Views of the Six — Knowledge for Young Creators

You’ve probably walked by Toronto’s Soho House without giving it a second thought. Sitting just west of University and Adelaide, the brick building with two red doors and a simple patio along the side doesn’t stand out.

Stepping inside its first floor lounge can be a shock. The walls are filled with art, other than the moose mounted above the fireplace. Watching the detail the bartender puts into a cocktail will make your wallet shudder. This is the place where the city’s wealthy and powerful creatives mingle. It’s as if this building was chosen as a purposeful metaphor for this panel on Toronto’s place in the creative sphere.

The first in a series of 16 panels throughout cities in North America, Views of the Six brought together creators and tastemakers from Canada and the U.S. — including Dames Nellas, Dana Blair, Irving Dee, Erin Lowers and J. Alex Brinson — to reflect on Toronto’s reputation and future as a creative hub, and give aspiring influencers insight into the business of creation.

These creatives took us through Toronto’s history, from a time when we hid where we were from, to today, where Toronto is literally buzzing internationally.

They also dropped some knowledge for all us wannabes in the room, which you may have followed through our live-tweeting of the event. If not, we’ve curated their best advice below:

Monetizing Your Work

Dana told the crowd about a project she worked on where a major brand was wanted three specific artists for a project. Part of her role was negotiating their pay. Each artist asked for less than the brand had budgeted for them. One artist, who the brand wanted most and was willing to pay highly, offered to do it for free. Going into pay negotiations, you need to understand your reputation and have an idea of what your time is worth.

Irving and J have two different methods for putting a price on their work. J asks himself what he’s bringing to the client that they wouldn’t get without him. Irving looks at what his favourite artists are being paid and measures his work against theirs.

Taking Unpaid Work

That being said, if you’re in a creative field and only taking projects that produce a paycheque, you’re probably not working much, especially starting out. All panelists agreed that you’ll have to do projects for free, but cautioned the audience to choose them wisely and plan how else you can benefit:

Getting Brand-Sponsored Work

Irving once got a message from Roc Nation asking him to work on a project. Many major brands have people tasked with finding that next hot creator with a unique style to partner with. And right now, those brands are looking at Toronto.

Dana works as that researcher, and she explained why she’s looking for more than an aesthetic:


One of the biggest questions troubling young creators is schooling — is the investment into formal training worth it?

Irving admitted skipping out on school a lot, but being productive while he did it:

He also spoke about a prof who wouldn’t let him postpone an exam for a job, which garnered a collective groan. But Dames countered saying communicating with your professors can make school work for you:

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