Artists spend their lives isolated, completely engaged in a solitary process, focusing on improving, dealing with fears and insecurities, until at some point in their life they realize that there is no one to share their victories or losses with.
THU Gatherings are our way to continue our work, our mission of helping artists; they're a door to something we believe is the most important thing – the THU family, also known as the Tribe – a global network of creative minds that share the same values.
Family usually bonds over a meal, which is why food is an extremely important part of the Gatherings.
It wasn't an easy process to figure out how to structure the Gatherings in a way that would allow us to recreate the atmosphere and magic of THU Main event in just a few hours. Well, here's where it all began.
Paris (2014) - The first international experience dinner and drinks
It's a little scary how quickly after the first THU three years ago, everyone who joined us was changed and inspired from what happened in Troia. Those people became the first members of the THU Tribe. We began talking on a daily basis, often discussing ways to explain the magic that took place in those days to everyone who wasn't physically there. I still have trouble in defining THU since it's nothing like anything else, so imagine how hard it was back then!
But those very first THU pioneers didn't give up. They wanted to keep the conversation going. They wanted to talk about it. They wanted to keep THU alive. So in June 2014, I decided to go to Paris to meet some ex-attendees.
Paris was the place with the largest active THU community at that point in time. I thought it would be a good excuse to catch up with new and old friends.
I didn’t want to push anyone to meet me. I didn't think many people would be interested in having dinner or drinks with me to talk about THU. I remember sharing these thoughts with two tribe members, JP Hugonnet and Geoffrey Ernault, but they convinced me to give it a shot.
We had a small dinner with 7/8 artists, followed by drinks at a bar, where almost 30 artists shows up. It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot of things, the most important of which was that the need to be part of a community was something many artists craved. The night took me by surprise and was truly amazing, although I felt it lacked in organization and it had the potential to be something much bigger.
That experience in Paris marked the beginning of an incredible journey that has taken me around the world over the past 2 years.
Berlin (2015) - The First THU Meetup
So after the second THU main event, tribe members Jack Gilson and Papa Bear approached me, inviting me to Berlin. I said no. I remember telling them that I didn't want to have any dinner as it didn't add any value to the community or the industry, and I couldn't afford having anything other than that.
However, they didn't give up - Jack got a small sponsorship to rent a bar and hold an exclusive THU event with talks and Papa Bear organized the party.
I was convinced to participate by the passion of these incredible guys. That's how the first official THU Meetup was born on March 21, 2015.
While preparing the schedule, I realized that Michael Kutsche, the incredible artist that was going to make the THU 2015 poster, was in Berlin too, so we decided to create an event to reveal the poster. Since that moment, we always made it a point to “reveal” something at all the Meetups.
We had limited free tickets and ran out of them in one week – more than 400 attendees signed up! I literally didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the location that day. It was like a music festival with a huge line of people waiting outside who couldn't wait to get in. Seeing them was an incredible feeling. Something I can't describe in words.
We had attendees fly over from 10 different countries just for this Meetup.
Nadia Enis, Geoffrey Ernault, Paul Scott Canavan, Diego Llorens, Johannes Figlhuber, and Mark Molnar were so kind to accept to be part of this new experience as our guest speakers. And, of course, having Michael Kutsche explain the process that lead him to design the THU 2015 poster was indeed something special.
However, this very first Meetup also had a lot of problems. I thought everyone noticed them, but, to my surprise, people were pleased. They loved the experience, even if the space was too small, the drinks too expensive, and the music too loud. They didn't complain, rather they gave me advice on how to improve next time.
This gave us the strength to believe the Meetups were something special for the Tribe. We decided to host more Meetups around the world, evolving and improving every time, trying to figure out what the perfect Meetup should be like.
After Germany we went to Brazil, Poland, Croatia, and the UK.
London (2015) – the big change
We closed the first round of Meetups in London. Hosted by leading game developer KING, this event was particularly important because we had the chance to push our ideas further and test one last thing: the food / gourmet experience.
On the rooftop of KING, in the center of London, we designed an experience, where food played an important role. KING's Aaron Allport helped us design a new schedule based on all the previous meetup experiences and feedback from the Tribe: we had 2 art talks of 30 minutes each, and one last talk about THU, also of 30mins.
When the THU Meetups became THE Gatherings
Even though we had a very good basis to start building on, I admit I still wasn't fully satisfied with the experience. In my opinion, we had yet to accomplish our main goal: building bridges, friendships, and inspiring creatives across the world.
Since the beginning, all the Meetups were free and we believe they should remain that way. They're a place for those who have passion and really want to be part of a global movement like the one we are working hard to build. Sadly though, we discovered that many artists didn't respect what we were doing and this let us down. In all the Meetups of 2015, the tickets sold out in a maximum of 3 days with a very long waiting list each time, especially in London and Berlin. However, 25% of ticket-holders never showed up and never sent us an email canceling or informing us or apologizing. This was disrespectful and unfair to all those people who wanted to, but didn't get a chance to participate.
So in 2016, we charged 10 euros for the tickets to the Gatherings and the no-shows went down to 3%. We returned the money happily to all those who turned up because it's important to give people who are passionate about art and life a chance to connect.
Many people spend a lot of time and money to fly from different countries to wherever the Gathering is being held. This makes us want to work even harder to give them the best possible experience. When preparing the menu for the Gatherings, we always use local products and local chefs. We also use these occasions to learn more about the art environment in each place that hosts us.
Obviously, all of this is made possible by our partners, like Supercell, KING, and Lenovo, companies that share our same values and ambitions.
We are still evolving and learning with every event we organize. Changing mentalities is the hardest part of our job, but if we really want to succeed and start building a strong community, there is no other way to do it.
We will go wherever the Tribe calls us. Whether we go to a new place or return to an old one, our goal will always remain the same: inspiring artists and creators to step out of their comfort zones and start connecting. Together we will build a world where art is the universal language.