Welcome to the creative age

It seems that a lot of people think creativity is a total scam or just a bunch of fluff. Maybe you’re one of them.

And I don’t blame them (or you) for feeling that way.

But creativity only seems that way because, in the last decade especially, it’s seriously such an important part of modern day life. I don’t think many of us even realize exactly how important it’s become. Even for those who aren’t in a creative field like art, writing, dance, engineering, or architecture.

I believe this is the creative age of mankind, where it’s suddenly not only possible, but also somewhat expected, for many of us to do creative work.

It wasn’t always this way though.

For a really long time the world ran on anything but creativity. Even saying that word outside of an art school or beatnik gathering or hippie circle meant certain humiliation.

Back then it was easy to be occupied with things that required you to be in the same seat every day pushing the same buttons. Absolutely no thinking required. Factories needed workers to pull levers and businesses needed people to crunch numbers, but nobody was expected to exactly think, let alone think creatively.

But then something interesting happened: the needs of the world at large changed. Not all of the world, but much of it (especially the parts concerning you and me). If you’re anywhere near my age you got to witness much of this change first-hand.

Machines got faster, more efficient, and relatively cheaper. Not only computers, but machines that manufactured those computers, and the ones that manufactured other important things like automobiles, phones, and even food.

And now, as that change continues today, a lot of people around the world are suddenly finding themselves with not a lot to do. Now there are no more buttons to press or numbers to crunch, technology does much of that stuff for us.

So we enter an age where the value of a person – particularly a working person – is no longer in their ability to perform a task repeatedly for an indefinite amount of time. Any of those jobs that do remain are typically filled quickly.

There are millions of people who have found themselves without any work to do. Not because they aren’t out there trying to find it, but because – in many cases – the work simply doesn’t exist.

Businesses and entire states (and in some instances, countries) have become aware of this change. Their solution has been to create jobs where the value of a person is now their ability to think!

Voila, due to the shift in technology and resources, creativity has become a crucial responsibility for mass amounts of people.

The most common jobs that have cropped up are sales or marketing, where creativity is required to out-sell competition and to capture the attention of a society where attention spans are already overwhelmed by ads, blog posts, games, apps, TV shows, social networks, txt messaging, and more.

Copywriting, advertising, SEO, graphic design, web development, app design and development, engineering, video production, and more, are all moving parts of marketing and sales giants that are controlling the old machines that we used to have to pull levers on or crunch numbers around.

These aren’t all the jobs out there, of course, but they make up a large chunk of what many people just coming into the job industry are doing.

Even in education creativity has shifted. Again, because the jobs of the future don’t need people who can simply solve for 2+2. Jobs of tomorrow require students that can think creatively, laterally, and about things educational institutions haven’t even yet seen.

Is it really any surprise, then, that in 2012 the business networking site LinkedIn declared “creativity” as the #1 “overused buzzword”. Of 135 million working professionals, creativity was the one word that the majority of them decided to use on their resume. But is it really just a buzzword if it’s one of the leading factors of today’s economy?

Another type of person has come out of the shadows now too though: the true creative class.

Those of us who take pride in doing authentic creative work for a living.

We’re the artists who have setup shop on Etsy or Big Cartel, the authors who have self published to Amazon and Lulu, the film-makers who have been seen by millions of people. Musicians, inventors, contemporary artists, designers, actors, engineers, all striving to incorporate ourselves into a world that is now extremely creativity-based.

It makes sense why we have sites like Kickstarter suddenly swelling up into the mainstream. And why small teams like that of Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and more are driving innovation.

Creativity itself has become a sellable commodity too. There are countless books, apps, movies, blogs, consultants, and entire businesses, all focused on creativity itself as a source of growth and profit.

Some of those resources and individuals are honest and do help the creative community. My work, for example. Others are obviously after a quick dollar and don’t provide much value to anyone.

I envision a not-too-distant future where creativity and creative education act as the business model and drive an entire industry themselves. It’s why I’m focusing more of my time on creating apps to drive and fuel creativity, like Prompts for writing and Oflow for inspiration.

Despite the seemingly sudden influx of creativity in the world, the act itself – of having new ideas – hasn’t changed. It’s the same as it has been for thousands of years. So while there are people who decide to use it as such, creativity is certainly not just a gimmick. It’s not snake oil. It’s immensely valuable.

Creativity is just a part of the increasingly strange world you and I get to be part of. And it’s only going to become more of an asset as technology like that behind 3D printers and wearable computers becomes more readily available.

If you’re already a creative, I hope you’re excited about the changes and what’s to come. It means we have more opportunities to provide more value and do more of what we love. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever had that chance like we do today.

I, for one, am proud of my creativity and that of the creative communities I’m involved with.

Creativity is the age we live in now. If you don’t yet: better start loving it.

Photo by JD Hancock.