In high school, I was warned about picking “too many creative subjects”. I was told it wouldn’t prepare me for work or that my career expectations were unrealistic. Yet 5 years out of school with a string of professional positions under my belt, I’ve learnt firsthand that almost every single job requires a creative mindset.
I was always being told how bloody tough it is to find opportunities, earn money over “exposure”, and get a leg up on a whole world of fantastic creative people — this was totally disheartening when I’d dreamt up a career full of colour and creation throughout school. It totally burst my bubble to hear things like: “enjoy being a starving artist!” or “you know cutting images together on Photoshop isn’t a real job, right?” But I still went ahead and picked 3 arts subjects (photography, fine art and visual communication) to tackle in my final years of school, despite the warning from my career counsellor.
I put in my sweat and tears to finish assignments, do research, visit galleries, watch documentaries and produce something beautiful at the end of every semester. Funnily enough, despite never having an interest in maths, science or humanities, I learnt a lot about the world through art history and studying political movements, and a lot about the tech and science involved in things like metalwork and developing photos in a darkroom.
When I graduated and started uni I learnt that creativity can take many different forms, and the subjects I’d chosen opened up more doors than I could have imagined. I suddenly saw that having a “creative” job didn’t necessarily mean becoming a photographer, painter, actor or designer. Creativity can look like lots of different things. It can take the form of something digital, which is a part of my role now at FYA — I develop elements of our website, write articles, create plans for videos and photoshoots, and I coordinate media and advertising campaigns online. When I worked in retail I was able to be creative with visual merchandising (dressing the windows and displays) and styling (dressing the customers and myself). I’ve worked in publishing, where I was not only able to be creative with my writing but I also had the opportunity to be creative when it came to solving problems, collaborating, structuring briefs or coming up with new and exciting ways to engage readers on and off the page.
I didn’t have to become a corporate sellout or dismiss my natural affinity to think creatively. The greatest revelation in my professional life is that it’s possible to find (and create) a happy place in between. I’ve learnt that “creative” isn’t a job type, it’s an essential part of any role I might undertake.
In fact, according to research (ahem, FYA’s research) demand for creativity from employers has increased by a huge 65% from 2012 to 2015. Through the analysis of 4.2 million job ads over 3 years it was found that now more than ever, employers are on the lookout for applicants with transferable enterprise skills including problem solving, communication skills, digital literacy, teamwork, presentation skills, critical thinking, financial literacy and of course, creativity. The best part? People who possess these skills are in line to earn more too.
So, for anyone out there on the other side of the screen who might have a few niggling voices telling you to dodge the “nice but ultimately impractical” art subjects, maybe show them this article. Or go a step further and show them the research that proves the world of work is changing and we need more creative minds in the workforce than ever before.