7 FREE online creative events to watch, listen and learn (past and current)
For a less participatory approach, there are plenty of resources for both illustrators and writers:
There are also many collaborative opportunities through the standard social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.
Free collaborative drawing events
It’s a matter of joining some groups and taking part in collaborative sessions like Facebook’s Vancouver Comic Jam, Montreal Comic Jam, or Comic Jam Hawaii. These events are open to anyone, once you’ve joined the group, and occur monthly.
Don’t let the name “comic jam” scare you. These events are all about spontaneously drawing. If you want to practice generating quick ideas based on someone’s previous drawing and text in a comic panel, this event is for you. Artists of all drawing levels take part — so it’s a great way to network with pros if you want to learn new skills.
Many of these events currently use Zoom, which is easy to use. The best part about a live Zoom meeting is that you can communicate with thousands of creatives from all over the world. Note that the free version has limitations such as session length. So make friends with someone that has a paid subscription if you want to test-host your own events without committing to a subscription. It’s best to use a paid subscription, as the video with the free version isn’t encrypted.
Zoom has a few glitches. The main one is that if your internet connection isn’t great, the video is choppy. If you’re not the host, turn your video camera off to help with that issue. Experienced hosts or moderators usually turn people’s audio and video off at the beginning of a session for that reason. There is a chat box if you need to communicate with others or with a specific person.
If you’re hosting an event, you can use any phone as a 2nd camera in Zoom (YouTube 2:35).
For something like an illustration event, it’s great to capture things from an overhead (or over-your-shoulder) shot of your illustration, plus a medium shot of your face. Participants can see both views, but can choose which one they want to see full-screen.
Along with Zoom, many online drawing events also use Aggie.io (collaborative painting/drawing application). Of the online collaborative tools, it’s one of the easiest to use. Plus, it’s free. You can collaborate in real-time once you set up an account.
With events like a comic jam, you share the link to your drawing (via Zoom chat) so others can collaborate on it. Each person who takes part needs to create their own layer to lock their sections of the drawing. Much like other graphics programs, you can copy, paste, import images and so forth. There isn’t a Text tool, so it helps to have something like a Wacom tablet to write the text. There are alternatives to Aggie.io, but they all seem to have limitations of some sort.
Beyond collaborative Zoom events, there are other Social media live streaming options like Microsoft Meetings. For collaborative story-writing tools, there is WriteAlong.io, but it’s still in the Beta phase.
These tools are great for offering “live, innovative, interactive sessions” with umpteen friends and fans. It’s a great way for you to connect with your social media followers and clients, and to promote your work.
Affordable creative Zoom events
Unfortunately, most of the writer-specific conferences have come and gone for this year:
I hope you manage to get through these crazy times unscathed and can stay creative. Even though the world seems to be self-imploding around us, remember:
“Creativity involves breaking out of expected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” ~ Edward de Bono
Stay strong. Stay creative!