We are one of many

Ben Clemons, owner Bar 308, Nashville, TN No. 308 Owner and Bartender

Many of us are at the intersection between leaving a safe, established order of life and starting something of our own. As artists and writers, we pursue a restless creative path that takes us from singing to theatre acting to painting to pottery – a kind of a supplementary lifestyle that holds us good, as long as we go on with our ‘reasonable’ lifestyle. But when it comes to putting all our metaphorical creative eggs in one entrepreneur venture we shrink and shudder at the thought.

While we may feel we are alone in this journey, there is an independent creative scene picking up steam and evolving in a way that is changing the economics of the world. Not that I understand the economics of the world  or economics in general, what I understand is that many creative folks out there are choosing to leave behind their certain and safe lifestyles and starting their own cafes, shops and small businesses. In the process translating their aesthetics into business ventures that touch people’s lives.

This is where these photo essays on various creative communities of twelve American cities make you pay attention.

Brooklyn-based Writer and photographer Wesley Verhoeve has travelled the US capturing the creative folks from different walks of life – woodworkers, designers, to hairstylists, chefs, farmers, engineers, writers and coffee brewers. One of Many is a monthly series of photo essays about the creative communities of twelve American cities. Wesley’s desire behind the project was “to inspire and be inspired by the independent creative movement that is reshaping our economy and culture. To encourage and empower others to make the leap, and let those already there know they are not alone.”

I queried Wesley Verhoeve for more insight and to get a glimpse into his experience with meeting diverse mix of creative folks.

Wesley Verhoeve Photo Courtesy: BEHZOD SIRJANI

Your project is a sort of an examination of how creative folks live a fulfilling lifestyle outside the major cities and achieve the same self-driven, restless motivation for creation and commerce.  What was the inspiration/reason for starting One of Many?

I was in a transitional phase and had a little time to observe the things happening around me. It seemed like an increasing amount of creatives were choosing to move to, or stay in, the smaller cities, rather than move to the increasingly expensive perceived creative centers NYC, LA and SF. At the same time, I also felt like the same group of people were increasingly choosing to start their own small businesses, or work for other small companies, or as a freelancer. I was curious what these creative communities looked like, so I picked twelve cities to explore where I could capture this new movement in portrait and writing and see it up close.

Justin Morris, designer, Portland, OR


I love the excitement and passion that come from leaving the comfort zone and starting a new business. It is taking a leap into the unknown. What is that one driving factor that inspires creative communities to explore this route?

I think the answer is different for everyone. For some, it might be a necessity, like a stay-at-home parent who isn’t able to go to an office. For others, it might be about having more control over one’s schedule and creative output. Others even might be able to make more money as freelancers than as people on staff. There’s a myriad of reasons, and there are also plenty of people for whom the opposite is true.

Cheryl Day, baker, Savannah, GA


Most of the creative folks out there spread themselves too thin. Somewhere they are stuck midway between leaving their current agency and starting a bakery, design studio or launching themselves independently. What is your advice to them?

I don’t know if I’m really qualified to answer that question. I’m still in the middle of figuring it out for myself, and again, I think every situation is different. I’m still learning every day, watching and being inspired by friends and examples. I do know that I have learned that following the “if it’s not hell yes, it should probably be no” rule works for me, and I also keep a running list of articles and talks that inspire me in practical ways on my website with lots of advice by people more experienced and qualified than I am.

Lane Huerta, clothing design, Savannah, GA


If someone issues a search warrant through you workstation, what are they likely to stumble into?

Not much! Thank you cards, envelopes, stamps, pens, a computer display and some pretty books or prints.

Josh Harvey, founder of The Sneerwell, Denver, CO



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