Or "Brought a camera, had a few drinks... next thing I know I'm at MAGFest."
It's a bit strange how myself and some people I've worked with just kind of launched ourselves into certain nerd communities. And not entirely intentionally. When we started out it was we just wanted to cover something really cool but also challenge ourselves on how we did it. What none of us really expected to happen was how surprised those first members of these groups we met were about what we were doing. For us it was an experiment but I think for others there was a level of appreciation for going a bit further and caring about what we were doing. And that led us to being involved in more and more things.
With smartphones, quality cameras at lower price points, and social media documentation of these spaces is a lot easier. But there's a distinct difference between "documentation" and "representation". And over the years I've put a lot more energy into the "representaion" piece. A lot of that stems from the fact that I know a lot of people aren't aware of these scenes and the people within them may not have a larger presence within the general nerd audience driven primarily by the niche they may work in. If I click with a particular person or group's work then there's an already established interest level for me. And with that the challenge for me to try to help represent who they are.
One thing that I think really helps in that challenge is trying to find new talent. Within that there are a lot of possibilities to expand upon your knowledge and your work. Especially if there's some facet where you may not be entirely familiar. Being in the Austin area (and Texas in general) there is a lot of that out there. But on the other hand because there is so much going on sometimes finding them does bring in the 'being in the right place at the right time' factor to it. The thing that has helped me with this is being very aware of the situation I'm in. And if something resonates with me... I just go for it. At a minimum just get on their radar. It may not always pan out. But the important thing is recognizing and taking steps forward.
Something I've noticed in some larger nerd scenes is the chase for "big names". To me this is a disservice to those scenes in a number of ways:
1: Some of those names are heavily represented already. So unless you can absolutely bring something new to the table then you are just a drop in a very large bucket.
2: In a lot of cases the chase is driven by the idea to get a large pop on social media. This gives you tunnel vision which can hinder you as an artist.
3: That same tunnel vision keeps you from recognizing others that may have a same level of talent but maybe nowhere near the presence. Or even worse not recognizing something just makes you go "Hey wait... there's something here. Let's do something with this."
4: With missing the "click moment" you can lose an opportunity that may lead to something that will bring you and whoever you are working with forward in those scenes.
5: Without those opportunities the representation of that space has a higher chance of staying stagnant and that's never a good thing.
There's a lot of chances out there within the nerd communities to collaborate and produce good work. But it's on you to be cognizant of those chances. And by laying the groundwork and caring about the subjects you're helping to represent is what leads to bigger opportunities. All because you gave a damn about everything that came before it.
And the one thing that will help overall?
Give a damn about your art.