When you think of your friendships, what comes to mind?

Maybe it’s a lifelong buddy, someone who has been with you through thick and thin. Maybe it’s a new acquaintance you just met, but you instantly bonded with over shared interests. Maybe it’s someone all the way across the world or across the country that you’ve been meaning to catch up with. A pen pal you’ve rekindled correspondence with during quarantine.

For a handful of Skillshare Teachers, those friendships serve not just as important bonds, but also as a source of inspiration and mutual support. A cohort of creatives who rely on each other for tips, as sounding boards, for a fresh idea, and even sometimes to take each other’s classes.

In the spirit of International Day of Friendship, we asked Skillshare teachers what their connections mean to them. For many of our teachers, they met while teaching, swapping tips and tricks for how to make a great class. Others collaborate on projects together, using a collective creative spark to take their projects to the next level. We talked with Skillshare teachers Evgeniya Righini-Brand, Jen Dixon, Nic Squrrell, and Ohn Mar Win about what makes their friendships tick, how they support each other in teaching and in their own disciplines, and the power of connection among creatives.

Art by Ohn Mar Win from her Skillshare Staff Pick “Organic Expressive Florals With Watercolor and Ink”
Art by Ohn Mar Win from her Skillshare Staff Pick “Organic Expressive Florals With Watercolor and Ink”

What does friendship mean to you?

Jen: The idea of friendship for me is about having that comfortable flow, whether it is conversation, ideas exchange, or having the ability to pick up again anytime even if we’ve been apart or quiet. It’s trust, it’s love, and it’s ideally pretty effortless. 

Evgeniya: It’s all about camaraderie, mutual support, and being understood. Even if we might be professionals in different areas, we still have so much in common which makes it really easy for us to connect and relate to each other.

Nic: Friendships are really important, and having artist friends is great as we are all generally working from home on our own. We can share successes and cheer each other up when things aren’t going so well.

Do you discuss your work with your friends? Do you critique each other’s work?

Ohn Mar: I often like to sound out class ideas, or send over potential class scripts to see if I’m hitting the right tone as it may seem obvious to me how to fully load a brush, another set of eyes are always welcome. I welcome the honest feedback and support.

Nic: Yes, and yes but only if we ask each other’s opinions! It’s helpful to have another person looking at a project or to discuss ideas with.

How do your friendships spark inspiration?

Art by Evgeniya Righini-Brand from her Skillshare class “Mastering Illustrator Tools & Techniques for Creating Geometric Grid-Based Designs”
Art by Evgeniya Righini-Brand from her Skillshare class “Mastering Illustrator Tools & Techniques for Creating Geometric Grid-Based Designs”

Evgeniya: Beyond discussing things and sharing what we are passionate about, taking each other’s classes and even collaborating on some projects sparks a lot of new creative ideas! In a way I think we know each other better through the classes we teach, so it makes communication effortless, smooth and relevant to all parties.

Ohn Mar: Sometimes I will say out loud WOW when I see other teachers art work and DM them immediately to tell them how frickin’ inspiring and amazing they are. The exchange of ideas are free flow honest exchange because we are all trying to be better artists and teachers. 

Jen: I have the most inspiring friends, for sure! I love seeing what my teacher friends are up to. When you see them excited or on a roll with some successes it is totally infectious. Occasionally, if I’m in a weird headspace, it can feel almost intimidating because of how brilliant they seem at their work. However, I know that when I feel that way that I could reach out to them and we’d figure out how to get me back on track.  

“Creativity takes courage and the cornerstone is encouragement and community.”

Ohn Mar Win

Is it important to you to have close-knit creatives in your life? If so, why?

Ohn Mar: Hand on my heart I can say if I didn’t have a creative community of like minded individuals I could not have made some fearless advances over the last 4 years here on Skillshare. I only feel empathy, supported and nurtured. Creativity takes courage and the cornerstone is encouragement and community.

Evgeniya: It is very important for me, and even more so on the personal level rather than anything else: we share the same passion and might come across a little obsessed with what we do, but there is always so much to talk about! Most of my friends are creative, and living far away from them for the past few years I’m grateful for being able to make more creative friends by teaching on Skillshare and even meet some of them in person! 

Art by Nic Squirrell from her Skillshare class “iPad Art: Create a Monster - An Introduction to Procreate”
Art by Nic Squirrell from her Skillshare class “iPad Art: Create a Monster – An Introduction to Procreate”

Jen: Back to the only child thing: I never had a network of creatives in the past, but in recent years I have appreciated my growing circle of amazingly talented friends. We share the highs and lows, the personal, the professional. It really is nicer than going it alone. 

Nic: Yes!  Because other creatives understand what we do in a way that most people don’t. We don’t generally have colleagues so it’s great to have friends to discuss things with.

What inspires you most about your friends in this group?

Jen: They are all so dang passionate! I am an obsessive creator, and to find a gang that understands that baked-in passion is so different to other friends. For example, most of my friends outside of creative pursuits would be bored to tears if I brought up the differences between brands of coloured pencils, but my creative homies are my nerd crew on that kind of thing! Love that. It’s also great to be able to message a creative friend and share exciting news and they know exactly how it feels. Niche friends are ace.

Evgeniya: For me the most inspiring thing is probably the honesty about what goes on behind the scenes, that nothing comes easy and we all put a lot of passion and effort in what we do.

Ohn Mar: I’m actually an introvert but by heck if we could ALL spend a day together with good food and wine I know we would not stop talking the entire time. There is a common ground that runs deep and is assured even though we may only meet a few times a year. There is no pretence just authentic rapport.

Nic: We are all self employed, which takes a certain kind of energy. My friends are fun, sympathetic, creative, driven, supportive, and just generally lovely people. I’m very lucky to have found this group.

Art by Jen Dixon from her Skillshare Staff Pick “Creating Small: Mini Masterpieces with Big Impact”
Art by Jen Dixon from her Skillshare Staff Pick “Creating Small: Mini Masterpieces with Big Impact”

Do you share sources of inspiration with each other? 

Evgeniya: Yes, sharing technical tips and tricks and even just seeing how other people do things is always super helpful. And of course being able to bounce some ideas around helps to get moving forward.

Ohn Mar: All the time from production standpoint, from concepts through to lighting. I would not have been able to research some of my current equipment without their help and guidance.

Nic: Yes, definitely. We are not in competition with each other, we all have our unique qualities and areas of knowledge, and we are very supportive of each other.

Discover a creative community to call your own on Skillshare. You can start with classes by this friendly group of teachers: