Intellectualizing The Creative

It is perhaps difficult to identify and define specifically what a “creative” is. There are numerous different definitions, and it could even be argued that anyone who defines their work as “creative” could be identified as such. In Creative work careers: pathways and portfolios for the creative economy, Daniel Ashton attempts to address just how wide ranging jobs in creative industries can be. While written with good intent, it felt to me as if Ashton was misguided with some of his methods in writing this article, and missed crucial elements of what these creatives can be.

The first, and perhaps most important recurring point that rubbed me the wrong way was the insistence that higher education is the “primary producer of the talent and skills that feed the creative industries.” To me there feels like a strong sense of intellectual elitism in a statement like this. While yes, many people who are creative or work creative jobs have been through the higher education system, it in no way means that higher education is the breeding grounds of creatives, or that creatives need higher education in order to become successful. The article does not address creatives who did not go to college, or pursue creative work despite their non-creative college degree. In my experience as a musician who has made numerous professional contacts who are currently working in the industry and finding great success, I have found that almost all of them, whether instrumentalists, producers, or songwriters, either have only a High School diploma, have a college degree in something that has almost no effect on their creative craft, or attended a music school itself. In my experience it has seemed like many of them go to college often as a backup plan (assuming they have the money) rather than college being the reason for their success.

The article’s main point seems to be that creative people and creative jobs can be found in almost any industry. This is very important and helpful for people in my position- creatives who are about to graduate from college and join the workforce. However, it seems to be geared much more towards what Ashton would define as embedded (creative individuals in creative roles ‘embedded’ in industries not defined as creative) and supportive (staff in the creative industries providing management, secretarial, administrative and accountancy back-up)  jobs rather than what he would define as specialists (the artists and creatives working directly in the creative industry). As discussed above, many of this does not apply to the specialists themselves. 

On a macro level, I would say the main issue with this article is that Ashton Attempts to define the undefinable, and attempts to empirically rationalize something which is incredibly fluid and ever changing. He uses “creative trident approach,” and defines creative workers as one of three things, and even attempts to define what creative work is on the second page of the article, without identifying the problems which his approach raises. It feels like reading what a non-creative person thinks the creative person looks like.

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