When was the last time someone told you they really liked your work? What about the last time someone told someone else they really liked your work – are you able to think of that? And… What about the last time you told someone that you really liked someone else’s work – do you know when that was?
We like to think that our creative communities – of whichever ones we become a part – are diverse; and that these celebrate and encourage this diversity… But, if they are, and they do, then shouldn’t this encompass diversity in all its forms? We don’t just mean, for example, diversity of gender identity, nationality and race, but also diversity of idea and emotion, of creative process and creative practice.
To us, a creative community means a naturally diverse group of inter-, multi- and transdisciplinary practitioners, participating actively in collaboration and co-operation for mutual benefit, prioritising the exchange of advice, knowledge and support over competition, influence and status. This type of community-based and driven thinking and doing has brought us this far, to a point where the creative industries contribute significantly to cultural, societal and political development – not to mention local and national economies – so why does it feel as if we’re gently moving away from this?
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen a number of independent and small-to-medium business, encompassing artists, artisans, craftspeople, designers, makers and all manner of other categories of creative professional come under fire from colleagues, contemporaries and peers alike for using their professional platforms to express political sentiments. We just want to take a couple of minutes to reassure you that it’s OK for you to be political on your professional platforms, or via any other method of communication you have with your customers, partners or suppliers, for example.
There’s great pressure to approach January rested, relaxed, renascent, rejuvenated… And whatever other benign R-word you can think of. Retromingent, perhaps? No. Probably not. Many manage to achieve this, after a week or so away from the desk and the pressures of the nine to five and some are raring to get back to the routine. Huh. More R-words.
In my first post for The Five to Nine, I spoke a little about not being particularly certain about the direction I wanted to take as I worked towards building a portfolio career in the creative industries. Well, there was once a time when I had quite a good idea of what I wanted to do. I was certain that, if I managed it, I would be living The Dream – my dream. It became clear that this dream wasn’t going to come true quite quickly, but I held on to the smallest piece of hope for five years. I clutched it to myself with such ferocity that it exhausted me. It drained me. This piece of hope became corrupted, and I ended up miserable and afraid for what would become of me because this dream didn’t come true, but I didn’t want to let go of it because I was even more scared of what it would mean if I did. Well, on 26 June 2016, nearly five years to the day since the idea came to me in a burst of inspiration and excitement, I suddenly let go. I’d not planned it; it just happened. And it felt good. Actually, it felt great. No – even more: the whole experience was formidable.
I remember when I first thought about a career in the creative industries, and what shape that might take – and part of me thinks I should feel some modicum of embarrassment or shame in admitting this, but I can’t bring myself to feel either these days. Mind you, there’s no pride in it, either; it’s simply a fact, part of my history, and if I start rewriting that in order to present myself to people as the kind of person to whom I think they’ll respond, then there’s no point in, well… Anything. Starting with honesty, as accurate and complete as memory will allow, is really the only way to start this story.