With the revolutionary advancements of the technology, transportation, Internet, social media, etc., collaboration is no longer as difficult as it once was, and yet in the Catholic world it is still often times a source of power left untapped. That’s why I was so pumped when I saw the Novum crew’s newest collaboration, the Novum Collective Christmas Album. It’s not because their site is amazing or because I absolutely love every piece of art on there. I think it’s all great, but the fact that they are teaming up to put their collective energy and effort behind a common cause together, that’s what gets me pumped.
I remember three years ago feeling totally alone and like I was the only one who thought the way I think about creativity in the Church. Now I’m friends with a couple thousand new like minded people, some of whom I feel like I’ve been to war and back with. 40% of our clients at Sherwood Fellows have come from the CC community, 100% of our team members and freelancers have been brought together through the community, I’ve been mentored, I’ve been challenged, I’ve been stretched to my limit and beyond it, and literally everything in my life is better for it.
Sometimes I feel like a crazy person when I tell people that CC is one of the most powerful forces for transformation in the Church today. When I say that, I don’t mean the organization behind Catholic Creatives, because (shhh don’t tell anyone) there isn’t some big organization behind Catholic Creatives. I mean the decentralized network that’s powering crazy things like this wacked out crowdfunding campaign from Novum Co.
Here’s the reality: Most of us musicians, artisans, makers, and artists are really in the beginning stages of our careers and the odds are mostly stacked against us. We have might have 1-5k followers on our social media platforms and we’ve fought hard for each and every one of them. We’re not that connected, and though we’re talented, we don’t have access to the kind of force multiplier following that let Audrey Assad jump ship from her label and go solo. We don’t have big names, there’s not a connected economy for what we do that’s supported like it is in the protestant world, we don’t have a lot of mentors or infrastructures that exist to help us. That’s how I felt 3 years ago, and CC has totally changed that for me. Now I’m getting to see that happening for others as well.
As the Catholic Creatives movement picks up momentum,a great side effect has been a new awareness of other creative communities around the country (and globe). With this greater connectivity comes greater potential. Will Hickle, Eric Wilkes, and all the other people involved in Novum saw the distributed network of CC and saw it for the force multiplier it is. What was once Novum (just Eric and Will doing their thing) they’ve expanded into a collective of Catholic creatives musicians who are putting out a super sweet Christmas Album together. They are crowdfunding it not simply by preselling the album, but by teaming up with a whole bunch of other Catholic Creative artists to sell unique Christmas gifts.
I asked Will why the move towards collaboration, and he told me that it started with the music:
“in my experience musical collaborations yield amazing results when compared to trying to do it on my own.” YES WILL. PREACH. He talked about how they leaned on each other’s talents and gifts to make the music amazing, but looked to leverage each other’s following by opening it up to one another. By collaborating instead of going it alone, “we build awareness of every artist that’s a part of the project. Every artist gets exposure to every other artists’ following.”
Everyone reading this, be like Will. Will was smart. He saw that his following might not be that big, but if he joined with 12 artists who all also have small followings, those numbers turn into a force to be reckoned with. 12x5,000=60,000. That’s a tide that can raise all ships.
Collaboration is smart, but it’s also what’s best for our souls. Will was really emphatic about that point when I asked him about how this project got rolling. He told me that as a part of the process all the musicians cleared their schedules to go on a writers retreat together. “I personally have never experienced such a wave of inspiration that came from being around so many creative people. Many of us had never been so productive or so excited to write music. Sadly I've observed that many circles of creatives work in isolation - a lot of people work alone because of schedules, location, or lack of community. This is where CC offers hope, and if you're reading this I encourage you to reach out to someone you've seen on the group that you have thought "I would love to work with them"!
Listen to Will. Find a team. Also, go buy some Christmas gifts on their site and support them. Their crowdfunding ends on Friday, so go show ‘em some love.
By Marcellino D’Ambrosio
Cofounder of Catholic Creatives
Creative Director of Sherwood Fellows