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WGSN Creative Class: Cam Kirk – Atlanta’s unofficial mayor of the Arts

Cameron Kirkland, known more commonly as Cam Kirk is Atlanta’s unofficial mayor of arts. Kirkland is at the forefront of the city’s rapidly developing creative scene, and has birthed a new wave of shutterbugs through his extensive and highly lauded photography work.

In the Summer of 2017 Kirk launched Cam Kirk Studio – his very own creative incubator and a very novel concept for a city known more for its sports than its artistry.

In just over a year the studio has hosted some of the biggest companies and artists in the world from Nike, Red Bull and Tidal, to T- Pain, Lil Yachty, and so many more. With this studio, Kirk has not only built a sustainable business, but taken on responsibilities as a mentor and role model for burgeoning creatives in his new home.

The Southern states have not always been acknowledged for their contributions to the arts, but with Hip-Hop / R&B taking over as the #1 genre of music worldwide, a shift is imminent.

I caught up with Cam to tap into the Pulse of A-town, and what it means to be a leader of the new creative class.

How has Cam Kirk Studio changed the creative landscape in Atlanta?

It’s given a home to the creatives in Atlanta. A comfortable and inviting environment where creatives big and small can co-exist and develop their work. It also provides much needed education tools and workshops, where we take a very hands-on approach. Our free studio time offerings have also really changed the lives of some of artists who are just getting started, giving them the opportunity to truly practice and perfect their crafts on a shoestring budget.

How has Atlanta shaped your creative process?

Atlanta has shaped my entire life. Growing up originally in Maryland, I was never exposed to a creative scene or entrepreneurs who were making a living off of their art and passion. When I moved to Atlanta, I was inspired by how many people were pursuing their dreams and exploring entrepreneurship and the way in which the city supports its own. I learned the value and power of pure collaboration here, and how to just focus on creating over just thinking about the return on investments. I started my career working with so many music artist in Atlanta and I adopted their creative approach to how I run my business. If you look at Atlanta’s music scene you see how much collaboration takes place amongst it’s artist and producers and that’s what makes it special.

Atlanta is obviously a city known for its impact in music, but what don’t many people know about the arts scene in Atlanta?

Atlanta’s music scene is so impactful on the world that it almsost overshadows the other things Atlanta has to offer. To be fair, the majority of Atlanta’s other offerings all kind of evolve around the axis of the music scene. We have one of the biggest film industries in America and that has been pretty big for the culture. Also our art scene is growing, and the world is starting to slowly recognise that Atlanta has more to offer. Atlanta is one of the fastest growing city in America so each year I feel as though the culture is evolving constantly. Who knows what may change.

The Studio has come a long way since opening last year, what can we expect in the near future.

The future of Cam Kirk Studios is what I’m most excited about. The first year of it’s existence, I spent a ton of time and energy just learning the business model and the structure. Moving into year two is where we start to really flex our creative muscle. We will be expanding the brand from a local level to a more global level through strategic partnerships and collaborations with the world’s biggest companies and creatives. We will be creating more of an overall voice for Atlanta’s creative scene and more personality to the brand Cam Kirk Studios. My future goal is to open a Cam Kirk Studios in every major city in America, and to expand even outside the country.

 

Does mentoring young creatives impact you as an artist?

Mentoring young creatives 100% impacts me as an artist. It’s actually one of the most fulfilling parts of my career and something I always hope to do. In 2012, when I first set out to be a photographer  under the specific niche of “music”, their weren’t many mentors or even success stories to follow. With the rise of social media, the typical photographer’s blueprint for  business has been completely thrown out the window. I literally had to navigate the world and carve out my own career path and create my own blueprint to success. Fast forward now to me being six years in the game and I see so many other aspiring photographers using the blueprint that I laid out is very inspiring. With my success comes a responsibility to make sure I pass on the lessons I have learned along the way to the next generation of creatives. As an artist, it builds my personal confidence and reassures me at times of doubt when somebody asks me for advice or tells me they look up to me.

 For some more city-based, creative inspiration – head to WGSN’s City by City page.

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