It wasn’t long ago that a creative professional in Chattanooga had few employment options. If there was a vibe, there were few jobs and the compromise made the move to Nashville, Atlanta or farther away even more appetizing. Thankfully, that’s less true today, says Caleb Ludwick, a globe-trotting writer and copywriter who moved back to Chattanooga after years away from the city.
“When I moved back to Chattanooga in 2001, it was a fairly bleak scene for young writers,” he says. “There were some good agencies and some good corporate positions, but to a large degree the best option was to leave and pursue fortunes in bigger bergs. Eleven years later, things are very different. Amazing work is being done right here, more writers are involved in generating social good and impacting business than ever before.”
Ludwick is not a native Chattanoogan, but his wife is, and the allure of the city drew the couple back. Today, Ludwick oversees 26 Tools, a branding firm that develops communications platforms, strategies and tools that connect business with creativity. He is also the author of “The First Time She Fell,” a collection of short stories that includes illustrations and designs by current or former Chattanooga artists published earlier this year and profiled by The Pulse in February.
Ludwick is also seeking to unify the Chattanooga creative community—or at least get most of them together in one room on a routine basis.
“There still isn’t a lot of collaboration between writers as a group,” he says. “As someone who has built a career on teaming up with social entrepreneurs, VPs and CEOs, other writers and especially graphic designers, I’d love to see Chattanooga’s best brand thinkers get together more often.”
To that end, Ludwick is speaking on Thursday, May 17, at Gaining Ground, 55 E. Main St., as the guest of the local chapter of the American Institute for Graphic Arts. During his free talk, “Why I’ve Stayed in Chattanooga,” which begins with a beer-aided mixer at 5:30 p.m., Ludwick will share his own advice, philosophy and story with designers and writers. After his presentation, he’ll host an open-ended discussion with participants.
“I’m hoping for some open dialogue about how we, as creatives, can push each other to better work—even when we’re competing for jobs,” he says.
Writers and designers are the twin engines that fuel creative projects in both the public and private sectors, and Ludwick is perhaps the perfect instigator. His topics range from the whimsical to the practical, and he’ll also explain why he turned down two Leadership Chattanooga nominations and a Yale graduate program, all in one half of an hour.
There is little to lose and much to gain from this event. As Ludwick points out, there was once little to meet about in Chattanooga. In a growing creative community, sharing experience and ideas benefits everyone and the opportunity for like minds to interact trumps competition and may even bring financial rewards through collaboration.
If you are a creative professional in Chattanooga, we encourage you to take part in this intriguing event.