A little while ago I wrote a post about how being a maker is a solution to fixing the homogeneity in the visuals arts and design. Being a maker is at the heart of fixing this problem but to create greater impact you can't be a maker in a bubble.
Boundaries crumble with the force of many, and being a part of a group of makers with a similar mission or vision is the way to see real change. So as you create, look to connect with others who can challenge your perspective; who can help evolve your ideas; link you with other movers and shakers; and encourage you when you hit a roadblock. You must have a creative clique/crew/circle/tribe (you choose the term).
We're not talking high school though.
Do not be a part of something that is exclusionary or belittling to others. That's actually super counter-productive to being a force, yet I see it happening a lot — especially in the visual arts and especially in the blogosphere. Having a group of people you consistently go to to share your ideas, have coffee with to get advice, or go on inspiration trips with does not mean you can't be open or nice to others. It simply means that your crew represents your go-to people who will always have your best interest at heart.
If you look at some of the most dynamic artistic movements in recent history you will find that the "innovators" were birthed from a creative clique. Hip hop is a true testament to this, look at Native Tongues, Wu-Tang, and even the folks who were connected to Kid 'n Play (Salt 'n Pepa and Martin Lawrence, and the whole House Party crew). Andy Warhol's The Warhol Factory had a constant stream of artists, thinkers, and musicians hanging out in the studio space (Grace Jones, Bob Dylan, and Jean-Michel Basquiat). Take a look at Gertrude Stein (love her) and the regular salons she held in Paris with attendees like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Ernest Hemingway. Imagine those conversations, imagine the influence they had on each other's work, and how they pulled one another up. And this was all before these people became the people we know today.
So how do you create a clique? It should totally be natural. You probably already have one. Pay attention to the folks you call on for creative advice. Think about the people you connect with regularly: the artists you have tea with or the studios you visit regularly to be inspired. These might be your people. Wanna meet new folks? Go out. Visit cultural institutions, discipline-related organization events, or lectures to meet new like-minded folk.
Your tribe can be a mix of friends, mentors, and muses. These are the people that are going to help push your vision forward and/or pull you up as they grow, while you do the same for them (it absolutely has to be a two-way street).
Do not create your work in a bubble. Be a part of a force. Be a finger in a fist with the momentum to move upwards and onwards, and to break down walls.
Tell me about your creative clique.