When Creative Control Fest began four years ago, the goal was to create an event that brought together ethnically and culturally diverse emergent talent from all sectors of Columbus and the Midwest's arts and creative community. Co-founders Marshall Shorts and Corey Favor, both professional graphic designers, felt Creative Control could be an unwavering resource for those looking to maintain or pursue a creative or artistic career.

When Creative Control Fest began four years ago, the goal was to create an event that brought together ethnically and culturally diverse emergent talent from all sectors of Columbus and the Midwest's arts and creative community. Co-founders Marshall Shorts and Corey Favor, both professional graphic designers, felt Creative Control could be an unwavering resource for those looking to maintain or pursue a creative or artistic career.

"Originally it was design-centric, and now it's [open to all] because when you get like-minded creatives together, the experience becomes unique. And with [the festival's] growth has come a uniqueness that's honestly happened organically. And that's what the festival is all about," said Favor during an interview with the festival's organizing committee, which includes Shorts, board members David Butler (host committee member), Speak Williams (music and entertainment coordinator) and executive leadership organizers Tyiesha Radford and Shalya Favor.

"We had a vision when we were getting it going, but you can never foresee what it will become. In that regard, the future is bright," said Shorts. "We've been really blessed to grow at a grassroots level and get this caliber of speakers and entertainers. We really just want to be a resource, and if we can do that for others and ourselves, we'll continue to grow."

Creative Control Fest 4 will feature an exceptional lineup of speakers - including "Orange is the New Black" author Piper Kerman, local hip-hop icon Blueprint, Larry Smith (creator of Six-Word Memoirs), and artist, author, researcher and recent TEDx Talk presenter Dr. Melissa Crum, to name a few - along with a Saturday closing concert featuring jazz outfit Cedric Easton & Circle of Friends, soulful singer-songwriter Jared Mahone and more.

"I'm excited about the speakers and the musicians. I think it's the most diverse group we've had, and I'm just really excited about all the content," said Williams. "I'm excited we got Jared Mahone, Cedric Easton and BBX, a kid who's nationally ranked on the beatbox circuit. I think there's a lot of entertainment value this year. In the past, the concert portion has been good, and I'm just really excited about this lineup. I'm a fan of these musicians, and I know they're going to get exposed to some new people."

Everything kicks off Friday night at multi-use Bosco Center with the networking event The B.R.U.S.H. Experience (Black Renaissance Urban Sophisticated Hip), the original foundation for Creative Control Fest. Shorts created B.R.U.S.H. to bring together local artists for live-painting events, which will be the centerpiece of Friday's event. It's also an opportunity for attendees to network, listen to live music, bowl, enjoy food and refreshments and get acquainted with the vibe of Creative Control.

"One of the key components is the Friday night networking event. A lot of the connections people make is through events like this and can be a great resource. There's no standard to it and you can just be yourself. I think it's an important component because it's the most casual night," said Butler.

"That was the whole point - to get people to connect. It's a great chance to meet and interact with some of the speakers," said Radford. "Maybe it's people you wouldn't walk up to at a conference, but if you're sitting together painting or listening to a song you both like and strike up a conversation, it's easier to build that professional network."

Creative Control Fest is also looking to welcome new attendees - particularly undergraduate students, who're awarded free access to events (with ID) thanks to a grant for this year's event from the Create Columbus Commission - whether the students consider themselves "creative" or not.

"By trade, I am an attorney. I am drawn to this as someone who could be called a non-creative, because I'm not an author, or painter or designer," said Shayla Favor. "But I am creative in my own way. I'm here because I want to show this festival is for everybody because even if you don't think you're by nature creative, there is a [creativity in] everyone and you just have to be bold enough to tap into that. I think it's good to know that there is artistry in all of us and all are welcome to this festival."