“Often, the communication between Creatives and non-Creatives has involved two different languages and value systems. As the US...and the Triad... shifts into an economy of innovation and ideas, people will begin to value creativity and design more.
“I called Margaret Collins when I returned from living in Shanghai and I was looking for new ways to reconnect in this area. Actually, I’m usually in “growth mode”—finding something new to learn and new people to learn from excites me. I developed great new relationships at Margaret’s creative roundtable meetings, a wonderful network of talent, creativity and exploration. Triad Design Leadership was one of the first projects I worked on with Margaret. I served on the founding committee which created that dynamic series of keynotes and workshops. For these events, we recruited six world-class designers to invigorate the area’s creative community and ultimately, the creative economy.
“Margaret’s initiatives were exciting. Who wouldn’t be attracted to a collaboration of dynamic, creative people from various sectors who truly wanted to make something exciting happen? It was Margaret that put us all in the same room.
“In fact, it was at these roundtables that I connected with Roy Carter and Robert Donnan. Together, we formed Innovation Orchestra, a terrific business that helps people use Design Thinking to find innovative solutions to their seemingly insurmountable problems. Thanks to Margaret’s initiatives, I met Roy and Robert and now we are building an innovation company with great potential.”
“In the Western world and especially in the Triad, there still exists a long-standing lack of appreciation for creativity. In real terms, that means that only six percent of our company’s revenue comes from this region.”
“Unlike most photography houses, we don’t have a “niche”. Instead, we have a methodology we apply across a number of market segments. We couple versatility and adaptability with an artistic vision that is reflected in all our work. At its core, that vision rests upon both the visualization of human emotion and a unique lighting methodology unburdened by the assumptions of traditional methods.”
“I participated in the Creative Economy roundtable meetings and Triad Design Leadershop, for which we provided photography. These experiences were valuable because I was able to focus more clearly on how to make our art more viable. Design thinking was a major key for us to understand how to grow our business by changing the way we see the world. I learned that the fundamental twist in design thinking is that it’s not about you; it’s about your client. Now, we’re more interested in finding out who they are and how we can meet their needs. We also learned the importance of opening yourself to others’ talent and skill. Opening up communication between artists is phenomenally important. Margaret presented a very non-threatening environment that facilitated dialogue among artists.”
“Our business has experienced increased clientele and increased customer loyalty because we now understand how each of our clients individually will use our work. I believe that the success of every artist affects the success of every other artist. In addition, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else ever will.”
Still and Motion Imaging
The House of Nyghtfalcon
I don’t think the Creative Economy is fully understood. Creativity cuts across a number of disciplines that are a part of everyday business. People should define creativity as ‘problem-solving’—even accounting can be a creative process.
I’m one of the founders of Wildfire, a fully integrated marketing and communications company. We advise clients big and small, and our staff includes graphic designers, copyrighters, and social media specialists, to name a few—because we’re a small agency in a small market, we can afford to be versatile. I received an invitation to attend one of Margaret’s creative roundtable discussions, and our relationship developed from there. It was a distinctive networking opportunity, a way to learn new ideas and engage our employee and client base, and an outlet for me to look for inspiration as well. Part of being in the Creative Economy is to develop an understanding that ideas are inspired from anywhere.
Margaret and I created a program called Digital Marketing Boot Camp, which was born out of the realization that, while the digital age has made advertising infinitely more visible, young hopefuls still couldn’t get that 101 course that could answer the questions: “What is this? How do I know about these tools and begin to use them?” We put together a six-week course that attempted to provide tactical how-to instruction. The Digital Marketing Boot Camp significantly impacted our business—it made us smarter about what you could achieve in this digital space; it forged connections that led to speaking opportunities and clients; it opened conversations with national organizations about growing beyond this area; and it helped us to further establish our social media practices.
The Creative Economy programs helped me realize that, in our business, there’s no end to what we can involve ourselves in. We are creative thinkers and problem solvers here, and our creativity should go much beyond marketing and advertising.
""The Center for the Creative Economy is a key ally in our region’s economic development progress. They are the one-stop resource in growing the creative economy jobs we need. Margaret Collins provided invaluable assistance to our inaugural film contest, going the extra mile in connecting us with regional contacts. CCE is uniquely positioned to help develop the Triad’s rich creative assets and people."
Randolph County Economic Development Corporation
I think the problems the Creative Economy’s experiencing are mainly perception issues. Creatives do more conceptual and intangible things, and the benefits of creative efforts are not as immediately apparent as the more direct benefits that doctors and lawyers supply. People don’t realize how effective these creative efforts can be for the economy as a whole.
Fuller Architecture is a commercial architecture and design firm. My position involves a pretty extensive array of skills involving 3D modeling, Photoshop, and visualizations for marketing materials. I provide the aesthetic and conceptual direction for our projects. In this economy, my biggest challenge has been convincing clients to go the extra mile by considering the creative elements of their project.
Margaret was seeking representation from Davie County, and I agreed to participate in Triad Design Leadershop and the Design Link advisory board. Design Link especially appealed to us because our location is such that we can’t offer good access to the few architectural institutions in the state. We were interested in trying to retain our talent pool and keep our architects here. I also liked that Margaret was advocating the idea of creative education by educating business-types on the value of creative efforts.
Going on the Design Center Exploration trip gave me a lot of insight into the importance of having architectural centers in a community. A lot of these schools had programs that involved outreach to elementary school kids—I liked the idea of introducing and nurturing creativity to these children early on, with the hope that they’d carry this mentality to adulthood. Being a part of the TDL program was also invigorating. Seeing the example of those very successful people in action inspired me to be more proactive and to keep pushing what I believe in.
“The Creative Economy is perceived by the business community as less accessible than other disciplines, mainly because many creative work methods aren’t as standardized as in other economic sectors. Here at CJMW, our main challenge has paralleled the evolution of the economy—we’ve been looking for creative ways to assist clients beyond traditional design services.
“Margaret reached out to local architectural firms, including CJMW, with a germ of an idea about starting a local architectural and design center. I was intrigued by this economic developer’s perspective of creativity—it was exciting to see creativity being valued beyond its own circle. In addition, I was born in this area, and although I worked for a while abroad, I wanted to make an impact here in the Triad. We named the project Design Link and I joined the advisory group in early 2010. I also participated in the Triad Design Leadershop program, and joined the CCE Board of Directors in June 2011.
“The Design Link advisory group hosted a research trip to Vermont, Washington DC and Detroit to visit existing design centers in an effort to see how we could model our own entity. It was interesting, helpful, and eye opening. It was refreshing to see that these centers ran student projects with emphasis on community and artistry—I became interested in re-connecting with this primary aspect of creativity. Being a part of TDL was also rewarding; I was interested to see how a structured process could lead to creative innovative solutions. People sometimes harbor stereotypes about creative processes as disorganized and overly subjective, but this workshop was able to focus creative energy in a disciplined and rigorous way, without sacrificing the end result or eroding the process.
“If the CCE can develop Design Link, and collaborate with universities to bring an architecture school to the Triad, it will cultivate a new group of interns, jobs and partnership opportunities for all. I’m feeling positive about that happening in the future—meanwhile, CJMW continues to be interested in and supportive of any Design Link and CCE initiatives.”
Allison worked with CJMW Architects in Winston-Salem from 2007-2011, and recently relocated.
Chapel Hill, NC
If you look at the general economy, people are not necessarily willing to pay for good design. We’re a very pragmatic country. What people don’t realize is that good design leads to better products, improved lives and can make a fantastic difference in the world. Design focuses on human interaction, better living conditions, environments that use less energy and make good use of natural light. We’re fortunate to have a lot of good design companies in this region, namely electronics, furniture, and textiles.
At UNCG I teach basic design, or how to think critically about design—my own specialties are product design, furniture design, and objects of the environment. I met Margaret at an open house hosted by UNCG, which led to my participation in her creative roundtable discussions, in the Triad Design Leadershop last year, and on the Design Link advisory board. I was attracted to the opportunity to exchange with other designers. Branding the Creative Economy for greater visibility in the Triad would definitely be good for UNCG.
These Creative Economy initiatives have been very instrumental in opening a lot of communication channels with designers in the region. Designers hardly ever come together, and these venues proved very valuable. The biggest benefit from the TDL was inspiration. It was interesting to listen to keynote speakers and attend workshops, which involved collaborative activities like brainstorming sessions and role-playing exercises. These programs helped me reaffirm the importance of community, innovation, and collaboration.
UNCG Department of Interior Architecture