Living Ind

The Creative Class

by Dege Legg

Lafayette’s between-the-cracks creators find home on the Web In the past five years social networking Web sites have exploded over the Internet, becoming incredibly popular resources for people to stay in touch with family and friends, make new friends, discover music, and connect with people of similar interests. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook each claim more than 100 million registered users world-wide, while business-oriented sites like LinkedIn boast 40 million users, spanning over 170 industries.

Lafayette artist Kody Chamberlain is no stranger to networking, the Internet, or the arts. He’s recently completed some nationally recognized creative projects  — illustrating Beowulf for HarperCollins, co-creating Punks: The Comic, as well as founding the local Grinder art expos just to name a few — and he’s got more ideas brewing. Chamberlain’s newest brainchild is, a free social networking site for the Lafayette artistic community. Launched January 2009, the site provides a platform for underexposed and upcoming Acadiana artists to show their work and network with others in the creative community.

Post Haste with Kody Chamberlain

How many registered users are there at Lafayette Creative?

122 registered members — most are part-time or full time creators. Also, we have organizations like the Acadiana Film Festival and Acadiana Creative Arts Foundation. Traffic to the site is increasing every week.

Tell me about the site?

There’s still a lot to be done. The hard part is finding innovative ways to expand the creative community rather than the Web site itself. The creators are the focus of the site. We’ve got a large gallery, events calendar, RSS feeds, groups, forums, chat, and more. Also Lafayette Creative is done without art grants or tax-payer money of any kind. If the project is important to the community, they’ll support it. And if the project is important to the artist, the artist will find a way to fund it.

Does the site pay for itself?

Eventually, we’ll seek creator-friendly sponsors to help with promotions and expansions. I really encourage everyone in the area to spend a few minutes exploring the amazing pool of talent in Lafayette. I’ve been asked a few times to set up a donation system where people can contribute to the cause. It’s a popular concept, but I rejected it outright. The best way to support creators is to buy things they create.

How would you rate the arts community in Lafayette?

The arts community is very strong but not all of it is gallery friendly, so things slip under the radar. Lafayette Creative was launched specifically to help fill that void.

What constitutes art?

The art world tends to have a very narrow focus of what is valid and respectable. The site is a reaction to those imposed limitations. Here, comic book and tattoo artists are given the same respect as painters and sculptors.

Who are the most underrated artists in Lafayette?

That’s hard. Off the top of my head: Thad Morgan, Rob Guillory, Kelly Guidry, Fred Daspit, Jamie Orillion, Robert Dafford, and Yancy Miller.

Any advice for young artists?

There are a lot of people in the art world that build walls around creativity. Some claim to know what art is and what it isn’t because they were “taught” the difference. They heavily promote that mind set to young creators. My advice is to look past those limitations and carve your own path. Knock down the walls people put around you and question the motives they had for putting them up. Study everything. Innovate. And never claim to be an expert. Be an eager student of your craft. That’s the only way you’ll keep growing as an artist.