WELD, One Year Later

While we’ve already talked about the talents of Brett Warren here on Sparks, there’s not doubt this Nashville WELDER is one of a kind not only in his photography and visual talents, but because of his vibrant participation within our community. We’re thankful for Brett’s words originally shared on his own blog (and repeated below) and for his constant contribution and care for the WELD community.

Here we are… July 2016, exactly one year has passed since I joined the community here at WELD in Nashville, TN. Let’s rewind and take a look at just what things were like then.

The kindness of friends has always played a humongous role in all areas of my growth as an artist. I remember booking jobs and people asking me where my studio was located. I immediately became a little panicked, and always suggested we would rent somewhere that seemed like a good fit as I wracked my brain for locations. My dear friend Beverly at Savant Vintageopened up her doors to me, and let me shoot in the space behind her shop on 12th South. At that time, it was a garage and has since been transformed into a truly incredible Air Bnb space. I remember telling her for one particular shoot that we were going to fill the floors with lilac sand to create an indoor beach. Without even blinking en eye, she said yes… because she believed in me. That will always mean the world to me.

As productions grew more intensive, I found the need to get a larger space to shoot my commissioned projects in. My pal James Worsham had mentioned a co-working space he was creating an installation for that I should investigate. Nope, I had already decided that co-working was not for me. Months later, James and I were collaborating on a project called Loor, and he invited Austin MannJordan Bellamy, (the two co-founders of WELD ) & Katie Lentile to stop by and see our immersive exhibit. I remember being rather nervous meeting everyone that evening, and feared I had fumbled through the introduction.

A week later, Austin invited me over to WELD to see the space for myself. I was so impressed. A place to create, work, and find the community that I was unknowingly searching for. I was editing everything in the back room of my home. I intentionally created the space to be inspired within, but it began to feel more like a reclusive void as the months drug on and the work load grew. I began to believe that I didn’t need anyone around, and that if anything was going to happen in life… I just had to hunker down and do the work. I will call it what it is, the spirit of isolation is a sickness. A little thought that creeps into your mind, and motivates you to veer high up into the lonesome ups and downs on the mountain that is working for yourself… alone.

You see, an independent spirit is vital to success, but an isolated spirit is the very poison that will stop it dead in it’s tracks. I’ll borrow the age old phrase, No man is an island.

While on vacation in Florida with my family, I booked a job to shoot an entire collection for a local designer. We were entering into an ongoing relationship together, so I felt a little more comfortable entertaining the thought of finally becoming a member of WELD. I immediately began bombarding Katie with a small library of questions. She was patient with me, and I swallowed the lump in my throat and decided to commit to making things official. I was excited, I was scared. It was the best decision I could have made.

I remember the feeling I had when upon my first shoot in the studio. I was finally able to feel that I had a home to create within, and became insanely inspired by the people I began to meet within the space. Looking back, I had absolutely no idea that WELD had only been open for 1 month. In typical Brett style, I kept to myself most of the time. It was my safe place, a place I knew very well. Perhaps I thought I was protecting myself from disappointment that can come with depending on others which I had experienced in the past. I soon came to realize I needed these people. One by one, I began meeting the most incredible people, talented people, who were taking the time to get to know me… not my work, me. I began to open up. We have shared our victories, and confided in one another when things got a little cloudy.

When I joined WELD I anticipated a huge shift in my work, which did occur. During my time here productions grew larger, bigger shoots were booked, and I feel my work has taken an exciting new direction. The most exciting change has nothing to do with my work. I have witnessed a shift deep within myself. Isolation is born out of fear, and it has been one heck of a year uprooting all the things that come with letting isolation take control of your life. I am nearly 3o years old now, and I am happier than I have ever been in all my years. I think for the longest time I believed that the things I was passionate about made me weird or un relatable. I feared that my excitment and passion over certain things were deemed too intense for some, so they wrote me off. I have learned these things make me who I am, and I finally feel like I am walking freely in that space. Yes things are stressful and life presents it’s many trials, but I have learned so much about the strength of community and depending upon others. Nashville finally feels like home.

You are important, and I will relentlessly remind you that the world is in desperate need of your brilliant perspective on life. I have written all of this to hopefully encourage you to invest in whatever community you may find yourself within. If you are currently seeking community, keep your eyes and heart open, you will find each other.

Speak up, reach out, and invest in those around you… I can promise you it will pay off.