[Create 101] ⚡ How to Find Creative Mentorship, Part I
I don’t know about you, but the first thing that comes to mind when I think of mentorship is that intimidating “reaching out to professionals” thing that we’re all supposed to be doing.
LinkedIn, CUelinks, Cornell Alumni events. Did that bring you into a slight state of panic? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In this article, we’ll delve into a much simpler, yet often overlooked form of mentorship: creative mentorship from our peers.
Graphic by Renee, CC Designer
When I began brainstorming for this article, it was difficult to figure out how exactly to go about this - Do I slide into someone’s DMs? Do I email them? Do I ask to meet over Zoom?
You might think those all sound slightly awkward, maybe too far out of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re perfectly fine just admiring your fellow peers from a distance.
Well, I challenged myself to go for it. We all follow those creative photographers, writers, illustrators, or YouTubers on Instagram. Why not reach out if you’re inspired by them, or if you want to learn more about them?
I did just that - and let me tell you that even as an introvert, it really wasn’t that hard.
I decided the best way to go about meeting people would be through some form of a “coffee chat,” which in a professional setting is just an informal meeting to get to know someone. Here, I thought of it as more of a casual, but still productive, way to meet people.
Below is a series of steps I took before contacting two creative peers in the Cornell Creatives community: Samantha Lau and Alicia Wang.
I’ll share the things I found to actually work, and what didn’t. Think of it as a social experiment - one that surprisingly went really well.
🧠 Step 1: Mindset
Establishing the right mindset is an often-missed step, but one that should always be considered.
First of all, be open-minded to people who work in a variety of different mediums. Sometimes, it’s the people we least expect who end up inspiring us most. A musician could inspire an illustrator. A UX designer could inspire a musician. There are endless possibilities, and learning the creative process of people who aren’t in your field could actually help you!
Second, be okay with things not always working out! You might reach out to someone, and they might not be interested in meeting. Or if they are, maybe your meeting with them is awkward. What’s important is that you put yourself out there.
Third, know that the mentor-mentee relationship could take on different forms with different people. Maybe you’ll just have one coffee chat. Maybe you’ll message every once in a while. Maybe you’ll meet up every few months. Think of it more as a low-pressure opportunity to just meet fellow creatives.
📋 Step 2: Establish your Goals
It’s important to establish your goals so that both parties can have a productive interaction. Take a moment to ask yourself: “Why am I reaching out to this specific person? What do I want to learn for them? What do I want them to learn about me?”
Here are the goals I set for myself, before even reaching out to potential mentors:
Learn how I can better balance my creative passion with my academic life.
Learn about how to improve my skill level as an artist.
Learn more about how to put myself out there, how to be more comfortable with sharing my art.
Learn about someone’s creative journey: How did they get to where they are today? What have they learned, and what advice can they pass on to me?
📩 Step 3: Find People you Want to Talk to - and Send Them a Message!
This part can feel awkward - but thankfully, Cornell Creatives is truly the kind of platform that makes finding creative mentors a lot easier. The “Community” page of our website is meant to showcase fellow creative students - so don’t be afraid to look through it and actually reach out to people. Where might you do that? On our Slack!
Disregarding this extreme CC promo, building community is honestly one of the primary purposes of our platform. Click on someone’s profile, and learn more about them!
For my “social experiment,” I was looking for artists, and someone in a creative medium that I don’t know as much about.
Despite the slight embarrassment of showcasing the messages I sent to potential mentors, I will do it for the sake of providing an example of what you could do:
Essentially, the message should consist of:
Something along the lines of “I really like your work”
I would love to set up a coffee chat to meet and learn more about you
I challenge you to try it out. Send someone a message to randomly introduce yourself and state your primary goals. You never know what could happen from there!
📖 Step 4: Think about the Best Questions to Ask
This step isn’t entirely necessary, but it could be helpful to have some questions written down to make the meeting more productive.
Here’s what I came up with:
Can you tell me about your creative journey before Cornell, and how it led you to where you are today?
How have you gone about prioritizing your creative journey, and how do you balance it with your academic life?
How have you put yourself out there?
How have you gone about developing your skills as a ________?
What do you wish you could have known about your creative journey when you first came to Cornell? What do you wish you had done differently?
👏 Step 5: Your Turn :)
With quarantine and isolation, we have missed out on the opportunity to meet new people the way we once could.
I challenge you to find someone to reach out to within the next week, and send them a quick Slack or Instagram message. Meeting someone over Zoom is in many ways less intimidating than meeting them in person.
Instead of having to get all ready and actually walk somewhere (who does that anymore?), you both just sit in your PJs, each holding your own cup of coffee, maybe sitting on your bed, and you still get the unique chance to talk to someone new.
Ainav is a sophomore majoring in Government in Arts & Sciences. She’s a writer for CC, but also loves anything art related, from painting to digital illustration!
Did this blog post supercharge your creativity? ⚡
We hope so. And we can’t wait to see what magic you make next. ✨
Take this email as the reason you’ve been searching for to dive into your next creative endeavor, and know that you’ve got a creative community backing you at every step of the way. 🙌