Beth Inglish is a visual artist, business coach, marketing whiz and champion of all things artistic. As the founder of the Nashville Creative Group, she rallies folks together around a common mission: “by banding artists together we can influence what happens in the future.” The nurturer by nature has built a career around lifting others up. Once she said, “screw it” and started truly being herself, she tapped into a voice that has guided an entire community.
What’s your biggest life lesson recently?
I am veering away from silencing myself and overcoming the Southern submissiveness that was instilled in me from birth. I spent a lot of my life wondering, If I spoke out would I even be heard?
You’ve organized a community around a central idea, which is artists supporting other artists. How did the Nashville Creative Group get started?
It just kind of happened. A handful of artists started meeting monthly to talk about what it was like to be an artist and navigate the scene. We enjoyed the connections and conversations so much that we took it online to Facebook to expand our reach. Since then we have continued to meet monthly and have built an online and physical community that inspires and supports one another.
Where did the idea to make your platform all about the Nashville creative community come from?
Many of the books I read about creating a network mentioned building a tribe, which really aligned with the type of person that I am—I see someone doing good work and want to help amplify it. When I first moved to Nashville, I was in a group called the Collective Muse, which was a handful of artist friends who met weekly to create together. When our lives took us in different directions and the group stopped meeting, I had the desire to create that community feel again, but never made the move. A friend, painter Jon Stone, was the catalyst who inspired me to take action. In August 2012, I hosted the first Nashville Creative Group at a bar in Green Hills. Soon after, we moved to my condo’s clubhouse and eventually were able to reserve the Emma Bistro space every month.
How did the vision transform over time?
At first, it was artists coming together to talk about their artistic process, which over time, transitioned into bringing in outside speakers and hosting discussions about how our needs were and weren’t being met in the community. Now we meet to “Show & Tell” our work to connect even deeper. It makes the community stronger when we know more about each other’s projects.
What do you think attracted people to the group?
They loved the idea of supporting one another while navigating the waters of an artistic career. Our Facebook Page is a classic example of this—people wanted to connect and share knowledge in between meetings. Today, we have over 4,700 members, which is much larger than I ever envisioned.
How did you become so connected with the institutions, organizations and galleries in Nashville?
I wanted to be at the center of the arts community, so I showed up everywhere. I always believed that you become what you do everyday, which is why I kept plugging away. I lived and breathed the artistic life until finally I no longer felt like I was pretending.
Why do you think your brand evolved so quickly?
I was always looking for someone doing it better than me and used that to raise the bar for myself. I nurtured my existing relationships, strived to do the best possible work and never quit.
Did you have one career objective in mind?
I always wanted to feel legitimate as an artist. I liked the idea of building my own audience, so I wouldn’t have to depend on a gallery to sell work. That audience converted into the Nashville Creative Group and gave me a platform to connect with the community even more. Word of mouth has 100% impacted my business.
How did you become so skilled at selling your art?
By putting myself in uncomfortable situations. For a long time, I lurked in the background at my shows because I was so afraid to talk about my work. Even if I was anxious about sales, I never gave up and kept pushing myself towards making art I loved and connecting the story to my audience.
How has your visual art changed over the years?
Whereas I used to create pieces inspired by my environment, now I am more passionate about expressing my emotions. Even in those moments where I didn’t feel confident in my work, what resonated with me was that I felt good during the process of making it. That switch happened when making art stopped being fun.
Why did it start sucking?
Honestly, I just burned out. That was when I learned how to say “no” and ask for help. I allowed myself space to create for fun without an agenda to sell, which changed my painting process completely.
Did you ever want to say “forget it” and throw in the towel?
No, because I wouldn’t have been doing it if I didn’t enjoy it. Today, I truly enjoy everything that I do because I’m so much better at it. I just love connecting with others over a common passion.
What is your number-one philosophy?
Put things into motion and go with what works.
What makes you great at promoting the work of others?
I have a strong intuition and can feel in my body what it is that I should focus on. I see people for who they are.
What is your ultimate goal for the Nashville arts scene?
I want to empower people to eliminate fear so they can create the best work possible. The power that we have as a group is so much more than an institution could ever create. My mission is to encourage other artists to get out there, meet people in the community, and have a sense of awareness of what’s going on. That context will tell you how to best insert yourself.
How do you stay so laser-focused?
I’ve always worked really hard at everything that I do so I can rise to the top. My drive has changed a lot over time. I used to hold lot of shame, which could be partially silenced if it seemed as though I was doing well. Once I realized that was bullshit, I slowed down and started functioning from a healthier space.
Do you feel more centered, inspired and grounded these days?
Yes. I worry a lot less and take things as they come. I try to balance my artwork and consulting business so I don’t burn out doing either. Plus, I love being around others more than creating in isolation, so balancing my work environment is also very important. Today, I paint for me and work with organizations I choose with a mission similar to my own. My life feels like it’s on the right path.
And what do you get out of it?
Showing people, visually, how to move from struggle to hope. I paint the energy that I feel in that particular place of tension. I’ve been in the dark and also seen the light. While I still struggle, I don’t let the daily obstacles take precedence.