A Community of Creativity
Making a living from art is easier said than done, and that was especially the case just a few years back. With no local structure in place for creatives to pool their resources together, many were left to just “figure it out” on their own.
“When I first started to do my side hustle, I tried to reach out to people here in Lakeland, and at the time when I was reaching out for advice, or tips, or help, everyone was kind of like, close to chest with the people they use or how they do things,” Josh shared.
An open person by nature, Josh wasn’t a fan of such a system. He attended a Creative Works Conference in Memphis where he saw just how nurturing of an environment there could be for creatives supporting other creatives. Here, industry-leading professionals from companies like Facebook and Google would host talks and mingle with conference attendees, answering whatever questions they may have with a genuineness that Josh had only dreamed of.
With such an idea of what Lakeland could be, Josh took matters into his own hands. Together with Becky Yohe of Art Centric Studios and Sunny Lynne of iNK Screen Printing, Lakeland Creative Makers was founded. The group draws between 50 and 100 people to each of its monthly meetings, held on the first Monday of each month. Each meeting typically consists of a TED-style talk, hosted by creatives from an assortment of backgrounds.
“We have just every type of creative from fashion, food, talking, film, photography, graphic design,” Josh explained. “We didn’t just want to be visual, we wanted to be every type of creative.”
Along with the group dialogue comes something deeper. Members don’t just share their tips for success – they share their entire story, covering how they got from point A to point B and all the trials and tribulations they faced on the way.
“We have our hills and our valleys and we want to share that, but we also want to end it with positive encouragement,” Josh shared.
Lakeland Creative Makers continues to thrive to this day, having celebrated its 2-year anniversary just a few months back. Their next meeting is scheduled to have the mayor as their guest, an ode to the creativity that Lakeland’s been fostering for years.