Three UNO students form creative alliance: the Broccoli Creative Collective


Kamrin Baker

Photo courtesy of Broccoli Omaha

What do you get when you cross three passionate content creators with a competitive and lucrative landscape that often neglects the work of young, Midwestern talent? In the case of Mavericks Simon Clark (a junior studying creative media), Corbin Schmidt (a senior IT innovation) and Brianna Price (a junior studying public relations), it seems like the answer is in the produce section.

Broccoli is a creative collaborative group that focuses on sharing the work of young creative entrepreneurs connecting artists with one another. The group premiered their launch video on Instagram in November of 2018, and from there, the project began to take form.

Because these three founders are the masterminds behind the mission, I figured their story would be best shared in their own words.

Answers edited for length and clarity.

Kamrin Baker: First of all, why the name Broccoli?

Simon Clark: So, we have two answers for this question. The on-paper-deeper-meaning answer is that the name and symbol of Broccoli symbolizes growth, or branches from the broccoli connecting artists. Maybe the branches look like a brain or a cloud, so you can take your pick. The real answer is that we, for the life of us, could not come up with a name for the concept. We spent weeks trying to think of the right fit, so finally I asked my dad (who owns Clark Creative Group and is very good at these things) what we should call it. He told me, ‘Simon, when clients ask me to give them a name for their company, their project, their brand, I used to always jokingly tell them, just call it Broccoli!’

I said, ‘Why Broccoli?’ and he told me, ‘Because, the name doesn’t matter. It is the meaning, identity, the definition that you craft around the name that gives it significance. And that stuck with me.

After that conversation with my dad, we called the project ‘Codename: Broccoli’ for a few months while we tried to think of something better. In the end, the name grew on us. We liked the uniqueness of it, the intrigue, and ended up sticking with it. We got in touch with a great graphic designer out of Toronto, Canada who made our wonderful logo, and after seeing that, we knew we made the right choice.

Simon Clark. Photo courtesy of Simon Clark

Brianna Price: The name was first suggested at our first meeting. Simon asked me how I enjoyed studying abroad in Broccoli (meaning Brussels, which I didn’t study abroad in either…) and we had a good laugh about it. We came up with things like CreativeCollective, OmahaArtistry, OmahaCreatives, but we didn’t find them that unique or attention-grabbing and we hope to expand to other cities someday.

KB: What exactly does Broccoli do?

Corbin Schmidt: The goal of Broccoli is to promote local art. We wanted to provide a platform for artists to show off their work. UNO students can visit our Instagram page and submit their artwork to us! We love to see new local art and love sharing it with the community, but the most important part of it is engagement. Engagement with the artists on Broccoli’s page creates the inclusive community Broccoli set out to nurture.

BP: Reiterating what our mission statement says, Broccoli is a free platform designed to connect, promote and grow an inclusive community for local creatives. An issue we see happen in a lot of communities is how competitive creatives get about each other’s work. In other words, there’s a lot of competition where creatives in putting down others content in order to promote their own. We wanted this platform to be inclusive where everyone’s work is valued and appreciated, where creatives from every background can support the work of other local creatives.

We also know how expensive and hard it can be to promote the content creatives create, so we wanted a platform that’s free for anyone to submit their work and have it showcased. Lastly, a lot of creatives sometimes need the help of other creatives to work on projects. (a photographer needing a model, a creative business needing a graphic designer, a band needing a guitarist, etc.) so this platform can be a way for creatives to connect and work together!

Brianna Price. Photo courtesy of Brianna Price.

SC: Someone once described the idea of Broccoli to me as a ‘digital art gallery,’ and I really liked that. Broccoli is more than a social media account; it’s an idea, a mindset. Any time you see a piece of art, music, dancing, photography– you name it– we encourage you to support that artist, give their work a chance, like the post, share it, comment some encouragement. Support local art. Share when local bands perform, go to their shows, go to the art galleries, share the events.

KB: What is your involvement in Broccoli, and how did you reach this point in your creative journey?

SC: The concept of Broccoli was an idea I was sitting on for a while. I’d say my involvement in Broccoli, aside from creating it, is more of a management position. We hired an intern, Brianna, to handle the social media, freeing up myself to focus on work for my production company, Clark & Schmidt Studios, to keep the money coming in to support running Broccoli. Though I was heavily involved in the branding, naming, logo design, and launch, now I merely help organize events, oversee growth and the work Bri is doing.

With my production company, I write, direct, shoot and edit a wide variety of projects. We do commercials, music videos, documentaries, etc. I also do a lot of the ‘back end’ work like talking to clients, budgeting projects and organizing shoots. A lot of these skills lend themselves well to running Broccoli. I can use those skills to create media and promos for Broccoli, organize and budget events, and connect artists in the Omaha area.

CS: I am the technical one in the group and I also handle some of the design elements. Since our team is so small, it seems like many of the roles overlap and everyone is a jack of all trades. When I was little, I made videos with my friends on my parent’s old tape video recorder. Then as I got older, I started transitioning into still photography. Then, I rediscovered video and became interested with it once again. Now it’s sort of everything media-related. With having a recording studio, I’ve learned so much about audio production which was my biggest weakness coming into this field.

Simon and I started working together about three years ago. Simon’s band (Clark & Company) was recording a Christmas song for their parents that year and asked me to come help make a video to go along with it. I had made a few videos in the past, so I agreed to tag along. We both enjoyed it so much we decided to keep doing it. Later on, a couple of people asked us to make a video for them. Eventually, we started doing a couple of projects a month and just decided to start the business. We LLC’d in October of 2017. We are as busy as we’ve ever been and are enjoying every moment of it.

We decided to start Broccoli because so many of the people we’ve got to work with create such beautiful art and we wanted it to get seen. There also seemed to be an unhealthy mindset among some people in Omaha that promoted exclusiveness. We wanted to shift the mindset to be more inclusive and friendly.

Corbin Schmidt. Photo courtesy of Corbin Schmidt.

BP: I work as Simon and Corbin’s intern. The opportunity presented itself when Simon posted on his Instagram story ambiguously about needing an intern for a project. At the moment, I thought I would be taking a different job opportunity but decided to meet up with the two for coffee to hear out the project they wanted to start. From there, Broccoli (which would get the name much later) was introduced to me as a platform they wanted to create to connect and promote creatives work. I loved the idea, as I’m all about supporting local art and decided to join the team. From there, I’ve been part of the brains behind Broccoli (writing the mission statement, posting on social media, coming up with new ideas for the future, editing some photography and audio, etc.) I also assist with Simon and Corbin’s business, Clark & Schmidt Studios, like assisting on video and photo shoots, editing photos, and shadowing their editing process for their videography.

KB: Why do you think it is difficult for artists and creatives to get exposure (and, well, compensation) for their work in Omaha?

BP: I believe there’s still some stigma around being a creative and wanting to make it a full time career. People tend to be dubious of artists/creatives starting out due to their ‘lack’ of credibility and the fact that they’re still branding themselves. I also think another aspect of it is that people are obsessed with only giving their attention to things that already have a lot of attention. Like, most people would rather listen to a song that’s popularly listened to on Spotify/buy a popular artists work/follow famous photographers/models vs. check out the music of a local band, buy from a new artist, or get their pictures taken from a starting out photographer. People love to hop on bandwagons and be trendy so, let’s say, if a local band isn’t super “hip” yet people hardly care to go out of their way to listen, even if the work and people behind it are awesome!

CS: I think it is hard for artists to get traction because there can be a sense of exclusiveness. This mindset isolates people and doesn’t allow art to move forward. Creating inclusive communities will enable people to express themselves freely and help local art evolve positively.

SC: In my experience, this is due to a mindset that I have noticed on social media among artists. The mindset of ‘I’m not going to share your work because I want my work to be seen.’ ‘I’m not going to share your album because that would take away form mine.’ Broccoli is trying to change this mindset and bring artists together, the show them it is much more beneficial helping each other and building each other up, rather than focus on tearing each other down. As for the compensation side of things, it’s all about your connections. What you know is important, don’t get me wrong, but especially in a tight community such as Omaha, a huge factor to landing jobs is connections. That’s why Broccoli has a large focus on connecting people and allowing people to discover each other. It’s not necessarily difficult for all artists to get exposure and compensation in Omaha; it’s not an epidemic. Is it hard to break into that level of exposure, success, and compensation? Yes. We started Broccoli to simply make that process a little easier for artists in the community.

KB: Since your launch in November, how have things gone for Broccoli?

CS: So far so good! We received much more initial support than I thought we would. It’s been consistent work and definitely a learning opportunity for the whole team.

BP: We had a very successful launch party, lots of submission sent in, a Broccoli photoshoot, created t-shirts, and are currently in the works of launching another networking party. We took a bit of a hiatus over Christmas to spend time with our families but we have a lot of big plans for this upcoming year, such as expanding to new social media platforms, having more events, launching our podcast (that’s all recorded and just needs to be edited!), releasing promotional videos, and starting a blog!

SC: The main measure of success to me is seeing that we are making (even if small) a difference. Seeing artists connect with and support each other, get jobs, connect with brads, lift each other up, and get exposure all on our platform is why we are doing this in the first place. One of my favorite things about starting Broccoli is discovering all this great local talent that I otherwise would have never known about. I get so excited when I see a new submission come in.