I hear it pretty often that people wish there was a great meet up group for what they did in their town. That’s exactly what I thought about two years ago when Mike Petrik and I started Chicago Motion Artists Group (or CMAG if you are in the know). New York and LA both have a very large After Effects user group and at one time Chicago had an After Effects user group but for whatever reason it fizzled out. We have a pretty awesome group of people doing motion graphics and visual effects here in Chicago and having a user group or meet up is an important part of keeping that community close. But getting the people to come out is often tricky and you have to figure out what people want from the group. The Chicago group is very informal and more of a networking group which works out perfectly for us.
Yesterday I took a drive out to Cleveland to visit the Cleveland Motion Artists Group. I know they have only had a few meet ups since they started but I wanted to see how its going and see what kind of turn out they have. I know when the Chicago group started it was only a few of us hanging out at the bar. It just grew organically on it’s own, as people wanted to come see what everyone was up to and just get away from the computer for a bit. The Cleveland group is at the starting point and it’s just waiting to blow up. I know there are people in Cleveland doing good work and they have to just keep having the meet ups and getting together. It was awesome to see how the Chicago group inspired them to start their own and I commend them for doing it. You just have to go at it and make it happen!