Digital Arts uncovers the networking hotspots around the UK that see artists and designers from all mediums flock together…


Communication is what creatives do best – yet often designers and artists can find themselves operating in a vacuum, especially if you’re a freelancer. Networking events are the answer – a place to meet and chat with other creatives, and even hook up with clients or form partnerships with other designers.

At worst, they’re a place to grab a coffee with likeminded people – at best, they can open doors and further your career. So, here is a guide to some of the networking hotspots around the UK for creatives in any media.

Pecha Kucha

Where: London, and UK
When: Monthly
Contact: www.pechakucha.co.uk
The Japanese term ‘Pecha Kucha’ roughly translates as ‘chit-chat’ – and the famed Pecha Kucha event sees up to 14 participants showing 20 slides for 20 seconds each. The result is that the audience experiences an exhilarating range of speakers and images over the course of the evening. There’s also music, drinking and the inevitable exchange of ideas that occurs when you get so many architects, designers, artists and so on together in the same room.

Chinwag Live

Where: London
When: Monthly
Contact: live.chinwag.com
Chinwag Live was founded by Chinwag, with the purpose of lifting the lid on the issues facing practitioners and enterprises right across the digital media and marketing industry. Chinwag Live aims to tackle topics in the full spirit of community participation in a formal, relaxed setting and be a connecting force for ideas and talent.

Creative Network

Where: Staffordshire
When: Various
Contact: www.creativenetwork-staffs.org
Established to provide support and professional development for designers and creative individuals based in Staffordshire, the Creative Network holds regular networking meetings for creatives to learn and share with each other. It also provides opportunities for professional development in the form of seminars, workshops, consultant advice, and bursaries for travel and study. The Creative Network is specifically for practitioners both self-employed and those working in industry.

Futures

Where: Merseyside
When: Monthly
Contact: www.futuresnetwork.org.uk
Merseyside’s new network for design professionals, Futures targets designers working in the communications field: graphic design, Web design, advertising, interactive media, and related services such as illustration and commercial photography. It features regular networking and seminar events presented by Design Initiative in association with Merseyside ACME. Member socials feature highly for a chance to chat about work and life as a creative.

Web Wednesdays

Where: London
When: Monthly
Contact: www.webwednesdays.com
Not a creative networking event per se, but one for the diary nonetheless. Aimed at online business, it brings together Web and online entrepreneurs on the second Wednesday of every month. It aims to deliver a social whirl of creative and business people. Find business partners and clients, and talk to Internet experts across a range of specialities.

Likemind

Where: London
When: Monthly
Contact: www.likemind.us
The organizers say that Likemind is aimed at people like you – and it’s certainly an informal gathering of people who like coffee and conversation. Expect some creative folk, early morning chat, and a relaxed atmosphere.

BD4D

Where: Various UK
When: Various
Contact: www.bd4d.com
By Designers 4 Designers is a loose series of locally curated events held in UK cities that feature its famed Three Minute Madness, where designers can demonstrate their latest work and ideas to the rest of the community – with each participant having three minutes to show off.

CIN

Where: Derbyshire
When: Bi-monthly
Contact: www.creative-cin.co.uk
CIN was formed in 2001 by a group of creative professionals who recognized the lack of networking opportunities for like-minded creative individuals. A series of evening events now runs where creatives can get together to share ideas, have a beer and learn from each other. CIN has grown into a fully fledged networking organization with regular events, a full-time network co-ordinator, and Web site. CIN is also embedded in the creative sector in Derbyshire, with close links to local government and support organizations. Events cover marketing your creative work, working in the public sector, finding inspiration, and creative alchemy.

BAFTA

Where: London, plus UK
When: Weekly
Contact: www.bafta.org
The Academy holds approximately four events per month, ranging from major industry debates to pre-release screenings of film and TV productions, followed by discussions with cast and crew members. In addition, it holds a series of practical workshops, debates, networking events and workshops for children, as well as numerous networking opportunities for creatives involved with film, television, and visual arts.

Creative Networks West Midlands

Where: West Midlands
When: Monthly
Contact: www.creativenetworksonline.com
Creative Networks is a monthly networking event for creative professionals throughout the West Midlands. Regularly attracting between 100 and 200 attendees, Creative Networks provides an excellent opportunity for you to meet and collaborate with like-minded professionals from the West Midlands screen and sound based cluster. The success of Creative Networks can be attributed to its loyal following, informal atmosphere and fresh new ideas for each event... or the free hot food.

West of England Design Forum

Where: West of England
When: Quarterly
Contact: www.wedesignforum.co.uk
The Forum provides a network for designers and other related professionals, and is aimed at employers, employees, the self-employed and students. The Forum acts as a focal point for design information to members and the wider community, engages with other organizations for the benefit of members, educates formally or through informal sharing, provides a proactive voice for the design industry, and links the West of England region with regional, national and international initiatives and organizations.

NESTA

Where: London, plus UK
When: Regular events
Contact: www.nesta.org.uk
NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts is a hotbed of creative and innovative thinking. Working with other agencies and organizations, it is an umbrella for a swathe of networking events that cover everything from digital arts to science and creativity. Events range from networking through to seminars and lectures.

Creative Entrepreneurs Club

Where: Scotland
When: Bi-monthly
Contact: www.creativeentrepreneurs.com
Designers, thinkers, doers, creatives, writers, analysts, stylists, musicians, DJs, gamers, architects and cultural academics – collectively, they represent the membership of the Creative Entrepreneurs Club. The club bring these people together to network, pitch their new ideas, listen to inspiring speakers and showcase their work. It hosts around six networking events each year, and has already attracted in excess of 2,200 members.