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Meet Tyler Nelson of The Common Collective (Common Collective Media)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tyler Nelson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tyler. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in the greater Seattle area, I always had a passion for creating. Throughout middle school, I would always force my friends to star in my mini movies, and lip syncing music videos. Before I got into film making, my first passion was music. I took piano lessons for about seven years, as well as teaching myself how to play different instruments (guitar, ukulele, drums, saxophone) and playing by ear. I took a few music engineering classes at Cornish School of Arts in Seattle and got into songwriting and music production. I even had the opportunity to perform for my High School graduation ceremony at T-mobile Field (Where the Seattle Mariners play).

However, towards the end of my 8th grade school year, I was diagnosed with Alopecia. Alopecia is an auto-immune disease where your body attacks your own hair follicles. In short, my hair started falling out. This was a very confusing time for me, as I was trying to fit in with my peers and be “normal”, but the Alopecia was making it hard to do so. My confidence took a toll, as I would do everything I could to cover up the balding areas of my head, using various powders, wearing hats, and even considering steroid injections. After talking to my close friends, I eventually decided to shave my entire head, as the Alopecia was starting to effect my whole head, creating bald patches everywhere.

It was tough finding confidence in myself, worrying about how others would view me, thinking of me as “different”. Especially at that age, I was still trying to find who I was and who I wanted to be in this life. The only thing that gave me confidence were my skills and creativity in music, art and film making. I knew I was good at music, and I spent countless hours writing songs and expressing myself through my art. It was not until Sophomore year in college where I think I finally accepted myself for who I was, and thought “If I accept myself for who I am, then everyone around me will too”. This was a huge revelation for me, feeling weight coming off of my shoulders and finally having the emotional freedom to “be myself”.

I went on to attend Washington State University where I pursued music more than ever. I wrote raps, made beats, and dropped a project of songs I have made within my 1st and 2nd year of college and had the opportunity to perform them at WSU’s “Battle of the Bands”. I even had a Youtube video I uploaded hit over 87,000 views. It was a cover to a Russ song, “losing control” I sang, which I remade the instrumental using my music production equipment.

During my time in college, I had a tough time deciding on what to major in, as I didn’t know what I wanted to do after I graduated. I saw all of my peers major in fields such as “Business marketing” and “Communications” and I felt pressured to find something that would “get me a good job”, even though I was not exactly interested in those fields. After talking with my counselor, I switched my major from Communications to Digital Technology and Culture (DTC). A lot of the classes involved creating things in different forms of media, analyzing trends in technology, and using that to differentiate target audiences. At this time I had a basic DSLR video camera and shot all my videos and photos on that.

I went on to win an award from the director of my major, for a short film I made my junior year of college. The award was for “Best Short Narrative Film” for a film I made in one of my classes for an end of the year project. I then shifted all my energy into film making and spent all my time watching tutorials on youtube on how to edit videos in certain software and using different effects and tools within Adobe Premiere. Some of my favorite influences and role models in the world of videography are Sam Kolder, Jakob Owens, and LoneWolf. This was a time where Travel Videos were popular, and music videos were evolving into more complicated visual effects. I was amazed by these Youtubers making a living just creating videos on youtube, and having the freedom to create whatever they wanted. I knew thats what I wanted to do as a career, but didn’t know how to exactly start. My senior year of attending WSU, I got an internship at the Carson College of Business on campus and did graphic design for various departments in the school of Business. I also had the opportunity to work in the Video Production department for the School of Business, creating promotional videos and creative content.

When time came for graduation, I was in a bit of a panic, as I didn’t have a job lined up after college. It’s tough finding a job in “Video production” or any sort of Video related field, as they require a lot of experience, or they are very scarce. I settled with a warehouse job in the meantime as a way to make money while I looked for an actual career.

A year went by and I was still at the warehouse. I was getting very discouraged, worried I would stay working at this warehouse for the rest of my life. I had many skills and talents, but for some reason had difficulty finding the “right job” for me.

I then met a music producer that one of my friends introduced me to who worked for one of the recording studios in downtown Seattle. We clicked right away and connected me with a lot of local Seattle Hip hop artists that were looking for cheap music videos. Eventually, I filmed my first ever paid music video gig. I only charged the artist $215 for everything. Including shooting, editing, and all of the miscellaneous things needed (memory cards, storage for computer, lenses, etc.).

From then I went on to gain a couple of new music video clients, gradually upping my price. I went charging $215 to $600 and they loved my work so they would happily pay that price. I went on to buy my first 4k Video Camera and slowly invested in more professional gear and accessories, such as stabilizers, drones, editing packs for Adobe, etc.

I was getting booked for weddings, and other Seattle events such as the Bite of Seattle, and OctoberFestNW. It was an amazing feeling freelancing and creating on the side, as I still worked for the warehouse. As I gained more and more work with my freelancing, I cut back my hours at the warehouse to 3 days a week. However, the warehouse I was working at hit a slow season and had to let go of a lot of part-time workers. Since I was only working three days a week, they had to let me go. It was a pretty tough situation since they didn’t give me any prior notice or warning. They just let me go out of the blue. I was now faced with the reality of having to maintain an income through my freelance gigs. As nervous as I was, it gave me no option but to put all of my effort and time into gaining new video clients and marketing myself anyway I could.

I registered myself as a small business under the name “The Common Collective” and continued to gain more clients in the Seattle area.

My girlfriend and I decided to move to San Diego, just to experience new things (plus we were getting tired of the Seattle weather).

Since then I have worked with Fitness influencers from LA, creating video content for them. I also have connected with the San Diego community and am gaining new music video clients.

I currently freelance full-time and spend most of my days looking to improve my skills.

There have definitely been highs and lows in my journey of being a creator. The scariest thing is not having a steady income… but no matter how much I wonder if pursuing these creative ambitions is worth the constant burning stress of scrapping for rent every month, the answer is always YES.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A HUGE struggle I faced was being diagnosed with Alopecia. As hair was gradually falling out of my head, it was hard finding confidence in myself, especially at the young age of 14. My parents both worked most of the day, so my grandma (on my moms side) lived with us and took care of me growing up. She developed Alzheimer’s when I was in middle school, and I think that was also very hard on me. I think of my grandma as my 2nd mom, since she has been taking care of me for most of my life when my parents were at work. She declined rapidly, had a stroke and gradually lost her ability to speak. Even though she was still here physically, she was fading out of my life. It was hard to see.

Apart from my grandma declining, I had a hard time finding my identity, as I was always worried of what people thought of me from the Alopecia. It got in the way of me having the freedom to be myself and took focus from who I wanted to be in life.

Another struggle was the fear of expectation from my parents. I was the first in my family to graduate college, and I think my mom was more excited than I was.. But, instead of finding a “Career” working in a cubicle, I chose to pursue being a freelancer, and essentially working for myself. And I think my mom wasn’t too happy with that decision, just because she was worried about how I would be able to support myself financially, as well as missing out on company benefits right away. It’s just an unpredictable path to go down, but I think that is what keeps me working hard. Knowing that I don’t have a set steady income pushes me to work hard and take advantage of every opportunity I have to create and connect with my community.

The Common Collective (Common Collective Media) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I run a Videography / Photography company “The Common Collective” / “Common Collective Media”

I specialize in more urban/street promotional content such as music videos, clothing and apparel, fitness and lifestyle videos. I have done several weddings and have been contracted to do a few corporate videos, however my main focus is creating for the local community. Creating for those who may not have that big of a platform already. Or if they do, helping them gain a bigger audience. My favorite gigs are music videos or live shows because they give me the creative freedom to create whatever I want. The collaboration the artist and I have is always fun.

What I’m most proud of is being able to create for the community and give a platform for those who may not have one yet. Or helping those that have a platform already reach more of an audience. I love working with musicians because it’s like I’m helping them tell a story through their music. Helping create a narrative from their art, and I think that’s super cool.

My dream would be to film HUGE artists performing on stage, at big festivals, making video recaps and photos, maybe even making short films about artists that I love.

What sets me apart from others is my variety in skill set. With my heavy background in music, I am able to breakdown music gigs easier and help the artist tell their story by being able to put myself in their shoes, in a technical aspect. For example, with my music production experience, I know what parts of the song would be appropriate with different styles of editing, or even helping dissect lyrical meaning and translating that into visuals. With my art background (I minored in Fine Art in College) I am able to experiment with different mediums to create abstract videos and effects. Such as animations and implementing hand-drawn art into my video editing.

I’m sure a lot of creators have humble backgrounds, but I believe because of my Alopecia, it has made me open to different perspectives. I have more of a desire to get to know my clients, making sure I tell the best possible story I can for them.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is never about how much money your business makes, but the impact you have on a community and yourself as a person. In the world of creators, many of them may be overlooked due to the fact that they haven’t gotten a lot of exposure, but there are many that are JUST as talented as ones in the mainstream media that may not even have been heard of.

Ultimately, success is being happy with yourself and being proud of your work. Being proud of what you create and having the desire to improve and get better.

Success is creating a positive impact for your community, big or small, and continuously moving forward in achieving your own goals. Success is conquering your fears and putting yourself out there, knowing that you WILL fail many times, but you also WILL succeed many times and growing from each experience.

In other words, success is also how you handle moving forward. It doesn’t have to be fast, but slowly progressing towards your goals as a business is success in my book.

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