While PATTERN has been around for ten years, there is usually some confusion about who we are and what we do. In part it has to do with the fact that there’s nothing quite like PATTERN out there. We keep trying to find our twin in the universe, but so far, PATTERN is a unicorn. A 501c3 non profit that is a media company, a creative agency, a print publication, a talent incubator, an economic development engine rolled into one groovy community building platform. It’s a lot, right? We do a LOT. So it’s natural to think that we have a huge, well-funded operation. We do not.
Below is a range of Frequently Asked Questions that will hopefully help you begin wrapping your brain around who we are, what we do, and why/how you might want to be a part of our ever growing community.
A big thank you to uber talented graphic designer Megan Gray (past Creative Fellow!) who created the infographics below to help explain PATTERN better. If you still have questions, please comment below or contact us directly and we’ll be happy to explain further! Buckle up!
What is PATTERN? A 501c3 non-profit, public charity.
What is PATTERN’s mission? To grow the local creative economy and provide a platform for creative expression for up-and-coming creatives of all kinds, but especially in the areas of fashion, photography, graphic design, digital & social media, art, and music. Our goal is to keep Indiana talent in Indiana.
How many employees does PATTERN have? PATTERN has zero full-time paid employees. Our Executive Director is full-time and unsalaried. PATTERN has three part-time Creative Fellows who receive small stipends.
Who runs PATTERN? PATTERN’s day-to-day activities are managed by our Executive Director, Polina Osherov. A little known fact is that Polina is a first generation immigrant, born in Soviet Russia. She and her family moved to the United States by way of Australia when she was 20. Polina is not paid for her work at PATTERN. It is truly a labor of love. She is actually a professional photographer and that’s how she makes a living. She answers to a Board of Directors. She does not own PATTERN. Polina personally mentors 20+ interns and Fellows every year. Under her supervision, these young people help run PATTERN and create most of the content you see shared on PATTERN social media channels. PATTERN also relies heavily on help from dozens of volunteers and contributors.
Is PATTERN a full-time operation? Sort of. The core team plus the interns work together out of the PATTERN office two times a week. The rest of the time the interns and the Fellows are either in school or working their other jobs. PATTERN is a full time project for Polina who is a self-confessed workaholic. She spends about 40 hours a week on PATTERN, and another 40 on her other two jobs. Yup. She’s a little insane.
Wow! You guys sure get a lot done all things considered! Yup. We know! We’re passionate about what we do, and Polina is a project management ninja, keeping everything and everyone running smoothly. Even so, we still can’t get EVERYTHING done, so if we don’t respond to every DM or email, this is part of the reason why. We get to the other part of the reason below.
How can I work with PATTERN? There are several ways that people can take advantage of the programs and resources that PATTERN offers. The infographic below will help explain. We’ve broken out levels of your involvement based on where you are in your professional journey.
If you are….
I DM’d/emailed you guys and no one got back to me. What gives? As you’ve hopefully gathered from the above information, we are a very small team, working part-time, and mostly unpaid with other jobs and things like families and classes to stay on top of. We have A LOT of people reaching out to us all the time. It’s impossible for us to respond to everyone. If you’re emailing to see if you can get featured, or how you can work with us, you can increase your odds of a response if you follow some simple guidelines:
- Email us rather than sending a DM. Info@patternindy.com. We also have a really comprehensive “Contact us” page that will help direct you to the right person on our team.
- Introduce yourself, and be clear about what it is you’re asking. Help us understand quickly why we should work with you over the other fifty people asking the same thing.
- Send a link to your music/art/work…if you want to be featured but don’t include a link to your portfolio, you’re not going to get a response.
- Show us that you’ve actually done some homework about our organization and what we do. A generic-sounding pitch is not going to get a response.
What is your editorial process for who gets featured in the print issues of PATTERN? As you can imagine we cannot possibly feature everyone and everything, and have to be very picky. Stories are selected by weighing a combination of factors such as timing, relevance to current events, theme of the issue, aesthetic fit, a person’s accomplishments, and space availability among many others. Polina, who is not only the Executive Director, but also wears the hat of the Editor-in-Chief, along with the editorial team and contributors are very proactive about soliciting recommendations and feedback from people in all different corners of the Indy community to ensure that we cast a wide net when looking for people to feature.
While only a lucky few make it into print, we do our absolute best to lift up as many local creatives as we can through our digital magazine, and our weekly Creative of The Week instagram story feature. Over the past decade, we have given exposure to over three thousand different creatives through a combination of print, digital and events.
I have an idea for a program or an event that I think PATTERN should do that I’d like to share. How do I do that? We love hearing about your ideas for programs, events, exhibits and whatever else tickles your fancy! Some of your ideas might be things we’ve already tried, some might already be in the works, yet others are new to us, and we’d love to bring them to fruition. Here’s the thing though: We’re swamped. Between publishing a bi-annual magazine, creating content for our multiple social media channels and digital magazine, planning existing events, as well as coordinating, SUPPLY, St’Artup317 and StitchWorks, we do NOT have any capacity for additional programming at this time. That’s what happens when you don’t have full-time staff. Insert sad face.
So that means that if you have an idea that you think PATTERN should get behind, and you want to pitch it to us, you need to come prepared to explain how YOU personally plan on investing your time and energy to bring that idea to life. Your direct involvement is about the only thing that will make it possible for us to seriously consider your proposal. As Polina can be overheard saying quite frequently, “Ideas are not the problem – we’ve got hundreds of ideas ourselves. The problem is the lack of manpower and resources to execute!”
How come you guys don’t pay your contributors? In a nutshell? We don’t have the funds to do it. While it appears that PATTERN is highly profitable based on the high equity of the PATTERN brand, we are operating in a city where consumers prefer to spend on dining and sports, more than they do on arts and culture. Similarly, the support for the arts from local public and private sectors is deprioritized in favor of more “safe” economic sectors like life sciences or tech. The fact that PATTERN is still in existence after all this time is nothing short of a miracle. Nothing would give us more joy than to be able to pay everyone who works with us, and we are daily working towards that goal. We are beyond grateful to everyone who has donated their time and skills to help us amplify the collective voice of all of Indy’s creators.
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION
Recently, we’ve also had some questions about who our community encompasses, as well as our diversity and inclusion policies, and we want to be totally transparent about that as well.
Do you have an official diversity and inclusion policy? Diversity has always been a part of our DNA, so we’ve never seen the need to have an official policy. However, given recent events, we would like to go on record and share the following:
PATTERN stands in solidarity with Black communities and protesters in denouncing racial injustice. We honor the lives of so many who have been unjustly killed by racial violence.
We commit to even greater equity, empathy, and justice across our programs, operations, and workplace to dismantle systemic racism. We renew our pledge to:
- Call out transgressions and question colleagues on words and actions that are casually and overtly racist.
- Champion a proactive, vocal, and practical approach to anti-racism.
- Make sure that our Board of Directors is diverse and balanced, and that their opinions are listened to and actioned.
- Be more inclusive in all programming.
We promise to pursue this ongoing work with vulnerability and courage. Black lives matter.
Do you have any black or minority employees? Yes, and no. As mentioned above, PATTERN does not have any employees. However, our current part-time, core team consisting of the Executive Director, and three Creative Fellows is 50% black.
If you’re a numbers person, you might be interested to know that historically out of 93 interns who have participated in our program to date (Summer 2020), 19 (20%) were/are African American, and 7(7.5%) were/are Latinx/Asian/Other. Our Creative Fellowship, which has hosted 10 Fellows to date, has had an all female crew, with 30% of Fellows being African American.
Keep in mind that the interns rotate in and out every 3 months, and every class of interns looks different in terms of diversity. We rely heavily on word of mouth for our internship program to get promoted, so the intern class is a reflection of who applies.
Creative Fellows are usually “on staff” between 1-2 years, and so far all have been past interns.
It’s important to note that in bringing in interns and hiring Fellows we look for the best and most promising talent. Diversity is always on our minds, but we would never hire someone purely based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Our goal is to promote excellence, and we’ve been very fortunate to help support and elevate a very diverse group of excellent creative talent.
What about your print and digital magazine? Do you have any contributors who are non-white? Of course! From writers, photographers, make up artists, models to the actual subjects of our stories, people of color and particularly black creatives make up close to a combined 40% of our contributors and written stories. You can see a list of regular contributors here. Keep in mind that the list is not comprehensive – there have been dozens and dozens of people over the years. With our limited capacity it’s been hard to keep this list updated. If you’d like to see our inclusive mindset first-hand, please check out our digital magazine, or view past volumes of the print issue online, here.
What about leadership? Who helps drive decision-making at PATTERN? Our Board of Directors currently has 10 members, 60% of whom are female. From 2016-2019, we had two board members who were African-American; one stepped down at the end of 2019, and we were in the midst of recruiting someone to replace her when COVID happened. We are currently actively engaged in pursuing some non-white candidates, and hope to have two more non-white board members fill positions by 2021. Please check back here and keep us accountable.
Where else in your organization do people of color have a chance to participate? Glad you asked! Our newest program, StitchWorks is a project that we’re doing in partnership with Indiana Fashion Week, whose Executive Director Denisha Dlang is African American and also happens to be the StitchWorks Space Manager. Here’s a link to the full list of our leadership over at StitchWorks. Our creative team for SUPPLY is 83% African American. Check them out here. For our St’Artup317 program, over 60% of participants in the program are black, and our selection committee which chooses the program participants is also 40% African American.
I’ve heard that PATTERN is only featuring black creatives to profit from the black culture, is that true? Considering that 95% of all the content we create is done by volunteers, interns and Creative Fellows, 20-30% of whom are black, the fact that we can’t afford full-time paid staff, and that we depend on grants and donations to keep doing what we’re doing, that’s unlikely to be the case. Our mission is to provide a platform for creatives of all races, genders, gender orientations and ethnicities. Our goal is to elevate and showcase the most interesting people and events within the local culture.
We charge for the magazine, and participation in our events and programs, but that is purely so we can pay for basic operating expenses like rent, printing costs, supplies, insurance, etc. We “make” just enough to keep the lights on.
What exactly is PATTERN’s core narrative? While PATTERN’s leadership and audience is primarily white, PATTERN was created by a handful of diverse fashion professionals and lovers who saw a better future for their small businesses and for the city overall. The narrative has always been about elevating Indy’s creatives in an equitable and inclusive way. We proudly stand by the facts – which is that PATTERN is one of the most diverse, and inclusive cultural organizations in Central Indiana under white leadership.
WHY SUPPORT US?
Every year, PATTERN directly impacts over several hundred creatives, creative small businesses and brands through it’s programs and by creating opportunities for exposure and connections via it’s social media channels and print publications. No other organization in Indianapolis, offers the type of unique programming that supports up-and-coming creatives the way we do.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Arts, culture, and, creative industries, and their activities and products, are key resources and incubators of creativity. Individuals working in arts and creative industries create new cultural, intellectual, and economic opportunities and innovations. Additionally, jobs are generated for people who supply materials and service needs, and present and distribute creative work. While Indianapolis is home to a number world-class arts and cultural institutions, it lags significantly behind peer cities in supporting and investing in its grassroots creative culture – the very thing that livability experts say make a city “sticky”. PATTERN is among a handful of organizations standing in the gap of a resource desert fighting daily to make sure that the voices of our community, are heard, and we need your help!
If you’re still with us, thank you for allowing us to shed some light on who we are and what we’re about. If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of PATTERN, we invite you to engage with our team directly. We always welcome radically honest, face-to-face conversations with members of our community to help all of us be and do better. Onward!