2016 Grantee Profile: The Wave Runners

The Wave Runners are surfing the millennial trend of Internet sensations. A self-described “entrepreneurial initiative”, the program was established for motivated youth artists looking to express their creativity through Instagram and YouTube videos.

The idea organically grew along the life path of a group of friends, “We’re always together – they’re actually in my basement right now” Sampreeth, one of the programs creators, laughs, “we’ve always been involved with making videos and doing creative things outside of school, and have felt like there is a lot to be said about it.”

The crew recognized through their own personal journeys, that the pathway to success isn’t always linear, “I’ve watched as it’s been hard for my friends with undergrad degrees to find jobs. Personally, I majored in physics; but, after completing school, I didn’t want to do the physics things again. I wanted to figure out how to make my artistic pursuits, which were limited in school, a career.”

Since leaving school, Sampreeth has become a freelance artist, “there’s been a slow construction of a business that I’ve (been forced to) build as a creative person”. The way he sees it, creativity consists as a duality between formation of art and entrepreneurial business, “You have to find a niche for where your talents can fit into society. Wave Runners takes a cool approach to teaching film, and being imaginative in that sense; and, teaching entrepreneurial skills, so you can be innovative in that sense.”

At the surface level, Wave Runners provides technical software, equipment and space, but the magic lies in the possibility for relationship building, “it’s about networking and that person to person connection.   It’s about motivation, collaboration, and innovation. Convincing others to collaborate with you is the very essence of leadership and entrepreneurship. A good leader is someone that can make someone else believe in their vision. By collaborating with one another, we’re mentoring one another.”

Collaboration may begin in the space, but it stretches far beyond the walls, “Once (youth) figure out who they want to work with, we contact them directly. We send out emails and simply ask to meet. In fact, sending an email asking, “Hey! Would you like to get a coffee?” is how I’ve gotten a lot of my jobs. Moreover, with Wave Runners, we’re able to use our collective identity as a form of legitimacy. People are much more receptive to an assembly of (artists) doing community work.” The creative and collaborative networking process that initiates within the space wholesomely builds itself.

Sampreeth explained to us how ArtReach adds to the collective, “Some people might say that the best part of obtaining the grant is the space, the mentors, or the tokens that the money can buy you; but, there’s this whole other hidden gem that being affiliated with ArtReach gets you. Receiving the grant says, ‘We’re working with ArtReach and they believe in us and you should, too.’ It’s how we’ve found a lot of support. It’s a form of legitimacy and not just a monetary source.”

He went on, “I see it as a launching platform for so many other things. As the first step in a long line of things to come, it’s an election platform. Next year, I could apply for a TAC community grant or Laidlaw funding that might have been harder to get since you need a few projects under your belt already. ArtReach is the perfect place to start that off. I don’t think any of these grants would be available to us without the grant from ArtReach. It’s a huge investment in our growth and our potential for the future.”

All we have to say is, we’re happy to ride the Wave!

Author: Cassey Andrews