How to carve your own creative path by putting yourself and your community first.

My name is Callum. I have a BA in Illustration and an MA in Communication Design from Norwich University of the Arts. I run a small creative studio called Site Collective which takes on adhoc design, illustration and the expanded arts commissions as well as running events that provide a vital hub for local creatives to network, sell work and collaborate on live briefs. I also work as a freelance copywriter and PR agent.

After struggling through a dysfunctional school system which didn’t support my learning style, I learnt to be fiercely independent and proactive in my approach towards my professional and creative life. When approaching the end of my BA I noticed that there was no support network available for recent graduates and decided to step up to create a platform for everyone to stay in touch and begin to build a community around. It started as a singular art exhibition and pop up shop showing illustration, design and art which me and my close friend and talented animator and illustrator Dominic Lovegrove collaborated on. We worked so well together and managed to create a firm interest from our peers and wider local community by selling over £1,000 worth of small artworks that we decided Site Collective was here to stay.

cred.: @_____ronja

Since that day we’ve branched out our network hosting four shows with different local creatives as well as expanding into various social events which provide a more casual environment for our creative community to engage with. The business has grown naturally allowing us to take on printmaker and illustrator Julia Triay Sarasa and we now sit at the centre of a large circle of hugely talented local creatives and industry professionals. Part of our growth can be attributed to our niche filling a gap in what is a relatively quiet city, but the other part can be firmly attributed to our open and approachable attitude. This attitude underpins our ethos, that if we can help others then we will in turn get help from others.

cred.:@_____ronja

There is a lot to be said for collaboration beyond just sharing resources and audiences. It can teach you whole new ways of working and understanding different creative skill sets. You can then build yourself a support network of specialist talents centring around yourself. In our experience this sense of community will always go further than you can imagine.

Obviously, it is important to remain strict and at times ruthless when it comes to functionality of the business but we very much like to consider ourselves firmly rooted in our community. This is what drives our practice and is both our passion and profit. We have more recently set up commissions for local creatives and in turn been set up on commissions. Norwich is a great place for us as it hosts people who very much agree with our grass roots and community focused ideas.

cred.: @_____ronja

We recently received funding to help us grow and put on what will be our biggest and most industry focused event yet. We aim to provide a platform for young people to grow their creative careers in a similar way to us by putting their communities first. We will be hosting an event featuring market stalls, live crits, panel Q&As and pep talks. This will aim to be accessible and support a wide cohort of young people local to Norwich wanting to start a creative career or just pursue a passion. We have dreams to grow bigger into a fully-fledged design studio with printmaking facilities and a physical shop eventually. The future is different but a lot easier when we work together to understand the complex maze that is the creative industry.

www.sitecollective.co.uk

@sitecollective

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