Listening back on the episode, I realize my mindset on networking was in need of some reflection. I kept insisting that networking in the creative industry is somehow different from networking in the corporate world. Having listened back to the episode, I can not clearly discern what makes the two different. We can still take interest and be specific about what we do and our strengths even in corporate networking where things seem pre-determined. But something I keep pointing out in this podcast is that even in corporate, things are changing, especially in East Africa. So in the spirit of surfing that wave of change, let’s rethink how we network. I’ve always thought networks should evolve naturally and not artificially - I think meaningful connections involve naturalness and honesty, not a give and take approach. And in that naturalness comes an ease of expressing what we do and being honestly curious about what the other person does. I think this allows us to create a network we actually care about and can sustain.
The artists’ food
The fuel that keeps an artist going is exploration. When this stops, the artist dies, in a way. Gervaz’s thoughts on this fact are profound and I think point us to consider what sets effective artists apart. He expresses that he embraces impermanence and allows his style and path to evolve naturally. He isn’t married to an idea of what his art or career should look like, rather is open to exploring paths that feel natural and enjoyable to him. I happen to think this naturalness is the wellspring of good art, which we often think of as “unexpected” - where creations aren’t forced and they aren’t part of an expected routine.
When Gervaz jumped into the fashion competition without a clear direction, it was something that piqued his interest and he didn’t mind putting in the effort towards it. He, in fact, enjoyed it. The outcome was a discovery of a creative side of him and a connection to other creatives.
I also think that this embracing of newness and potential paths allows the artist to keep themselves fresh and enriches their art by adding a dimension of natural unpredictability.
Thinking of running a creative business? Just do it (I promise I'm not looking for a copyright strike)
I imagine a lot of artists and creatives simply want to focus on their craft which is often separate from their business. Thinking back on the conversation with Ngaira, running his business was just another dimension of his creative expression. He enjoyed thinking up new ways to sell his art and creating more interesting avenues of putting his art out there. He enjoys this and it comes naturally to him and it’s part of his fuel.
For others, however, this may not be the case. Running a business may be something of a drag - taxes? Not yay. But it is unavoidable when you want to make a living from your art. So what to do? Well, embrace the unpleasantness and the learning process. You’ll learn what your business needs, where you expend your efforts and how your business is evolving. Insights like these are extremely valuable when you eventually need to scale up and outsource - you’ll have clarity around what you need and what kinds of persons you need to bring on board to do an effective job. You’ll know exactly what your business needs.
Want to start? Meet yourself where you are
Starting doesn’t have to be in the far off future but can be in the very moment you are in. Want to write? Pick up a pen and write. Want to become a photographer? Begin gathering inspiration on what kind of photography resonates with you - begin to visualize your identity. You get the gist - you can start at any point and the key is starting small. However, as Gervaz points out, once you cross a point of irreversability, you would have made a significant move towards what you want to do. From there on, it’ll be up to you and your discipline - something you can work on.
Gervaz’s resource recommendation:
“You’ve got to want it, and decide to do it”