- On October 10, 2015
Are You Struggling to Create in Isolation?
How Group Environments Influence Productivity
You may not be alone. Which is to say that you are alone… but you’re not alone in being alone. That made sense, right?
Over the course of a typical week, we talk to a lot of artists. We hear stories everyday about the difficulty of keeping motivated, continuing to grow and remaining highly productive post-art school.
SO WHY IS THIS?
Our team decided to dive in and do a little research on the topic. It turns out, this productivity dip is a concern for a lot of industries (not just art) and may potentially be tied to group dynamics rather than a post-college shift in behavior or work ethic.
This is not a new idea:
A not-so-recent (1920) Harvard study tracked the productivity of people engaged in creative tasks within group environments vs. individual environments.
Groups were tested working as teams as well as working individually (but in close proximity to others) and compared against the control. Special attention was paid to how creativity and productivity were affected by the various scenarios.
The findings, incredibly, are still relevant today:
- Most study subjects benefited from the unexpected interactions, outside influences and competitive motivation of a group environment during the early phases of ideation and creation.
- Benefits continued during the main thrust of “doing the work” and participants tended to be more open to external influences and course correction.
- For some (not all) of the subjects, a return to isolation for the finishing stages of the task was valuable, especially during tight deadlines where external influences might actually distract from the subject’s focus.
What does this mean for us as artists?
Producing artwork in a social setting can motivate us to work more effectively – especially when we are planning and being inspired. Even when we’re working on our own projects instead of in collaboration, the presence of a co-working group has radical influence on our own productivity. Being around other artists can compel us to experiment more, challenge ourselves creatively, and experience our artwork from a collective rather than personal level.
Additionally, having a creative support system means we benefit from each other’s skills and can utilize each other as resources. Other artists are used to thinking critically about aesthetics and understand what it’s like to struggle with the realities of making art. Working in a group setting can also expand your audience reach and increase your chances to create work collaboratively.
It also means there will come a time in every project where it makes sense to minimize distraction- close the door, put on your headphones, or otherwise shut out the World.
So how do you find a creative community?
It all starts with one connection. Find one person you would like to work with, invite them out to coffee or engage them in a conversation. Then connect with one other person and bring those two people together. You’ve started your community right there.
There are also ways to connect with existing creative communities: go to venues and events where you might meet like minded individuals and be open to the possibility of natural conversations and connections. Remember that part of making a friend is being a friend: ask questions and offer up your own opinions.
Are you local to the Denver Metro area? Try Meetups like The Creative Incubator to get out there and make some new creative connections!