We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe Barrette and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
It started with a love of comics. My wife came from a background in libraries where she was a strong advocate for using comics to promote literacy and engagement in education. One of the most useful tools she used for reluctant readers and those finding their way back into casual reading were graphic novels as they provided a gateway into complex literary themes blended with captivating visuals that kept the reader engaged. I myself came from a writing background and spent years creating stories and found the visual medium of comics to be incredibly entertaining and one of my favorite formats to write for. We shared ideas and we were given an opportunity to bring together educators, creators and aspiring industry professionals at WonderCon 2019 for a roundtable discussion about the comics world, how to use comics as educational tools and give inspiration to those looking to start their own graphic novels. It was a huge success and brought back for San Diego Comic Con 2019. From those conversations we discovered how many artists struggled to not just to find work but to really understand what avenues were available to them and that many educators had no idea the effectiveness of comics in the classroom and libraries or how to start using them. We had the knowledge and network to help people. While assisting and guiding at conferences was rewarding, people had a need for opportunities year round and we had the resources to help. This project was on the backburner until COVID hit. We went into lockdown with an idea and came out with a fully developed non-profit, Creators Assemble! Our model is currently online and networking and, while that was not the original idea, we found ourselves to be extremely adaptable and have provided more help than we could have dreamed in our inaugural year.
What should our readers know about your business?
Creators Assemble is a passion project that gives us a chance to help so many. With our first year we were able to assist The San Diego African American Museum of Fine Art and California LGBT Arts Alliance with our first charity e-book, benefit Make-A-Wish® San Diego and a handful of Wish Kids with our Holiday Heroes project of creating comic portraits of kids as superheroes and guide, support and amplify new creative voices with our monthly Limelight feature. This was a lot of work for our first year while we were trying to get our feet established but it’s reward has been immeasurable. In the upcoming years we look forward to launching our mentorship program, continuing our Professional Spotlight series for pop culture career guidance as well as releasing our first educators toolkit which will give teachers and librarians the tips, statistics and materials to help get comics into their libraries and classrooms. We are also looking forward to expanding our vision beyond just the comics world as we have always felt pop culture in itself can be a strong learning tool for so many when wielded properly. The future of creativity is bright and we want to make sure to harness as much of it as we can and propel it into the future.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Being near San Diego there is an endless amount of things to be able to do. One of my personal favorites is to pop over and catch a Padre game over at Petco Park. Once the game is over you are in the heart of the Gaslamp District and have a countless options for dining though I am very partial to Rei Do Gado Brazilian Steak House. If you aren’t looking to eat that heavy then pop over to Serrano’s for a burrito. A day at the beach in north county is great and Oceanside is always a blast. Near the pier you can always head over to Panels which is a perfect combination of coffee bar and comic shop. For the historical and haunted side of things you can’t miss head over to the Hotel Del Coronado as well. You can eat like a king, hunt for some ghosts and relax on the beach.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife and I have been married for thirteen years and while she calls me her rock, she has been my guiding star the entire way. It’s been her encouragement and fire that has brought us this far in our lives and I would truly be lost without her.