I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing photographer Chase Jarvis, the visionary force behind creativeLIVE. CreativeLIVE is one of the largest (if not the largest) creative online classrooms in the world. creativeLIVE offers free education in photography, web design, business management, filmmaking and much more.
The idea behind creativeLIVE was the result of Chase and long-time friend, Craig Swanson, brainstorming over the course of eight consecutive Sundays back in 2009. What you see today when you venture over to creativeLIVE's site is an amazing array of online classes that encompasses their vision of providing exceptional classes taught by leading experts in their field.
All courses on CL are offered free when they first air. After the first airing the classes can be purchased for a very reasonable price. Each course that has been purchased by a user can be replayed indefinitely and often includes added course material that the instructor has provided for paying students. The beauty of creativeLIVE is the student can watch a class live before buying. As a perpetual student I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity to view a class to see if it fulfills a requirement I might have. For me the ability to log into my account and review a portion of a class for a specific detail or to grab a handout for information is incredible and invaluable.
Q: What were the factors in your life that lead to being in a creative field?
Chase: My parents were phenomenal. I was an only child and my parents always encouraged my love of discovery and creativity. They provided opportunities for me to learn and develop my creative side. As an only child I was encouraged to be creative and then when dinnertime came I was encouraged to talk about my day to adults. Yet when it came to my teen years I had to reconcile the notion of a traditional and socially "acceptable" job like doctor or engineer with that of being a creative. I got accepted into a college on a soccer scholarship so I was a creative, athletic person.
Q: How did you reconcile being an athlete and a creative person?
Chase: The ability to reconcile came gradually. The pressure of friends and family always emphasized a 'stable' job as an engineer, lawyer or doctor. But I was a creative locked in a jock's body and on the path to entering medical school in college. I ended up getting a PhD in Art Philosophy. Back then being in a creative field was almost taboo and someone in that line of work was viewed as being on the outside. But at some point I was able to understand I could be both, and that I could be in a creative field. When I did break through those barriers I did not find a lot of people willing to open up and share their knowledge. I told myself that if I was ever in a position to change this that I would.
Q: How did creativeLIVE come about? What was the impetus?
Chase: After getting a formal degree I went to the school of hard knocks as I learned about photography. As I gained that knowledge I chose to provide what I learned online and give it away so others could benefit. Suddenly people began to take notice and pay attention [referring to ChaseJarvis.com]. Along the way I met Craig Swanson, a tech guru. Being of like minds and appreciating our love of learning, we knew this was a way we could give back and provide a platform for learning in a casual, social and engaging setting. Skill-based education is best learned and discovered in this manner. Where else would you go to school to get this type of hands-on, quality education? After having gone through a formal PhD program I knew I did not have to get another degree from an institution. I wanted a skill-based, real-life education. And that's what creativeLIVE offers. We have Pulitzer Prize winning authors as teachers, and award winning educators from other walks of life.
Q: Were your parents in a creative field?
Chase: My dad was a cop and my mom was an administrator at a biotech firm. They were not in a creative field. They were creative people but were told their whole lives that they were not and were never encouraged to follow their dreams. A few years ago I handed my mom an iPhone with my camera app [Best Camera app]. She quickly showed me just how creative she is and today she is an incredible photographer. My dad always took photos of me and my friends doing sports and I always remember being fascinated with the gear and stories from those images. That's where my passion for photography started.
Q: Where do you see the education system and 'how we learn' moving in the future?
Chase: We're saddling our future generation with school debt (on average about $30K) and the notion that a college degree guarantees a good paying job. It's not the case anymore. The future is not about the same old-type of education. What if we can give them what is the natural state of a human which is to be creative. Creativity is not just limited to just art, drawing and photography. There are classes on business, health and fitness. Creativity is in every sphere and all facets of learning. Our current system stifles that.
Creativity is the most important part of being a human being. Cultivating creativity and pursuing your passion, putting extra energy into what success means to you, it becomes a non issue how you get that education. You're pursuing the thing that you want most in the world and that's what matters. I would go a step further and say that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Are you spending time with people who are what you want to be, who are creative, changing lives, making the world a better place, doing what you love? If not you should be. creativeLIVE is here to change that. Ask yourself 'What would you have to do TODAY to change that?'
Q: Where's creativeLIVE today?
Chase: Today we are in 200 countries reaching over several Million students and I feel like we are just getting started. We have been making money since day ONE. I don't want to jinx it but I think it's working [me: it is!].
Chase: From my point of view, it is what I want education to look like for future generations. Learning is not broken, our educational system is broken. To expect kids to fit in to a system that was built during the agricultural era and the days of working at the factory is antiquated. It's just not the future. The future is skill based and self-directed. I understand there is value in a degree but certainly the future is not going to remain the same if we are to succeed. Let's look forward on how we are going to get our future generations to succeed. [creativeLIVE] is getting experts 50 deep willing to share their knowledge with the world. These are the "Do-ers"who are an important part of what I want successive generations to have in their education experience. creativeLIVE is connecting the best educators in the world with the people who want to learn from them. creativeLIVE is connecting the technology and the people to create an incredible learning platform.
Q: What's the unexpected thing that has happened to you from creativeLIVE?
Chase: It wasn't that long ago that Craig and I were sitting in a room with our feet on the coffee table talking about our idea of creating a spark in the way people learn. It didn't take long and that spark has caught fire. Today we had millions (note: I am not at liberty to disclose the exact number, but let's just say a major TV network would love their numbers) tuning in to join our Photoshop Week. We are listening to what our viewers want to see and learn. The surprising or unexpected thing in all of this to see is that that little spark of an idea has caught fire. [I'd say it is a wildfire!] What we thought might be a little impact to change the world, has impacted millions of people. That feeling, that is something I will always cherish.
We are breaking new ground, I just thank my lucky stars for sure.
To see the schedule of Photoshop Week on creativeLIVE see below. Be sure to tune in every day this week and purchase those classes that interest you the most. From first hand experience I can tell you every course I have purchased has been worthwhile. I can rewatch at my convenience and delve into exactly what I need based on a given work situation. By the way, I watched Khara Pilcanic's class today on "Getting Up Close and Personal with Brushes." It was fantastic. The things you learn by looking over someone's shoulder is worth every penny.
For more on creativeLIVE like their Facebook Page.