FEATURING: Cator Sparks
What do the words "Creative Community" bring to mind for you? How do you feel is the best way to utilize members in a Creative Community?
Creative Community: Fun. Energetic. Free Thinkers. Giving.
The best way to utilize the Creative Community is to bring them into all aspects of your business. From brainstorming to collaborations and mutual engagement ( i.e. Social Media, posts about each other, oh look, we are doing that right here!)
How did you discover your creativity?
I have always loved writing and kept journals since I was a wee boy but my career as a journalist blossomed on a decadent 50th birthday trip to India for my friend Philip Hewat-Jaboor. It was there under a tent, sipping a G&T where I met the iconic British fashion and art journalist Meredith Etherington-Smith and she energetically encouraged me to start my writing career immediately. Upon returning to NYC I bought a laptop and began.
Name the biggest challenge you have had in your career to date. How did you solve it?
2008 financial crisis. Half my jobs dried up and the other half slashed funding. It was also the same year I was blackballed from the New York Times because I was open and honest about taking press trips for other publications. That was a teary night in the window sill for sure! But I soldiered on and found more publications to write for. I also opened up my beat to include men's fashion, art, nightlife and interior design so I could write for more people. It worked!
What was your first “Big Break” in your profession?
It was only about a year into freelancing when I landed my first New York Times piece. Thanks to my wonderful friends there like Maura Egan and Horacio Silva who believed in me and were open to pitches. Having the Times on my resume that early on certainly opened up a plethora of doors. My other big break was landing the EIC position at TheManual.com in 2012. I really was able to pitch my own ideas about content for the site and the owners (Ian Bell and Dan Gaul of DigitalTrends.com) were very open to them. Since then it has been a total dream job working with a creative and amusing group of people in both Portland and New York.
What's in your backpack/handbag/tote right now?
Now that I spend most of my time in Charleston, SC I don't carry a bag like I did in New York! When I am traveling I always have a stack of business cards, Bose headphones, new books downloaded on Kindle, All Good hand cream, the latest issue of World of Interiors, Setton Farms snacks and a Hydroflask full of H20.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out in your creative profession?
Get. Out. There. If you want to be a journalist it is not something you do from your couch. Go to every opening you can in your city or town. Meet people, print business cards, start a blog. Also, don't be afraid of the phone. I can't tell you how many people (adults too!) who tell me nobody responded to a pitch. Did you call them? Well then...Finally, manners and being grounded will get you very far. Just because you have a blog does not mean you are a celebrity. Calm it down. Stay in your lane. I have witnessed many a sassy blogger lose their ground and their jobs because they think they can talk down to others.
What are some of your favorite places/books/blogs/websites for inspiration?
Places: Charleston is my dream world. The architecture, Lowcountry cuisine, beaches, Spanish Moss and wonderful sense of community I have here has been the best therapy/medication I could ever ask for.
Wigs on the Green
Happier than God
Empire of the Summer Moon
Too Close to the Sun
http://www.acontinuouslean.com/ - MW always has great content
http://www.mansionsofthegildedage.com/ - I'm a geek
https://huckberry.com/journal- Great pieces and TheManual has a store too!
http://www.learnhorserescue.org/ - just because I volunteer here and love them
What would be your DREAM ASSIGNMENT?
One I am currently working on- a press trip to the Hebrides to check out the Scottish mills first hand. To go to Harris Tweed would be a real pilgrimage!
Who are the people that have been instrumental in your success as a creative professional?
I already mentioned them above!
And of course shouts out to my soul mates, Jeweler Justin Giunta, Milliner Rod Keenan and my husband to be, the Gentleman Gardener Paul Saylors!
What would be your last supper?
A fancy dress ball in the great hall of Castle Howard!
No food, just fizz...
Full Name: Cator Sparks
Profession: Editor-in-Chief of TheManual.com
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