The art of making decisions slowly – working in the creative industries.

In all my 20 years of life, I don’t believe I have ever sighed as big a sigh of relief as the one I did when I saw this headline:

            “Students should not have to worry about graduate employment while at university”

For once, in the impending tsunami of life’s responsibilities, I felt like there was finally someone who had said what I wanted to let everyone in my life who ever expected anything from me know – ‘I don’t know what I’m doing after university’, and I shouldn’t have to (yet)!

life vs. me(Image Credit: “Surfer Wipes Out” (CC0 1.0) by Andrew Schmidt, modified and text added.)

Coming to the end of three years at university with graduation just a mere two months away, the world of jobs, internships, apprenticeships, and actual ‘work’ (paid or unpaid) are creeping up quickly. Or they should be, as everyone else around has let me believe all these years.

Graduating with a pretty wide degree in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, there are a plethora of avenues I could take work-wise, and work opportunities shouldn’t be hard to find considering within the UK creative occupations rose to 2.9 million in 2015.
cic_infographic_jobs(Source: http://www.thecreativeindustries.co.uk/resources/infographics)

I understand that there is a great mass of reasons and statistics that I can continue to add to the pile of why a pursuance of a job in The Arts and/or the creative industries should be the next step for me, another example being that the creative industries are apparently now worth £84.1 billion each year, generating £9.6 million per hour – that’s a lot of money I could potentially be earning a very, very, small part of.

But the problem is, in a world where many of us may be struggling with the #firstworldproblem of having too many choices, maybe the creative industries are too big.

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(Source: http://gph.is/2pzQZA5)

Encompassing sectors like technology, design, and publishing, the vast landscape which is the creative industries makes it almost impossible for someone as indecisive as me to find any form of a true calling anywhere.

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(Source: http://gph.is/1UG0Lwz)

I have had experience in a variety of jobs within the creative industries – writing a blog for a business I knew nothing about, working on the floor of a television production, and embodying the persona of a squirrel to review quirky advertising and marketing content (complete with tree and nut puns…) – but I am yet to find something that I truly enjoy doing, that will motivate me to wake up in those early hours of the morning to do work that will not only earn me enough to finally self-sustain myself, but more importantly let me finally contribute something  meaningful to society.

I know that the ‘perfect’ job will most likely never just appear unannounced and out of nowhere, no matter how much I wish and pray to land a job without ever having to leave the house. But if my experiences working ‘creatively’ within a number of different industries has taught me anything, it’s that there really is a job out there for everyone, no matter their interests, skill-set or amount of work experience.

I don’t expect to come to any sudden epiphanic realisation that I know exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life anytime soon; maybe I’ll end up being a professional graphic designer who works only in Microsoft Paint (refer to the first image in this post that I masterfully crafted), or a game developer who also produces amazing transmedia narratives on the side – who knows?!

The point is, I believe we should take our time to explore the infinite opportunities the creative industries can provide us with, before we go making any kind of permanently life-changing decisions.

So, should you (or your child) should take six months off after university? I think I’ll answer with a resounding ‘yes’.

(Featured Image Credit: “Vintage Alarm Clock” (CC0 1.0) by Axelle B.)

Why we need to reshape the concept of creativity and stop limiting ourselves

Have you ever heard someone say ‘Oh, I wish I was creative!’ with such longing and disdain that it sounds like they’re missing a limb? Maybe you’ve declared it yourself once or twice to your artsy friends with the righteous belief that they own some innate genius of creativity that you can by no means attain? As the designated ‘artsy friend’ of my circle, I’ve come to realise that what my friends define as creative, however, is nothing more than a set of skills that I’ve continuously worked on throughout my life. I believe that the reason so many people think they aren’t creative is their own misconception of what creativity really is – not a skill, but a trait – and one that is not reserved for the arts or defined by them.

Creativity is the moving force that stands behind innovation, science, technology and evolution, but we often tend to forget or overlook this. The preconceived notions of creativity limit us, but worse than that, they also separate us.

“The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries and the creative industries have long been perceived as opposites, but in reality they are no more than two sides of the same coin”

I decided to look up the word ‘creativity’ in the dictionary of my computer and compare it to the definition of a synonymous to it word – ‘invent’ as an experiment in popular perceptions. Here’s what I found out:

  • creative |kriːˈeɪtɪv|

adjective

relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something: change unleashes people’s creative energy | creative writing.
• having good imagination or original ideas: a creative team of designers.

  • invent |ɪnˈvɛnt|

verb [ with obj.]

create or design (something that has not existed before); be the originator of: he invented an improved form of the steam engine.

The underlined sentences show that even in something as simple as a dictionary definition, creativity is attributed to designers and writers and inventions are attributed to science. The problem here is not the nuancing of word meanings in the English language, it’s the vivid distinction between being creative and being inventive. The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) industries and the creative industries have long been perceived as opposites, but in reality they are no more than two sides of the same coin. In their core, they both rely on combining complex skills and knowledge with originality in order to bring something new into existence, so why is there such a contrast between the two?

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Overall mentions of the word ‘create’ in Google Books from 1800 to 2008

Since the beginning of the 20th century the importance of creativity has been on the rise. It is now a characteristic that employers from both the creative and the non-creative industries use to describe their ideal candidate and this can be very intimidating to those, who believe creativity isn’t a part of who they are.
As this post comes to an end, I implore you to understand that creativity is ambiguous and that it isn’t exclusive. Patents and paintings are both inventions, which stem from original thought, and so are your ideas. The fact that they’re not ideas for a masterpiece doesn’t make them uncreative and in today’s competitive society to dismiss your creativity is to undermine yourself and your efforts.


If you want to learn some more about this topic, you can take a look at the links below:


Cover image by TeroVesalainen on Pixabay, credited under CC0 Public Domain

Why creativity is under threat of a future Tory government

Studying a degree in the arts? Chances are that you’ve been confronted by a BSc student claiming their degree is more worthy than your Bachelor of Arts. Now imagine BA students are Labour and BSc are Conservative, or in another light, Jeremy Corbyn repetitively being told his policies are no use by Theresa May. It is this belittling attitude that aims to subdue creativity, while building an increasingly dominant analytical approach in a revolutionary technological era.

The surprise June 8th general election proposed by Mrs May has caused much speculation in light of her original and rather adamant attitude that there would be no general election until 2020. Whether this U-turn decision is correlated to the Conservative’s election spending investigation or not people can only speculate, but what is clear is the potential threat that the creative economy and workers will face if cuts to the industry and related sectors continue for another 5 years.

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Photo credit: Marus Bridge Primary School

“They’re making cuts to the education sector.”

That’s right, schools are facing the largest cuts in funding since the mid 1990s according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It is estimated that by 2019-2020 funding will fall by 6.5% per pupil, while students attending college and sixth form have already endured a decrease in education spending of 6.7% between 2010 and 2011, under the Cameron-Clegg coalition. We all know how that old tuition fee promise ended up… torn up and tripled.

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Photo credit: Wessex Scene

As much as we moan about it at the time, education is essential for building intellect, knowledge and developing character in a varied social environment. In a recent survey of 1000 teachers 80% of participants said their schools were already making cuts, while 9% reported that cuts to art, music or drama in timetables was an action schools were having to take as a result of a lack of funding. In comparison to mandatory subjects of Math, English and Science, topics classed under the arts are the first to take impact in schools, despite the ongoing debate of whether or not they are just as important to the curriculum. A 4% decrease in students taking drama as an option at GCSE is just one result of many to come. On a small scale this may seem insignificant, but the economic benefits that creative workers bring to the UK are estimated to be £10 million an hour.

And that’s what matters right, money and economic benefit over a child’s education?

Abolished Art Grants

Prior to the 2015 election, then Shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman, warned that another Tory government “would continue to devalue creativity in education and would take public spending back to levels seen before the Arts Council had even been conceived of” (Independent, 2015). Two years later and art grants from Bath and North East Somerset Council have recently been reported as obsolete, after scrapping their once existing £5,000 annual grant with a long term aim of saving £433,000 by 2020.

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Photo credit: Banksy Brexit art

But what about BREXIT?

Of course, no political post would be complete without the big B. There will be an impact on creative cultural industries when the UK has officially left the European Union, as outlined by the Creative Industries Federation. Some concerns include:

  • The loss of rights protecting original designs with knock-on effects for trade showcases such as London Fashion Week.
  • The impact on the finances and international standing of British higher education of a likely cut to the number of EU students and academics.
  • Whether the UK will proceed with hosting the European City of Culture in 2023.

However you vote on June 8th, make sure you do just that, VOTE!

CLICK BELOW TO REGISTER TO VOTE

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10 Things That Wouldn’t Exist In The UK Without The Creative Industries

With Brexit looming over us, many fear for the creative industries. The government and the majority of the nation seem to be unaware of the importance of this growing sector, as well as the benefits it brings to the UK.

I ask you in the uncertain times ahead to remember and support the driving force that is behind these 10 things: 

  1. A growing economy

In 2015 the creative industries generated £87.4bn for the country and the amount it generates is continually growing. It is seeing a 7% rise in the creative industries CVA compared to the average rise of 17.4 % across the economy. These figures highlight how the creative industries are a reliable endorser of the British economy.

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Source: http://gph.is/1mavbro
  1. Money super-market advertisements

It may be the most complained about ad of 2016, receiving over 1,063 complaints, but Dave the worker who likes to strut his stuff down the high street in his high heels and Gary the dancing body guard have become household names. Helping to increase Money Super-Market’s profits by 12% in 2016, this advertisement highlights the positive impacts that the creative industries can have to businesses.

  1. The Shard

The tallest building in Western Europe made up of 11,000 glass panels and the 59th tallest building in the world. All created by the architect Renzo Piana, who once said ‘I hate tall buildings’, the shard is a symbol of the creative architecture and art that is available in the UK.

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Source: WikiCommonsMedia
  1. Stormzy

The man responsible for the ‘rise of UK grime’, turning it into something that could be defined as our biggest cultural export. With the likes of Kanye West showing to be a big fan, Stormzy has helped the UK’s music industry to be recongised for its innovation around the world.

stormzy
Source: http://gph.is/2cC0jRb
  1. Bridget Jones’s Baby

One of 2016’s top three grossing films at UK box office, and opening at number 1 in 24 different countries, Bridget Jones’s Baby was filmed in the UK’s Working Title Studio, making Bridget a national treasure.

Bridget jones
Source: http://gph.is/2aYr4zl
  1. Glastonbury Festival 

Started in 1970 on Worthy Farm in Glastonbury, Somerset, by local farmer Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival is now the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world.

Glastonbury_Festival
Source: WikiMedia
  1. Victoria Beckham

If this woman hasn’t spiced up the British creative industries, I don’t know who has. Starting as a member of one of the most famous girl bands of all time, the Spice Girls introduced the true meaning of ‘Girl Power’. Victoria then created her own fashion label that won her  Glamour’s ‘entrepreneur of the year award’, Victoria Beckham is definitely a queen of the British creative industries and a face of British culture.

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Source:http://gph.is/1IPX4P3

8.  50 Shades of Grey

Everywhere you turned in 2015 someone was always reading this book. Selling over 5.3 million copies, and being turned into a Hollywood film, the book by British writer E. L. James is one of UK’s and the world’s greatest literature success stories.

50 shades
Source: http://gph.is/2cfd9Vb
  1. Banksy

Listed in Time’s world’s 100 most influential people in 2010, Banksy has helped put British art on the map. Keeping his identity hidden, he started sharing his art on the walls of Bristol during the 1990s and now sees it sold for hundred of thousands of dollars in auction houses around Britain and the world.

  1. 8 Million Jobs

The amount of creative industry jobs increased by 5.5% in 2014, which is more than double the 2.1% national average rise in UK employment. Therefore, in simpler terms, without the creative industries in the UK many of us would be unemployed.

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Source: https://giphy.com

All images free to use under Creative Commons legislation.

Cover Image Source: Flickr.com/photos/unionjack 
Union Jack” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by csaga

Yello Brick Presents the Magic of the Game

How often do you see adults who are so immersed into a game that on their faces appears a lively childish look which makes them glow as bright as when they have first experienced the magic of the play? Well, this is what the team of yello brick can give to your audience – an adventure specifically tailored for your brand which will place your targeted market at the centre of an unforgettable story.

Alison John, producer at yello brick, gave us some inspiring insight on their work in a lecture for our amazing #JOMECcci, and this blog post is a response to it…

yello brick is a fast-developing marketing agency which creates not only physical events but also digital experiences. The idea for the company originated from its founders’ interest in social interaction and their desire to mix theatre, street and game elements to see how people would respond. Of course, the success of this innovative venture came soon enough – in 2014, yello brick won a BAFTA Cymru Games Commendation for the compelling project Reverie.

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Photo credit: yello brick

What made Reverie exceptional was the efficient mixture of old and new, as the game did not only encourage participation in physical events across Cardiff Bay, but also built a large online community of followers thanks to a huge marketing campaign on social media. Thus, Reverie once more demonstrated that technology and digital expertise are key to the success of the creative industries and the promotion of new projects in the field.

However, the success of yello brick was not pure luck but rather a result of tough work and constant efforts. As Alison John notes, games are not necessarily seen as an art form by the Art Council, and funding can sometimes prove to be slow and challenging. So, her advice to all future creatives is to fight hard for their dreams instead of waiting for somebody to provide them with the necessary resources to chase them.

Undoubtedly, this piece of wisdom can be useful to all startups, which are about to make a name on the market. With the significant cuts in public funding for culture and arts in the last few years, more and more companies struggle to create or preserve their brand identities.

On the bright side, the UK government gradually realizes the importance of the creative sector to the economy. In result, the Arts Council England (ACE) has announced an increase in culture funding with extra £37 million per year in the period between 2018 and 2022. The strategic allocation of those funds will aim to enhance creative and regional diversity by funding more small startups outside London.

However, it is obvious that ACE’s budget is still highly restricted, which continues to limit artists’ access to public funding, and could potentially discourage participation in shaping the cultural landscape of the country.

In response, new innovative methods for financing creative ventures continue to gain popularity, including crowdfunding and other forms of private investments. In the case of yello brick, working with different clients is essential – as Alison mentions, they have benefited from ACE’s financial support, but a significant part of their business also involves designing projects for corporate partners.

So, in times when it gets harder and harder for the creatives to receive public funding, yello brick proves to be a true inspiration and an example of an innovative company that refuses to wait for success to come, and instead, chases it confidently and fearlessly. Undoubtedly, in that courage lies a lesson every graduate who wants to enter the industry needs to pay attention to!

Photo credit for the featured image: yello brick

Benefits of Community Art: Memories from the wash-house

When I visited an exhibition by David Jones titled ‘Angels on Washing Lines’, I was surprised to find that the exhibition was empty. A recent survey conducted by The Arts Council of Wales found that in the South-West there was a 19% decrease in attendance to arts & crafts exhibitions. Artists have the ability to help solve a number of social issues but arts attendance continues to correlate closely with social grade making some demographics unreachable. Community art projects break down barriers to entry in the arts, creating a more inclusive environment for creativity to thrive.

Community art escapes traditional spaces and ventures into the public realm, giving people a place and time to tell their own stories. In the case of Jones’ exhibition, the community art project worked as an inter-generational tool connecting communities and allowing more people to enjoy Jones’ work without stepping foot into a gallery.

 

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Jones’ work is playful, colourful and inspired by his creative childhood memory. One piece in particular that caught my eye was the ‘Angels on Washing Lines.’ The piece was made of MDF and acrylic that had been hung on string to represent socks, shirts, pyjamas and more. The piece was inspired from a childhood memory of Jones’ in which he conflated the idea of Heaven with the clothes that were on his grandmothers washing line.

Alongside Jones’ exhibition sits a community project inspired by the ‘Angels on Washing Lines’ centre piece. The project explores and celebrates older women’s stories and memories of wash days past and are exhibited in the shop windows of King Street in Carmarthen. The pieces that make up the project are created by the elderly community, as they respond to their memories of laundry days. In Victorian times Monday’s were dedicated washing days, and was a particularly strenuous day due to the lack of running water and electricity.

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The art trail is full of colourful, creative pieces in the shape of socks, shirts, shoes and blankets which are accompanied by humorous, interesting stories from the ‘wash house’. One anecdote that accompanied a blue and red blanket piece told of a time when their mother was so exhausted that she accidentally threw the laundry water over a congregational minister who was visiting. Another story spoke of the order of the week: Monday was for washing, Tuesday was for ironing and Friday was for airing the clothes. A running theme throughout the stories was the hard work the women would undertake weekly and the pride they took in the up-keeping of their homes. Although an entire exhibition dedicated to a washing day may seem boring to some the project has important cultural significance. It allows the transfer of stories across generations in a creative way that catches the eye of walkers by and draws them in. The art project also works to give the elderly, who are often the most detached from their communities, a platform to tell their stories and share their heritage.

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Community art projects are of great value to society. ‘Memories from the wash-house’ shares cultural heritage, connects different generations, and gives elderly members of the community a platform to share their stories from a time that has passed. The success of this project in bringing the arts out of traditional spaces and into the public domain has meant that more people have been able to enjoy Jones’ work. Such participation in the creative and cultural industries are central to the development of a community’s creative learning.

The David Jones ‘Angels on Washing Lines’ exhibition can be viewed in the Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Carmarthen from the 18th of March to the 13th of May. 

The ‘Memories from the wash-house’ community project can be viewed in the store windows of King Street from the 25th of April to the 13th of May.