Fostering beyond a career at Tech: GT Creatives

Singer Prat. serenades the crowd with an orginal song. Artists like Prat. represent the creative side of the Institute through GT Creatives. // Photo by Alexy Tatarinov Student Publications

Georgia Tech Creatives (GTC) hosted their semester kickoff last Thursday, Sept. 7 in the DramaTech Theater, showcasing a new wave of Tech talent.

The third event of its kind saw dance numbers from hip hop group TEKSTYLES and Bollywood-fusion group, GT JADOO and musical performances from R&B artist, MARI, self described “one-man-band” Prat. and rapper Oksurf.

Despite GTC only being in its third semester on campus and second as a registered student organization, the theater was packed. 

Doors locked once the theater was at capacity which was shortly after the event began.

The Technique sat down with Lekha Gowda, 4th-year BA, president and co-founder and Akbar Khan, 4th-year ARCH, co-founder and vice president to understand how the organization has continually adapted under such rapid growth.

According to Gowda, initial plans for the organization began as a conversation between herself and Akbar to plan a lone event.

“We talked about the fact that there was not really a space for anyone to really show themselves off creatively or really hone into their passions relating to art on campus … And then as we started brainstorming this event that we wanted to create, we were like, this sounds more of a community than an event. It sounds more like something where it’s a lot bigger than the both of us,” Gowda said.

To date the organization has amassed over 2,000 followers on Instagram (@gtcreatives) and reported a turnout of over 200 attendees at the most recent kickoff.

Throughout the interview, Gouda and Khan pointed to fluidity as a vantage point for the organization, allowing them to respond to opportunities as they appear, often at the last minute.

“As an exec team, we meet weekly, sometimes one or two times more. It just depends how close we are to a certain event,” Khan said.

Khan went on to explain that although the executive board for GTC was initially comprised of four positions, it went through several expansions and rearrangements to arrive at the current nine: President, Co-President, Director of Student Engagement, Director of Logistics, Director of Media, Director of Social Media and three Creative Directors, with each position either being added, removed or absorbed based on community needs.

Additionally, as of this semester, GTC no longer has a formal system of membership. Previously, if artists wanted to perform in a kickoff or receive promotion by GTC in any capacity, they had  to  be paying members, a requirement Gowda described as “exclusive.”

Recalling her initial experience at the Institute, Gowda was unable to join many campus organizations because of their entrance requirements and vowed this would not be the case for GTC.

“It just became a point where people would come to meetings every single week and be so involved in GTC, but just because they weren’t a paid member, they couldn’t display their work or perform or whatever,” Gowda said.

In place of the membership, GTC created a new position, Student Engagement manager, whose job is to make sure students across campus are aware of GTC happenings and form a closer knit community on campus. While the duo credit their exec board for maintaining the growth, they credit the community at Tech — their interest, support and dedication — for the growth itself.

As proof, Gowda spoke of a general body meeting where she and Akbar announced the organization would be printing their merchandise on vinyl. Two boys approached the pair, saying they had knowledge of the process and informed them that printing on vinyl would not be feasible. Working under a tight deadline, Gowda and Khan offered the boys a chance to demonstrate their skills.

“They went home, literally spent Halloween weekend making the screens [for the t-shirts] themselves, making the clothes from scratch. And they came to our next GBM [General Body Meeting] with a finalized product that looked amazing. And then they spent the next two weeks teaching me and Akbar how to do it,” Gowda said.

Feeding back into the community, the two boys, Josh Rauf, second-year ISYE, and Lewis Denson, 2nd-year BChE, went on to become current members of the executive board.

When asked where they see the organization in five years, Khan spoke of plans to stabilize the organization, citing his and Gowda’s nearing Spring 2024 graduation date as motivation.

“We have certain goals that we want to set in order to have a legacy of GTC … one of our main goals to get to that point is not scouting, but looking out for people who are really committed to the organization,” Khan said.

He also spoke of a desire to expand the definition of what a “creative” looks like in terms of what the
organization can offer students.

“When we started out, the avenues of art that we catered to the most were photography, videography and modeling. And as we’re going on, I think what we’re focused on is expanding that to different types of art. So dancing, rapping, singing, but also physical art, model making, things like that and graphic design,” Khan said.

Gowda’s vision for the organization centered around cementing the creative’s mark as an integral part of the culture at Tech.

“We have people from Morehouse and Clark Atlanta, and all these other schools that had come up to our open mic and showed up to our kickoff the other day,” said Gowda, recalling a recent event where an attendee was surprised when she learned the organization was associated with the Institute.

“That’s not the narrative that they [the Institute] built for us. So I really see Georgia Tech changing that narrative because of organizations like GTC. For example, the amount of money GT Arts has generously given us to funnel our passion and our fuel. You can see these bigger departments and these bigger bodies on campus seeing that there’s a space for this. So I see it becoming a very prominent thing not only at Tech,
but in Atlanta,” Gowda said.

Bringing things back to the Institute’s level, Akbar described what new members can expect at the weekly meetings held Tuesdays from 6:30-8 p.m. in the Ford Building, room L1255.

“We have a mixed structure that keeps the interest going [for participants] so workshops, creative exercises and a period where we show different opportunities that are coming up,” Akbar said.

“We would always have an activity, and we would try to cater that activity to a different part of art. We did a really cool one in our first semester … we brought 30 copies of the Technique to the meeting, and we made them [participants] split up into five teams, and they all had to make an outfit. They picked a model, and they all had to cut up the paper and make a whole outfit out of
the newspaper,” Gowda said..

From a singular event to a blossoming organization, GTC has made its mark at the Institute fostering community on campus and foraging new relationships with the Atlanta community. 

Their next event will be Oct. 20 at the Creator’s Collective, where students can get to know more about the organization.

Throughout the interviewGouda and Khan emphasized their staff as a critical part of all that GTC does and asked they be recognized for their hard work and dedication.

The staff consists of: Creative Director – Rahul Subramanian, fourth-year ARCH, Creative Director – Nour Khalifa, second-year ARCH, Creative Director – Josh Rauf, second-year ISYE, Director of Social Media – Kome Onoyona, fourth-year, CS, Director of Media – Coby Harris, fourth-year, ARCH, Director of Logistics – Calvin Njuguna, third-year BMED and Director of Student Engagement – Lewis Denson, second-year CHBE.