One of the pillars of Cornell Creatives is our supportive community. We’ve clapped for creator showcases, raptly read our newest blogs, and liked, commented, and shared projects and events on social media.
As our community expanded, it became increasingly feasible to encourage creative growth even more directly. This semester, we launched Creator Studio, a six-week program designed to help participants launch a creative project under mentorship.
We interviewed members of the Music and Video tracks to gain some insight into their projects. Keep reading to be inspired!
🎵 Bringing Heritage Home: Jenny Park on Combining Musical Styles
As much of the publicity for Creator Studio was online, it reached an audience of students that included those off-campus. Jenny Park (‘22) was at home in California on a gap year when she found out about the program through Instagram.
Intrigued, she applied to its Music track. “During my gap year, I was reflecting about my time at Cornell, and wanted to try music,” she said. “I wanted to surround myself with people who had similar interests.” Her project was to create a repertoire of Asian music and perform it classically — her way of bringing together Eastern and Western music styles, celebrating her heritage alongside her passion for opera.
The project was ambitious for six weeks, but as it began to appear unfeasible, Jenny said her team lead and mentor remained supportive, generous, and understanding. “They gave helpful feedback, encouraged me, and checked in on me during and even after the program. They’ve also exposed me to different avenues in the music industry, like producing.”
Jenny emphasized her appreciation of the opportunity to connect with people from her track and others and see what they were working on. Even if their mediums were different, she found she could bond with the other participants through art and shared difficulties. Upon her return to Cornell this fall, she will be declaring a Music major, and looks forward to immersing herself in a variety of new musical experiences as well as finding inspiration from the musicians around her.
🎧 Making Beats with Chase Miller: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Finding Community
Chase Miller (’23) had been making beats for a while, but it wasn’t until the Creator Studio program that he met a community of musicians at Cornell who not only improved his own technical skills, but inspired him with their passion for music — be it indie, pop, hip-hop, or classical.
Over six weeks, Chase developed a playlist of beats that all followed a similar style. Though he felt like he didn’t complete a full project, Chase spoke to the support he got from the Creator Studio Music Mentor, Yahya Abdul-Basser, and Track Lead, Rishabh Sabu.
“Yahya is a rapper and singer himself, and he pointed me to so many resources he used when he was first learning to mix vocals. Rishabh did a whole session about breaking down a song he made with one of his friends and showed all the different effects and ways he tweaked the audio.”
Beyond developing his technical skills, Chase also learned a lot about creative challenges when it comes to collaborating with others, something other mentors and mentees also struggled with. After creating a new beat this semester, he sent it around to a few producers, and often got polar opposite reactions.
“It just made me realize that if two people had such different reactions, that making music is not about making something that everybody's gonna like, because that's just not going to happen. It's about making what I really like, and then finding those people who like the same things.”
📹 A Bug’s Life — And Why You Should Care: A Close-Up on Insects with Nathan Laurenz
“I’ve been meaning to jumpstart videos for my YouTube channel… that people would watch,” laughed Nathan Laurenz (‘22) over Zoom.
The Entomology major decided to participate in Creator Studio with the successful takeoff of his channel as his ultimate goal. The content? Macro shots of insects on and around the Cornell campus accompanied by his narration on these insects’ ecological niches. Through his experience in the program, Nathan wanted to learn how to reach and educate his audience in a more engaging manner.
“It was really fun,” he said about being part of the video track. “It was great to have a supportive network, and our process was the same even though the content was different.”
There was no other participant out on campus filming insects in particular, but from his mentor and lead, Nathan gleaned new skills and tips useful for video editing and audience growth. “Along with being exposed to resources I didn’t know before, I received useful feedback, and the set deadlines were good for motivation.” For the final showcase, Nathan showed a clip of his work, and was encouraged to continue his educational YouTube endeavors.
Katie Go, Co-Founder of Cornell Creatives, served as the Video Mentor for Creator Studio. She spoke to her appreciation of the variety of interests that the video track had, which included anything from Nathan’s project on insect migrations to designing apparel for dolls and educating students about how to study abroad.
“My role as a mentor was so much more about creating a space that brought out everyone’s unique talents, rather than being an ‘expert’ in the field with the answers to everything,” Katie explained. “We felt more like a community of creators instead of a strict mentor-mentee relationship, and it encouraged everyone to share their ideas.”
Indeed, Katie ended up collaborating with member Caleb Harden. They flew a drone on campus together to collect beautiful aerial footage of Cornell — each creative learned a lot about cinematography and editing from the other.
Too often, we push away our creative passions because we simply “don’t have the time.” During the semester we’re flooded with academics and social life; over the summer we have internships and jobs.
Through our interviews with Creator Studio members, you can see that often the biggest obstacle to launching the creative project you’ve always dreamed of is yourself. With Creator Studio, we saw the power of mindset and community, and the way both allowed students to dedicate time into what they love.
As this was Creator Studio’s debut semester, we wanted to know how to reshape and improve the program for future runs. One piece of critical feedback we received was that Creator Studio should focus a little more on bonding between participants of different tracks, and perhaps have people of different tracks meet and collaborate.
It was also suggested that we should increase the number of mentors to broaden the scope of what they could offer specific advice on, as our applicants’ interests were often quite unique.
Keep an eye out for next semester’s Creator Studio Program, and in the meantime, why not launch your own creative project? As Katie articulated during her interview, “you have the power to actualize your ideas in this very moment — if only you take the first step.”