The marginalising of creativity by the creative industries

20th February 2015
Paul Bailey

The ‘creative’ industries, and the ‘creatives’ who work in them, are responsible for marginalising creativity and devaluing the importance of creative thinking has to everyone.

Creativity is a thought process, and creative thinking can be applied in any workplace and area of life. However, over the years it has become clearer to me that the ‘creative’ industries and, in recent years, the designers labelling themselves ‘creatives’ are trying to own the term Creative. Labelling ourselves ‘creatives’ is an attempt to set ourselves out as experts in our field of creativity. This is understandable, and necessary at times, as we need to be considered experts.

Unfortunately, the effect this has had is to divide us from people who supposedly aren’t creative, it is saying ‘we are creative, you’re not’.If our actions are encouraging creativity to be considered as the sole domain of ‘creatives’ then is it any surprise that many ‘creative’ subjects are being downgraded in their importance in the education system? If we give the impression that creativity is the sole domain of the creative industries, why are we surprised when it is considered irrelevant to everyone else?

Creative thinking is vital in all kinds of areas and work: doctors, builders, teachers, mathematicians, scientists, all make creative decisions daily. The teaching of creative subjects is not only needed to produce the next generation of designers, artists, musicians, etc. but it is even more important in helping everyone harness and make the most of their ability to think creatively. Remember, creativity is a thought process.

Consider the analogy of runners and running. Elite athletes are obviously brilliant at running. They have a natural aptitude for it and have also trained for many years to get better at doing it. They are runners – but we can all run. Similarly, we might work in the ‘creative’ industries, but everyone can be creative.

So what’s the difference? The difference is that elite athletes make a point of encouraging us all to run. They help us all see the benefits of running and are very vocal in encouraging everyone, at whatever their level, to get more active. As creative industries, and ‘creatives’, I believe we tend to do the opposite. We try to turn creative thinking and creativity into something that WE do, something that should be left to the experts. Even our repurposing of the word ‘creative’ in to a noun shows this attempt to own creativity.

This is wrong. It is damaging our industries and the perceived importance and relevance of creative subjects. No wonder creative subjects are being side-lined. The point of creative subjects isn’t to make everyone an artist, but to help everyone harness their creativity. If we can’t encourage creative thinking, and show its importance in all areas of life, then the teaching of creative subjects and creativity itself will only be marginalised further. And we will only have ourselves to blame.

Image 1 © Steve-Braund
Image 2 © Peter Mooney

Creative thinking is vital in all kinds of areas and work: doctors, builders, teachers, mathamaticians, scientists, all make creative decisions daily. The teaching of creative subjects is not only needed to produce the next generation of designers, artists, musicians, etc. but it is even more important in helping everyone harness and make the most of their ability to think creatively.