Team member in the spotlight: Ali

By: Eric Asare

Hi Ali, Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Can you introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Ali. I have been at the Studio Workspace for just under a year now. I was introduced to The Studio Workspace by a colleague of mine. We were working on a creative meetup and were looking for spaces for a partnership.
We went to the Studio Workspace, really liked how it looked, how friendly people were. So we decided to go for an interview and met Eric and later collaborated with Simone and Carlotta from Shimeji Creatives.

We were introduced to the Studio Workspace’s vision. Eric spoke to us about what he wants to achieve with the coworking space and where he sees The Studio Workspace in a couple of years time.

We really liked it and decided to go ahead and partner up for our creative meetups. The Studio Workspace sponsored us for our creative events and workshops. We successfully collaborated for a few months until I was approached by Eric asking me if I wanted to make the collaboration more permanent, as Space Coordinator and said yes.

What do you like about The Studio Workspace community?
I really like how I was surrounded by people who think alike and are creative people. Everyone here has a purpose and knows what they are working on. The members come here and work on their projects, they collaborate with each other and this really motivates me to do my own things as well. I really like the community and the people here. They are very helpful and friendly and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a freelancer and looking for a coworking space in Camden.

Can you tell me a bit more about your experience and what you are passionate about?
I went to University I studied Media Culture and Production. I had a keen interest in Photography and Video, but am more a Photographer. I started off with a simple Instagram photography page at where I showcase my photography. I felt the need to meet more people like myself, more creatives, so that is how I got started with creative meetups.

I went to my first meetup where I was introduced to Michael who became my co-founder. We started working together on ideas on how to help the creative community. We wanted to reach out to more people, thinking about how we could bring these people together.
We began hosting events at a central London Hotel. As the numbers grew, we averaged more than 40 people and could not use the Hotel any more.

We now had 2,000 members in our online community and really good numbers with our meetups so we decided to find a venue partner that would fit our vision. The Studio Workspace has been great for this.

You have met a lot of creative freelancers over the past year. What would you say are their biggest struggles?
Freelancing itself is quite competitive, there are many freelancers out there looking for clients. The workspace can be another struggle. Many have to work home or from coffee shops. It is not always as you imagined it to be. You might think I am going to wake up in the morning, have a coffee and start work. Realistically there are things that get in your way and stop you from doing it. I definitely recommend going to a creative workspace and studio because you are surrounded by creative people and if you need help from other people in the same field as you, you might even work together.

I think that one of the biggest problems as a freelancer is starting off, meeting likeminded people and finding projects to work on so that you can make a living from your skills and abilities.

What advice do you have for creatives wanting to build their network?
Start looking at different creative groups on Meetup or Facebook. Look at creative coworking spaces, find a mentor if you can. Find someone that is in the same field as you and has more experience and is where you want to get to. Reach out to these people because 9 times out of 10 they will be happy to help you and share their experience. They have been there before.

Network with all people, get to know the field, find out if this is what you really want. If you have a passion for it, which is the most important thing, stick with it. Once you get paid for your passion, you can get very far.

What advice do you have to someone that is thinking about going freelance?
Start out with what you can get at the time. Star off with projects here and there. You might even have to do some free projects to get yourself out there. Keep at it, if this is what you really want to do.
For example, if you are a videographer and you really want to make this a freelance career go out there and make content. Show it to the world. Upload it on YouTube or Vimeo, send it around. Send it to people in the industry that are doing it and ask them what tips they can give you or just come to The Studio Workspace and we can help you out.

Do you think University prepares for a freelance career?
Judging from my university I would not say they helped me out, not necessarily. They did give me the options to network myself and to research. But nine times out of ten, to be honest, they don’t help you out that much. It is everyone for themselves. Sure you can ask your lecturer about where you can go to get your work seen and appreciated by other people, but I don’t think universities help you to become freelancers.

If you want to become a freelancer just start off by making content. That is the thing that will help you the most. The university is just a guideline where to go and how to start but it doesn’t actually teach you how to survive as a freelancer in the business.

In your group of creatives, you have a mix of age groups. Do you feel they have different struggles?
I can see a struggle for different ages. There was one person at my university who was 38 at graduation and it might be difficult to find a job when everyone is looking for young graduates they can mould by teaching them how they want them to work at the company.
I believe there is a gap in the market in ages, and in some cases background.

What did all the creatives in your meetup group have in common?
We all shared that we liked to work in the creative field. Some are still looking for their niche while other people are lucky and know what they want straight away.
Most people try different things and need to find out what works for them. University can be good for that.

Anything else that you would like to share?
If you start as a freelancer, don’t give up. If you have a true passion for what you want to achieve keep going. Eventually, you will get there. It is just a matter of time and about who sees your work. You never know where you are going to find yourself. So keep talking to people, keep pushing and network. You never know who you are going to meet.

Thank you for your time.

Camden Gateway is London’s most eclectic Coworking space for creatives.
The perfect community for Entrepreneurs & Small-businesses.

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