on YouTube full of tutorials for skills from beginner to professional, critique groups/clubs for bringing up your skill level, and whole platforms for advertising your wares for other artists to see.

This is a huge gift! In seconds, you can get feedback on your current project. You can share a skill with someone thousands of miles away overnight. You can connect instantly with another artist across the world for a collaborative work.

Understand there are pitfalls to being so (constantly) connected with other creatives.

It’s wonderful and terrible, and I hope that comes clear with the following quick lists.

Reasons to be with other artists like you:

  1. Social connection and shared sympathy. Sometimes you just need someone who GETS IT, you know?
  2. Sharing resources. Instruction, inspiration, heroes, tools, etc. If you find something awesome, shoot it out and share!
  3. Reversing the negative thought engine. This could be its own post, and probably will be in the near future. Simply put, a tribe can be your cheer squad.
  4. Outside critique. If you’re not sure what you’ve got is good, or if it’s doing what it needs to do, asking others’ opinions can help.

Reasons NOT to be with other artists like you:

  1. Competition. Sometimes “shared sympathy” isn’t on the menu. Tough love can cross the line to bullying in any group.
  2. Shared resources. You’ll be getting the same direction everyone else is, going the same places for help. Creative people are known to crave direction and validation, so we’re a lucrative and often gullible market. (see, When a Book Bites You)
  3. Confirmation bias. People like to hear perspectives that agree with their own. It could be that person that gave you a bad review had a point, so hiding with “yes men” won’t help you get better and face up to issues.
  4. Inside critique. Getting input from your target audience is often better than getting it from other professionals… unless you’re writing for other professionals. So balance out your critique sources – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and good luck getting a convention of cosmetologists all to agree on how to do a model’s makeup. (Building a Quality Control Team)


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