The Center for Creative and Cultural Industries launched our creative site The CCI Collective over the summer as an extension of the Center. Envisioned as an online gathering place where students can explore the themes and connections of CCI, through such things as our blog, peer work, and the opportunities boards. But we aren’t the only Collective on the block! Started about a year ago, The Collective was founded by senior business majors Phil Mentz and David Farka as a place where artists could come together to collectively collaborate and create projects together. Mentz and Farca’s original idea was to create a type of music business program, but through all of their spit balling created The Collective – a campus wide art collective that focuses on getting artists all together, collaborating, producing content, and helping them see projects through the finish line.
“I want the school to think of The Collective as more of an idea rather than just a club. It’s something that every student at Chapman, whether they make the art or consume it, can participate in,” Mentz said.
Lexi Zdanov, junior dance and health sciences double major, is the third person on the team that helps Mentz and Farca run The Collective. She said that one of her favorite parts of it is being able to work with people skilled in all different areas. The combined knowledge allows members to grow, try, learn, and do a lot of things for the first time.
“I think The Collective provides students a platform to find resources and peers to help create the work they are really passionate about without nearly as many barriers. Through The Collective we are able to help students connect the dots on what they need to make their projects a reality, whether it be getting a team together, borrowing equipment from one another, or finding workarounds to make a project a little less expensive. When you have a bunch of creatives together there's no limit to what you can do,” Zdanov said.
If anyone reaches out to the organization they are always ready to help with funding, connections, or people who are ready and willing to fill in the gaps they’re struggling with to finish the project. In The Collective, you’re never left to struggle alone.
“Everyone really just wants to make something really cool and whenever you get a bunch of those people in the same room it just comes really naturally. The good thing about the Collective is that we can help facilitate those ideas and instead of them ending at 30% completed we can step in and push these projects into fruition,” Mentz said.
The past eight months of quarantine haven’t been easy for anyone, but The Collective hasn’t let it stop their creative flow.
Pre-COVID, they were throwing shows and giving artists the opportunity to showcase their work for the Chapman community. The Collective doesn’t just cater to the music crowd though. While these in person events were carried by the live set list of artists that come and play, there were also people selling photography and art and projects that people could participate in. At one show, there was an interactive painting space where people could show up and paint a skateboard however they wanted and those boards were raffled off at the end of the night.
When the pandemic hit, the Chapman community was scattered and it was difficult to organize anything. But, creativity doesn’t sit still for long.
“During the summer, me and the other members of the Collective were dying for some sort of project. We were desperate to collaborate and just get something made together,” Mentz said.
Since the big events that they were used to doing weren’t possible, they came up with the idea of the Capsule Series they dropped this semester. With a little creative thinking Mentz and David were able to build a stage in their backyard, invite artists to perform individually, and create visuals for the background that worked with the music artist that was playing. These performances were then posted to The Collective’s Instagram and are still available for viewing. Because there wasn’t the usual atmosphere of a normal live concert, they were able to get creative with how they wanted to present the music and create the experience.
The lack of in person opportunities has also allowed them to focus more on growing their social media presence and learning how to present art more through the digital space. They’ve started new features such as Monday Artist Spotlights, where Chapman artists are chosen to be highlighted every week, and Friday Collective Release Radars, which are roundups of new work and artists on campus, with the intention of still promoting all of the art that Chapman students are working on even though we’re not all together.
With things looking up for next semester, The Collective has once again pivoted to working on small in person events that follow COVID safety guidelines.
“Obviously we won’t be doing the same awesome banger house shows that we used to throw, but we’re talking to Contra and hoping to do a bi-weekly pop up shop and we’re trying to do an artist’s farmers market sort of thing. We’re just working on getting a budget so we can flesh out these ideas and start throwing out a bunch of these mini projects,” Mentz said.
Having so many members passionate about working on these projects and trying new things helps The Collective to constantly be creating new things and being able to be around each other in a creative space will provide an exciting reunion for everyone involved.
“[Everyone’s] fire gets me inspired to create, and I know I always have artists by my side to give me feedback, hype me up, and help me out. There is so much to learn from one another,” Zdanov said.
Mentz also said that being part of The Collective has allowed him to start working on his dreams for his post-college career right now. And not only are these creatives able to work on projects and collaborate now, but the organization helps to foster these bonds that can be carried on after college.
“I’m super excited for ten years down the line looking at the alumni we’re going to have from the Collective. I think we’re all working really hard right now and thinking ten years down the line I’m going to work with this guy again. It is building the community and fostering those bonds,” Mentz said.
Looking forward, the big goal for The Collective has been to create an annually recurring music festival at Chapman and they’re going to continue to work on that this upcoming semester. They’re keeping COVID restrictions in mind, but they’re not letting it stop them. Mentz said:
“Once we have a box, we’re able to think outside of it.”
Both The Collective and The CCI Collective strive to achieve similar goals. Both organizations work to make connections that other students may not initially see. With The Collective, that looks like taking a student’s initial idea and helping them make it a reality they may not have been able to envision themselves. For the CCI Collective we’re able to take a look at art spaces and creative projects such as The Collective and analyze not only what they’re doing, but how it may affect the community and culture it resides in. Both collectives have the intent of making connections and helping people think in terms of creative collaboration. Speaking of which, we certainly hope to bring our two collectives together for future projects, and highly encourage you to check out everything that The Collective is doing, and get involved! You can find them at @theco11ective on Instagram.