First Hand — What can residencies do for emerging creatives? Inside ustwo Adventure’s Young Creators programme
You don’t need to be a successful artist or writer to gain a creative residency. Whether you’re looking to turn a creative passion into a career, gain experience in a new field or get some extra help finding resources to realise your ideas, there will likely be a residency for you. Just ask the residents at ustwo Adventure’s Young Creators Residency programme. An initiative dedicated to supporting young creative entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds, we meet the current crop of talented creatives to find out how their time on the programme has impacted them.
The residents: Amaal, Mary, David and Marissa
What is the Young Creators Residency?
ustwo Adventure’s residency programme is all about helping young creatives harness their independence. So what does this entail, exactly? Essentially, the programme provides its residents with the mental and physical space and equipment to pursue independent projects, while at the same time providing advice, resources and networking opportunities to help them achieve their potential.
Residents get three months of free workspace in ustwo’s London studio, and are matched with mentors to help them meet individual goals and offer ad-hoc support. As Neef Rehman of ustwo Adventure says, “We’re not here to hold hands, it's a programme for those who are creative, independent, and impact-oriented.”
We hear from four ustwo Young Creator Residents on what they’ve learnt during the programme, and what advice they would give to someone considering a similar residency.
Advice for aspiring residents
Visual artist with an interest in storytelling via film, graphic design and screenwriting
“As a creative, I have this constant interest in learning new skills and trying out new mediums. Next year, I’ll be creating a publication. Print is not my specialism but, during my residency, I’ve learned that an entirely new creative area should not deter you from going ahead with it. My mentors all had varied backgrounds and gave me a lot of advice. I realised that you don’t necessarily need a degree or certification to do the thing you want to do; you just have to ask the right people.”
“I realised that you don’t necessarily need a degree to do the thing you want to do; you just have to ask the right people.”
“Remember why you started in the first place, and have resilience. This was the first time I was working on a project that went from being an idea in my notebook to having the opportunity to actualise it. Often, you have a far clearer vision of what you are trying to create than anybody else, and you need the resilience not to let your idea intimidate you. Understanding that you can collaborate as well as reaching out to mentors or peers is super-important. Ask for help when you need it, you’re only one person!”
Cross-disciplinary designer, writer and political commentator (currently developing a platform for the unheard issues of local residents in particular neighbourhoods)
“To be here among so many different types of risk-taking, innovative and socially conscious individuals has been amazing. Through opportunities to present my project, Behind Home, to founders and MDs across the EU, I learned to be more specific and to-the-point in my proposals, concepts and ideas. With a residency like this, there is a lot of independent, unsupervised time which you have to learn to use effectively, maximise and develop.”
“This kind of residency challenges you to produce, to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. It really is what you make of it. I utilised the networks at ustwo to maximise my brand’s reach and scope, which I could not have done with such ease otherwise. Passion, determination and willingness to succeed are all great traits. But if you’re not ready to try new things, you’ll fall short of making progress. ”
Marissa Mireles Hinds
Writer, director, poet and creative consultant
“One thing I learned is how important a space like ustwo is for creative development. I was working on a proof-of-concept for Ghost! And the Dead Girl, a 15-minute short film, about the dehumanisation of artists in the music industry. I was able to hold auditions, business meetings, hold Skype calls and have a base to leave equipment on one of our shoot days. ustwo’s space was critical in the smooth-running of the shoot, and I was deeply grateful for that.
“I also came to recognise the benefit of having fellow creatives to work and share ideas with – you can be a mentor for others even when you are still learning yourself. The support, trust and respect I was given by my fellow creative residents and by ustwo was inspiring and helped guide me.”
“Your reasons for applying [for a residency] can dictate what you get out of it, and give you a clear direction.”
“I would say, think about what you really need from a creative residency like this. Is it space to work? Is it people to talk to about your projects? Is it for a mentor or professional advice? Your reasons for applying can dictate what you can get out of it, and give you a clear direction.
“Be open and willing to learn new things about yourself and your craft. Also, it’s okay if you don’t mesh well with a mentor, or if you are in a field that they don’t know well. Understand the value of opportunity, not only fiscally – it would have cost money to have a space like that – but in terms of being around people who are interested and invested in what you do. There is power in that.”
Creator and researcher creating thought-provoking creative work
“For me, the key lesson was to test my ideas and to trust in the process. I’ve learned not to be afraid of putting my ideas out there. The more you share with like-minded people, the more likely it will be that ideas evolve and come to fruition. People will always respond in one way or another, such as sharing their own expertise and experience in building accountability partners with peers.”
“Depending on the length of your residency, be ambitious with your project but set realistic goals and celebrate the small wins. The time will fly by! Go into an experience like this with an open mind; share your ideas, expect to be challenged, ask questions. On a more practical note, do some initial research on who you’re expecting to meet. Be resourceful and test ideas, especially while you have access to a creative environment and platform. It’s important to remember that it’s a fluid process, so keep on creating, keep learning and enjoy the journey!”
Looking for a programme to apply for?
If you’re interested in similar residency programmes, multiple initiatives exist to help entrepreneurial creatives get a foot in the door – without the financial pressures attached to studio space, resources and time. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
D&AD New Blood Shift
This night school programme takes place annually between September and January, and is dedicated to assisting young, untrained creatives in refining their craft and getting paid industry experience.
Founders Factory’s Entrepreneur in Residence
A paid opportunity for an entrepreneurial startup to gain access to industry knowledge, investment opportunities, branding and marketing advice and talent recruitment in order to build a successful business.
Adobe Creative Residency
Offers up-and-coming creative talent in digital visual design the opportunity to dedicate a year to a personal project. Residents have access to guidance and funds, as well as creative tools and software. In return, they are required to share their progress with the wider creative community at international events and online.
ustwo is a Lecture in Progress Agency Patron. Every year, Lecture in Progress partners with like-minded brands and agencies to support our initiative and keep Lecture in Progress a free resource for students. To find out more about how you can work with us, email [email protected]