Photo by JerSean Golatt
A big thanks to Scott for his leadership and for the tremendous effort he puts into designing incredible resources that sharpen artists all over the worldâ¦You rock man.
You may know me as a travel photographer and story teller for changeâ¦ most of the client work I do is in effort to improve quality of life for people in material poverty. I work a ton in Africa & Asia and love to create & shoot campaigns for initiatives like clean water projects, education, church expansion, clean wood-burning stoves and more. I feel strongly that we are called to use what we’ve been given to invest in others and up to last year, I did that mostly with my camera.
In northern Kenya with Paradigm Project, on assignment to capture the experience of cooking indoors over an open fire.
In 2011, I changed sleeping locations nearly 150 timesâ¦just about every other day. I loved it — I got to see some incredible things happening all over the world and make friends in some really cool places.
Philemon, my new friend and host in Fiji.
The Need & Dream
At the end of the year, I was sitting at a deli with my Dad dreaming about 2012â¦ how could I use what I’ve been given to broaden my impact? One thing was certain: I wasn’t going to move faster or shoot moreâ¦ but what if I shifted my focus a bit?
I've always really enjoyed enabling others as best I canâ¦ being behind the scenes feeding them knowledge and tools (usually geek stuff) to help them to succeed. It’s gotta be my favorite thing in the world. As we sat there, we began to dream about a a whole new way to accomplish that.
At that point, I saw (and still see) freelancers & independent creatives conducting business at home or at coffee shops all over the countryâ¦ Some people are happy with working from home and others aren'tâ¦ but happy or not, lack of access to inspirational people and tools to create inhibits our ability to run with the creative muscles we've been given.
For my own career, the single greatest thing that has and continues to enable me is connecting with others. Talking with them. Learning from them. Being sharpened, inspired & encouraged by their complimentary skill-sets.
Years ago, photographers would hang out at the lab together as they developed photographsâ¦ there they would build friendships, working relationships and businesses together. It's there that they would be inspired to spontaneously create, dream new ideas and find food for their creative soul.
In this digital age where we develop images isolated on our Macs and everyone is satisfied with Twitter follows and Facebook likes, what if there were a REAL PLACE, a physical hub that facilitated camaraderie? What if there were a place designed specifically to enable creative people?
I looked and found nothing quite like thisâ¦ so about a year ago, I decided to put my travel photography work on hold and take a somewhat scary leap of faith into creating what we now call WELD.
Thanks to my cousin Brandon, co-founder of WELD, we had an awesome space in no time. I can remember sitting in the 10,000 square feet of white walls and concrete floors for hours on end dreaming about what this place could be.
The fun thing is, even before launch we began seeing beautiful collaborations taking place. Talented people came out of the woodwork to bring their gifts to the table and help make it happen. We all worked together to dream about the space, build it and shape itâ¦ all along the way shooting fun little art projects on the side. We began to discover the magic of being together, of creating together and of constant collaboration.
WELD's communal workspace aka the bullpen.
We opened in June and today WELD is a collaborative work & shoot space that exists for one reason: to enable creatives to create. WELD does this by connecting them to like-minded people, equipping them w/ tools and giving them a place to hone their craft within a community instead of alone.
From the moment we opened our doors, people at WELD began to dream with the abilities of their peers instead of just their own — and beautiful things have come out of it. Member collaborations continue to flow and every day I'm more excited to go in and see what's being dreamed up.
The Creative Struggle
All these things have been incredible and I'm so proud to be a part of what WELD is and will be but it hasn't been without it's challenges. I'm up here writing this at 4:01 AM because there's a billion things to be done, very few of which directly relate to things I'm most passionate about.
I'm constantly navigating the unexpected, inventing solutions, executing mundane tasks, troubleshooting problemsâ¦ but something keeps relentlessly fueling my fire: vision.
I see so many people give up when their creative project doesn't go as planned. QUIT DOING THAT. If you're project is worthwhile you will always encounter a force against you and you'll never get anywhere if you don't passionately stick to your vision.
Don't give up when it's toughâ¦ by it's very nature it will be tough. If achieving your goal was easy, someone else will have already done it and it wouldn't even be vision, it'd be reality.
There will always be Resistance, working against youâ¦to discourage you, to deflate you, to tell you your stupid, to distract you. Don't accept that. Dominate it.
If Scott had given up on Photoshop when he couldn't figure out the Pen tool in the early â˜90s, you wouldn't be reading this. If FedEx had given up when they had $5K left in their bank account, global courier service wouldn't be the same today. If George Lucas had given up when everyone told him his film was too wacky, we wouldn't have Star Wars.
Do I put myself in the same class as these guys? Not for a second. But you know what kept them going and pushed them past the Resistance? Vision. Vision for the possibilities of digital image editing. Vision for the first ever overnight delivery serviceâ¦ vision for a beautifully told story of galaxies and lasers and love.
The WELD Vision
The vision for WELD is pretty simple: to help creators achieve their vision.
Whether that's a single image, a film or a full-blown business, WELD is a streamlined hub to help artists create something from nothing. It exists to reduce friction in the creative workflow to grow your vision and get you there faster. It's a place to feed starving artists and rejuvenate the plump ones. To thrust freelancers into previously unchartered frontier.
Above: One of WELD's fully equipped studio spaces where members have collaborated to create visions like this piece below:
Created by Chris Titze
WELD is designed to be an environment where the first scene of Star Wars could be conceived, written & shot. Even now, creative businesses are thriving hereâ¦ we've already seen feature length films, international non-profit campaigns, iOS apps and more born at WELD. I just can't wait to see what's in store for this place.
I hope and pray WELD will continue thrive here in Dallas but also grow across the country and impact thousands of artists and millions more through their work. I can't stop dreaming about the possibilities. About the ideas conceived, the relationships built, the business strengthened, the stories told and the lives changed through the visions achieved by WELDERS.
Whatever your vision may be, don't accept not tryingâ¦ and when you try, refuse to quit. Don't give in to Resistanceâ¦ focus on what you were made to do and do it — if you persevere, there will be no end to the beauty you will create.
Update: We are hosting a free happy hour on Friday (Feb 8th) at WELD. We are live screening of one of Kelby Training’s in-studio lighting workshops with Joe McNally (huge thanks to Scott for permission to do so!) Wine & cheese provided. Come out, pick up some studio tips and meet some awesome creative people just like youâ¦ hope to see you there. details here. http://weld.co/blog/
Thanks again to Scott & Brad for this opportunity to share — hope to see you at the upcoming happy hour!
– Austin Mann
Learn more about WELD and the artists here.
Keep up with Austin via Twitter & Instagram. And he’d love to hear from you! Shoot him a note about anything at email@example.com
Austin is good people. Great, honest post.
Thanks Brian! Hope to see you soon –
Awesome one of my images made it on the page:) I’ve been a Weld member since last June and it truly is an amazing place for growth for any creative. It certainly has been for true for me. If you are located in the D/FW area it’s definitely worth checking out.
Thanks Chris! We love having you around –
Thursday is February 7….
I’m intrigued about the details. I’ve established every Wednesday night at my studio as Open Lab when all my club members can come and sue the studio or get help with PS or make prints or just hangout and be photoish. How does funding work for this project? Can we open an affiliate space with more welders?
Make that ‘use’ the studio…
Hey Levi, would love to hear more about what you are doing and explore ways we could possibly connect. Are you in the Dallas area? shoot me a not (austin at weld.co )
I live in Frisco this is great information.
Incredible article – blessed to be a Welder.
Thanksâ€¦ Love having you around bro!
sorry for the OT post, but please fix your rss feed…you are days behind.
What about a virtual version to encourage online collaboration?
Hey Dwight – we feel like there’s some great tools out there online as it is and a strong move away from physical space so we built WELD!
Is the RSS feed working properly? My reader stopped updating scottkelby.com
Austin, I’m so pleased that Scott featured you today. I’m a Dallas mom who loves photography, and was very interested when I first read the news about WELD. I think that was before you opened. I’d love to take a class, so I’ll look over your schedule. I also wanted to note that I have a friend who recently made a mid-life career change. She is now working with World Vision and starting to travel around the world to work on nutrition projects. I’ll pass on your website to her. She will love your travel images.
Hey Lisa! Great to hear from you — would love to show you around here sometime and talk with your friend at World Vision. I’m collaborating on some other projects they’re involved in as well.
Thanks for the invitation! I’ll try to make some time to stop by. And, I’ll try to get in touch with my friend and pass on your email address.
Well done Austin! I admire what you do!
So good Mann.
Thank you sir! Hope it inspires –
Is WELD an acronym?
Best of luck, would love to make it to your neck of the woods
Thanks Ray! It’s not an acronymâ€¦ WELD just represents the idea of fusing two pieces together for a strong bond. Hope to see you around!