A good friend of mine once told me “creatives can never be truly happy in an office environment.” Having recently started a new job, I was quick to disagree. I feel happy and creative where I am. My writing skills are being used and improved. on top of that, they have invested in me, paying for me to attend classes for InDesign and other software. Creative work is digital as much as otherwise these days. The painter and his canvas is just as creative as the graphic artist with Photoshop. Perhaps we are coming upon a new world where creatives can not only be happy in an office, but thrive.
When I was in college, I had the fortune of working for a local newspaper. Part of this job involved interviews with outstanding students nominated by people in the community. One such student was a boy fascinated with art. He told a story worthy of a Lifetime special. Family life wasn’t easy and he didn’t care how well he did in school. He wasn’t even sure he cared to graduate high school. Then he discovered art. When I met with him, he showed me all these great works he had done, using different art styles. He knew the names of classic artists and talked adamantly about his inspiration. Suddenly, he had purpose. He could see his future. Yes, he would graduate high school. He would even go to college…
…to study graphic art.
I felt for the kid. As I spoke with him about his career options as an artist, I knew he had gotten the same comments I did when I told people I was going into Journalism. “You can’t survive on a degree like that,” they say. “You’ll never get a job.” The boy was smart, though. He knew just like I knew. People needed him. Someone needed to make corporate logos, design newsletters and create content for photo stock websites. Somewhere, if not everywhere, people needed a graphic artist. I’m not sure where he ended up, but I wish him the best. That smart kid knew how to turn his passion into an old-fashioned career. I’d be willing to bet he goes home and has a room dedicated to his canvas as well.
Would a creative be content in a paper pushing desk job where they did nothing but work and came home with no energy to dedicate to their hobbies? Probably not. That’s not the fate of every creative, artistic mind in this digital age, though. Perhaps industrialization made life as an artist a little bleak, but things have changed. The most popular social media posts have photos. Businesses are scrambling for bloggers and content writers who can spread their message across the interwebs. There is a place for the creative in an office.
My specific office is rather old-fashioned and it provides an interesting contrast to my position. Social media is blocked across the office (well, Facebook and Twitter are blocked. You can access literally everything else). It is the type of place where things are the way they are because they have always been the way they are. This hasn’t stopped them from chasing progress, which is where I come in. They see the need to build a web presence, to engage on social media and bring new ideas into the office. Good thing I put “Idea Generation” under my skill sets!
The world isn’t just about business anymore. The world is changing and it seems to be changing in favor of the creatives. Just add a little technology to the paint and canvas, pen and paper, and you’ll be ready for a fruitful career.
Do you think creatives can be happy in a typical office? How do you define a creative? Where do you see the world tilting in favor of artistic people? Will it tilt back any time soon, or is the need for creatives here to stay?