Do you buy into the 'starving creative' stereotype?

I was reading a great piece of IP from the extraordinary Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory from The Impossible Institute recently. It boldly (and rightly) claims

"There is a stereotype of creative people as poverty stricken, alternative types who shun money lest it compromise their artistic freedom. It is a damaging stereotype and makes creativity something business used to relatively ignore. "


Now more than ever, you need to embrace your creative side, rather than shove it back into the recesses of your mind, casting it off as something you dabbled in when you were an idealistic youth.


Think about it. How do we really view creativity?  I certainly used to love love love considering myself as a creative, and yes, found some solace in embracing the romance of the suffering artist. In my first professional job out of university,  I would relish hanging out with my 'suit' friends at the Park Royal on Friday nights feeling SOO grown up, then embracing repertory theatre the next day, with some gorgeous and talented people who often couldn't even pay for a bottle of wine. For a while, I became a professional creative, working as an actor in a theatre in education troupe, and absolutely loved it (it actually paid, and I supplemented my income with waitressing, but I still had to give up the Park Royal drinkies and lived off baked potatoes and home made plum sauce for a while). I look back at those days very fondly, with the intense conversations, the late nights from the hospo eves, and the amazing people who challenged my ideals.

But then I made a choice, which kind of felt like selling my soul to the devil, and decided I would no longer pursue a creative career (ie something that I got paid for) because the financial cost was too great. As I worked in finance, manufacturing and IT, I started to shut down my creative side, because really, there was just not enough time to indulge. And there was no real call for creativity in my roles (save for starting up my first company, that certainly is something where you can celebrate your art!).

Fast forward a decade, and I decided to attend a 'Joy of Creativity' class at Elam Summer School, after a nasty business partnership breakup and leaky building debacle. We were instructed to create something beautiful out of something we despised, and as I started moving the pencil around the paper (for the first time in forever), I found myself starting to get emotional. The feeling grew stronger, until finally I had to excuse myself and lock myself the the loo, sobbing uncontrollably for about 30 minutes. It really was 'art therapy' and I spent the course creating a 2 meter diameter charm bracelet called 'corporate charm' which contained every day items like security passes, keyboard and disposable coffee cups.

Since then, I have fully embraced the role of art and creativity in our world, and Seth Godin's work in this area has been pivotal. In 'The Icarus Deception' he claims that art is the new new safety zone, and that creating ideas that spread and connecting the disconnected are the two pillars of our new society, and both of them require the posture of the artist. Kieran says that times have changed, no longer can cheapest, fastest or even best quality see you thrive. You need more, you need creativity because how you do what you do now matters as much as what you do.

In a world of automation, creativity is such a human quality that computers simply can't replicate. As such, there is now a higher value placed on it than ever before. No longer are the creatives condemned to a life of poverty, outcast from the engine rooms of our economy (although there may still be some who buy into that scarcity thinking), there are ways to embrace art and earn good money for it like never before.

If you haven't explored your creativity for a while, how about you carve out some time for yourself to rediscover it. It might be picking up a paintbrush or pencil, playing on your dusty old piano, writing a blog or even putting together a little video on iMovie or Movie Maker. Don't deny that part of you any more; by celebrating our inner creative, we not only become more connected, but we might just reignite a passion that illuminates us in all aspects of our life!

Posted on November 12, 2015 .