Interview: The Apatite Collective

In my last post, I talked a bit about the solitude that comes from the creative life--and how we have to make an effort against this solitude. One of the best ways to combat it is to join an artist collective. Or, if there isn't a collective in your community to join--start one. Together, the ladies of the Apatite Collective share a work space, resources, advise each other, and offer their work and services to the greater community. I first met them when I was a vendor at their Holidaze Market last December, and when things settled down after the holidays, I got in touch with them for this interview.

What is the Apatite Collective?

Apatite Collective is a handful of working artists with a grassroots approach to localizing all of the amazing talent and drive we see in our peers and role-models through collaborating, sharing resources, and organizing events. We think it’s important for small businesses, and individual artists to have a strong network of friends and resources to rely on. We hope that our efforts result in some local appreciation and support for all the talented individuals who are out here “making it happen.” Right now our active members are Nicole Melone, Amanda Lachapelle, and Ally Sterling.

 The Apatite Collective: Amanda Lachapelle, Ally Sterling, and Nicole Melone

The Apatite Collective: Amanda Lachapelle, Ally Sterling, and Nicole Melone

How did you get the idea to start a collective?

Nicole Melone: The idea started about a year ago when myself and Anastasia Caras quit our day jobs together and decided to freelance. We loved the team atmosphere we had at the agency we worked in and wanted to replicate that in a shared space. Aside from that little stint at the agency I have been a freelance Graphic Designer since college and it can be a pretty lonely career. With no one to bounce things off of and only yourself to somehow keep you motivated enough to grow as a professional and an artist is a sure fire way to get stuck in a creative rut.

We would have un-named meetups at each others 1-room apartments where we would just work on separate projects and talk about everything from how to find new work to how the heck we file taxes. That quickly evolved into a more collective atmosphere when I began renting a small studio space in an old school (where I actually attended elementary school). Enter Amanda!

Amanda Lachapelle: When Apatite Collective started out I had been running my business and working from home for about 2 years. I had already been bouncing countless ideas off of Nicole and we had started collaborating with designs and products for Luna Pines. The collective was kind of a formalization of what we had already been doing. We saw the potential for growth, both individually and collectively.

Amanda decided to go in on the rent for the 2-story 10x10. We spent a good 2 months cleaning this space that hadn’t been used for anything more than a storage closet for what seemed like 100 years (probably not far from the truth). We would meet up after work, crack a few beers and paint the yellowed 15ft walls with a few fresh coats of white. Those late nights often resulted in daydreams of what we aspired to do with this collective and really solidified our confidence in one another's dedication to this project. We soon asked Ally to join which completed our trifecta of Active members. In addition to the collaborations we have going on, we all stay in touch at our weekly morning video chats and monthly meet ups where aside from catching up on Apatite-related matters we make sure to make time to grow our friendship through nature walks, sharing our personal passions and life experiences.  Our name, Apatite Collective, was inspired by the Apatite stone that is said to have inspirational properties and promotes a humanitarian attitude, inclining towards service, aids in communication, and self-expression. Also known for stimulating creativity and helps access information to be used for the common good.

What are some of the benefits for artists working in a collective?

Being an artist is a lonely job. Often you find yourself working late into the night, isolated in your studio, and have nowhere/no one to show your work. A collective is a response to that struggle. By being a part of a collective you have an ongoing dialog with other artists which helps keep things in perspective and to get feedback on what you’re working on. Our collective is focusing on ways to help entrepreneurs show their work and develop. Also we can work on larger goals together that would otherwise be really challenging on our own. Having somewhere TO GO and work that isn’t your living room couch or home studio is a game changer for a freelancer. Although the space is small we have made it work for us by pooling our resources to make a cozy and useful shared space. We have all come with overflowing armfuls of books, supplies, software, equipment, furniture and artwork to furnish the communal space that has really made it such a wealth of inspiration and collaboration. We’ve also been finding lots of joy in sharing not only our possessions but also our specific trades with one another. From Amanda showing me how to cut linoleum for relief prints to Ally teaching us about herbs to me giving the girls tips on how to use a camera and lighting to get kick-ass product photos for their online shops.

Any advice for readers who are searching for an artist community, or looking to start their own?

If you are looking for an artist community or collective, reach out to us! In addition to putting together events and happenings, we hope to eventually have meetups with our artists, set up critiques,  and offer workshops to help expand skills, which includes helping artists get set up on social platforms and their own online shops.

Starting a collective can be a challenge these days.  Finding like-minded people can be hard. What I suggest if you are looking to start your own or just to find artists to connect with, is to go to local events that interest you and start talking to people in real life! The best way to genuinely connect with people is with face to face conversation. Though you may not want to jump right in with “hey, let’s start a collective,” or “let’s meet up next week,” you could always exchange emails or business cards and follow up with them later. You might have to put yourself out there a little bit, but once you find your people, it’s totally worth it.