It’s been just over one year since we founded The Subcreators.
If that name sounds familiar to you, that means one of two things. One, you know me personally and are a part of the group. Two, you’ve read J. R. R. Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories,” which defines what “subcreator” means. The idea behind the name is simple: since we are created in God’s image, we reflect aspects of His character, including His creativity. We are not the Ultimate Creator like Him, but we are mini-creators because of Him—or, in other words, we are Subcreators. The significance behind this term is precisely why we adopted it as the name of our little collective of creatives.
This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned the Subcreators in the blog (I talked briefly about it as a part of my Writing With A Day Job series this summer), but I did want to spend a little time marking this anniversary with a brief post dedicated to the group.
Let’s start at the beginning. One year ago, about July or August, me and two of my friends had an idea. We’re all fans of The Rabbit Room, an organization in Nashville, and desired a similar community of Christ-following artists, musicians, and writers in our own local community. We’re also big fans of the Inklings, the writers’ group including J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. We wanted our group to meet somewhere in the middle of these two groups.
Hence, the Subcreators was born: a group seeking to cultivate local artists, musicians, and storytellers to steward our talents for the glory of God. The three of us went on to vision cast and eventually took on “Director” titles as we led the group. I serve as the Director of Story. Co-founder Caleb Cole serves as the Director of Art (@calebcole.art). Our third co-founder Carson Woodard serves as the Director of Music (@carsonwoodardmusic).
Our beginnings were fairly humble. Our first “official” meeting took place in the upper room of a (family-friendly) bar, including the three of us founders, my brother Mitchell (@maddaxelphotography), and Carson’s brother Colson (@colsonwoodard). We shifted to a coffee shop location and added another member, a friend of ours who is a talented musician and artist, Chloe (@chloemikaelamusic). We started meeting regularly every other week, our meetings semi-disorganized but still focused on art as we discussed what works inspired us and how our current artistic endeavors were going. We finished out the first semester of meetings with a Christmas party to watch Klaus, an artistic masterpiece of a movie from its story to design to music.
The fall was intentionally a smaller pilot for us, but in the spring, we hit the ground running. We added more formalized structure to our meetings: we actively focused on listening to music, studying art, reading story, and discussing it. We had a work-in-progress share night to critique one another’s art. Our membership grew by a few more people. We started meeting in the local library. This summer, we pumped the brakes a little, slowing down for a book club reading A Wrinkle in Time together, which has led to some of our best discussions, in my opinion.
We are still a small group, averaging eight people a meeting. But it’s awesome.
Admittedly, I felt a little discouraged at points with our slow trickle of growth and tiny group membership. When we set out to create the Subcreators, we had lofty goals. Speaking personally, I hoped we’d be able to host concerts, get our own venue for theater, art shows, performances, etc., and become a vibrant beacon to our city. And maybe, one day, be nationally recognized like The Rabbit Room. I knew building something like this took time, but for a while, I wanted us to be growing faster. After all, we felt God had put this desire on our hearts and we were seeking Him in our leadership. Why couldn’t He bless us with an incredible explosion of community?
Well… He has. Already.
Our numbers may be smaller than I expected or hoped for, yet our community is so precious to me. We’ve had awesome discussion about Christian artistry, shared our own art with great vulnerability and courage, and encouraged one another in our artistic endeavors. And when you compare that with our mission statement, we’re doing the very things we set out to do and that we prayed about doing.
When I realized this, I slowed down to appreciate the Subcreators as it is now. And you know what? Suddenly, all those shiny dreams and aspirations didn’t seem as needed. Sure, I think it still would be cool to get big enough to put on our own musical. I would still love for those outside of my network of friends to get involved. But we don’t need those things to accomplish the goals of our group. We’re already doing those very things with what we have.
The Subcreators is a huge blessing to me. I’m so thankful for all the individuals who make up our merry band of artists, musicians, and storytellers. Even though I am the lone fiction writer, I feel nourished and inspired by the artists and musicians among us. And, even though I’m somewhat responsible for running meetings, it’s never a burden to step into leadership with this group, this community. It’s a blessing to serve them in this small way of coming up with things to talk about and fostering intentional conversation. It’s more than a blessing—it’s a joy for me.
I’m so thankful for what God has done through and with the Subcreators. I’m grateful, too, that He answered the initial prayers of me, Caleb, and Carson when we first sat down and dreamed a little. Whether we remain our merry band of eight to ten creatives or grow into a beacon of light in our city or perhaps the world, I’m excited to see what happens in our future. I love our community and the spiritual creative formation we’ve been able to share so far. I can’t wait for this next year of Subcreators, to see how we grow as artists, to see how God shapes each one of us.
If you’re longing to be a part of a local community of artists, I encourage you to lock arms with those in your current circle. Meet consistently. Be prayerful. And see how God weaves your fellowship together. It may take a bit of trial and error (it certainly did for us) but a year later, you’ll look back, and you’ll see all the answered prayers and how much you’ve grown as an artistic community—just like I am today.
2 thoughts on “The Subcreators: One Year Later”
One of the best posts I’ve read of yours! You are a gifted reflective writer. I loved learning more about your Scripture-saturated vision for Subcreators and pray that God will bless you with growth as you persevere.
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