Last week, a student told me that his parents were very disappointed that he had chosen to go into advertising “because being creative is not a profession”.
It’s a sentiment I have heard before, and I imagine it’s at least partly the reason that advertising colleges are now creating degree courses … I don’t know.
What I do know is that this sense of “not a real job” is perpetuated by the somewhat old-fashioned practice of treating creative people a bit like wayward children – accepting behaviour that should be inexcusable in a fully-grown human.
That way madness lies.
Creativity is a vitally important influence in modern society and the people who wield it have a responsibility to use their powers for good. The Nomura Institute (Japan) goes as far as to place creativity in the category of historically significant paradigms, maintaining that the Creative Age has replaced the Information Age as the dominant global focus, with content and design driving virtually every level of industry.
So what is creativity and what does it do?
According to Alan Freeman (who wrote Creativity: London’s Core Business), “Creative labour is that which cannot be replaced by machines; labour that is irreducibly human”.
Yet human means a lot of things, and they’re not all good. So I think that creativity is perhaps the outward expression of the best of human qualities. Curiosity. Open-mindedness. Talent. Flexibility. Independence. Humour. Empathy. And the more we invest in creativity, the more these qualities will emerge … and the more people will show their best selves.
Practically, creativity helps people to rethink old ways. It helps to communicate complex subjects in different ways. It brings life to new ideas. It even solves budget- problems when money is tight.
Plus it’s contagious.
A business full of confidently creative people will not only move their company forward but will intuitively explore new ways to influence the broader community. Seeking innovative solutions to housing, to pensions, to healthcare, even maybe find their way around free education … #feesmustfall.
Perhaps most importantly, creativity is the key to brand new invention. NEW. Not a mishmash of multiple references … not a progression of something that has gone before … not something the market has asked for … not ‘improved’. NEW.
Imagine how that feels.
So if you’re a creative, you should be pouring energy into creation not self-destruction. If you’re paying creative people you should demand genuinely deep thinking and truly lateral output. If you’re a parent, give thanks for your creative child … he or she is destined for a truly job that is truly proper.
Tricia is ECD at RADAR which she enjoys because she is surrounded by lovely, extraordinary, uniquely talented, people.