While the year has brought with it masses of uncertainty with the likes of Brexit and Donald Trump, it is has also brought a wealth of positivity. Ending the year on a positive note, this article is all about celebrating the progress of Black creatives especially here in the UK.
As the sun sets on 2017, this post was birthed from the discussions I had with some incredible talent about their projects and collaborations throughout the course of the year.
As we (black creatives) understand our culture and by collaborating together will ensure we show different aspects to the cultural lifestyle we live. Portraying our stories in a particular way as we are connected to them.
There have been a number of projects this year involving black British creatives, a number of which are telling our stories from our perspectives for what feels like the very first time. It has been a long time coming.
Some of the amazing projects I have seen have seen included Black Girl Festival, Wake Me Up at Waterloo and many more.
I have two special guests here to reflect on 2017 with me; Tarik & Andre.
(If you want to find out more about what they do their socials will be linked below)
Why is it important for Black creatives to collobarate?
T: It is important for black British creatives to collaborate with each other because we can fuel and inspire each other and validate each other’s work, ideas and passions. Speaking from personal experience, a lot of black artists, especially in the earlier stages of the career, feel like we are illegitimate or do not know if what we are making is of real artistic value, i.e. we are insecure. Working with others allows us to enjoy and affirm someone else’s creative output as well as share our own work and get feedback at various stages of the process.
AF: I don’t think it’s important, it’s necessary. As we (black creatives) understand our culture and by collaborating together will ensure we show different aspects to the cultural lifestyle we live. Portraying our stories in a particular way as we are connected to them.
How easy is it to collaborate with those in other industries, and what do you do think would make the process more accessible?
T: As a poet, I feel privileged whenever I get to collaborate with artists in other industries. I have had good opportunities to do so because a lot of collaboration in my city (Birmingham) is facilitated by organisations such as Beatfreeks, Punch Records and Apples and Snakes.
Until the age of 25, there are regular opportunities provided to poets to collaborate across different industries. After that age, opportunities are harder to come by but it is up to you and connections you have already made to make collaborations happen.
Maybe it could be more accessible if there were a single online place where artists who are willing to collaborate could post there availability and how much they are willing to work for so that those seeking to collaborate could make initial contact and see what comes of it.
AF: Depending on the collaboration it could be easy and sometimes it can be difficult as with anything there are different personalities and experiences. But I truly believe once we all work together for a specific vision then the collaboration will always be rewarding.
And with most things it is, at first, is not always accessible but can change once you begin to build your experience, relationships, and knowledge. As a result other industry people will recognize this work ethic and will want to collaborate with you.
What has been your favourite project to be a part of and why?
T: This year I was commissioned to produce my first collection of poetry which has now been printed and launched at mac Birmingham, with many copies now in circulation. This was my favourite project this year because I got to work closely with Punch Records and collaborate with Tanny Tizzle who created the illustrations for my collection. It was so good to see her working process and to have her consider my poems and respond to them with her visual art. The project was started in January and culminated in October with the launch event and has been great for me personally to receive so much support throughout.
AF: I have a range off projects I’ve worked on I really enjoyed and therefore I don’t have a specific project as my favourite. But my overall reasons for why certain projects are my most memorable, is always because off the vibe I got from working with a group of creatives on set/stage and building a real genuine friendship, almost like a small family who now look out for you and tell you about future things.
It’s creatives I know I will work with again and again because of their focus and energy they bring.
What can Black British creatives do to ensure an even bigger impact in 2018?
AF: I guess the obvious – To “Make more Choices” because in practice making choices will bring more Chances. Which will bring more choices because off these chances. (I hope that doesn’t confuse anyone this 2018). But that’s all we need to do as individuals and as groups. Make a choice, for example more positive content and with this/these “choice(s)” you decide to execute on will result to creating more chances for someone to see these types of work. Making an impact in any shape or form. Now giving you more chances to create more.
And something to know is no matter if it’s only seen by 100 people or 100,000 people you have still made an impact.
T: Next year, Black British Creatives need to continue to be bold and make the art and build the things that we want to in the way that we want to. Be even more daring and, more importantly for those like myself who sometimes lack self-belief, talk proudly about what we are doing and do so more consistently.
If you could sum up 2017 for black creatives in the UK in 3 words what would they be and why?
AF: Innovative, impactful and fearless.
T: 2017 for Black British creatives in 3 words: inspiring, empowering, affirming.
Inspiring because of the tremendous quality of work that I have seen this year.
Empowering because seeing that work and seeing my own work recognized gives me an empowered feeling to be able to do more.
Affirming because there has been a message of love and support and human warmth at the centre of a lot of events this year which feels incredible because it has acknowledged our common human desires to love and to create in a supportive community, which we need to keep doing.
This articles hopes for the new year can be encompassed by a simple quote:
once we all work together for a specific vision then the collaboration will always be rewarding.