Establishing a “Creatives Clubhouse” Doesn’t Really Help Anybody

Written by Mike Shapiro | | April 20, 2017

It’s understandable that writers, graphic designers and visual artists would want to have a way to describe what they do. It seems like those who call themselves developers and engineers get all the attention. There’s always a warm welcome for those who write the code for the apps we depend on and the games we play, making everyone else feel like we’re missing out on the fun.

So, it seems natural to want to create our own place of exclusivity — a “clubhouse” for us — by taking on an umbrella name: Creatives.

But does that serve anyone well?

Does it make those whose work product is something to be read or seen feel special? Maybe in the short run. But it can also be interpreted as a hall-pass from the analytical aspects required of any kind of work.

Does it help those we hope will appreciate and pay for our services? Consumers want their problems solved, to be persuaded, informed or entertained. Labeling yourself as a “creative” isn’t likely to get the meaningful attention of anyone with a need to be met or to convince them to pay you for a solution.

It surely doesn’t do anything much for the folks who are left out — the engineers, coders or business operations managers, except maybe provide an excuse for not bringing new thinking to the work they do.

In a blog post from some time ago, Jeff Goins said a number of the attendees at an arts conference were describing themselves as creatives by virtue of their professions as artists, writers and poets. But he urges a broader definition:

“Creatives help us see life in a new light — to perceive a new dimension, a deeper way of encountering what we know. And we need more of those kinds of leaders.”

If we’re going to have a clubhouse, maybe it ought to be one that invites everybody — no matter what kind of work they do — to be an artist.

In discussing creativity in her excellent book, Art Thinking, author Amy Whitaker, adapts the definition of a work of art from Martin Heidegger’s 1947 essay “The Origin of the Work of Art”:

“A work of art is something new in the world that changes the world to allow itself to exist.”

Everyone has a solemn obligation to be curious, to ask questions, to look for a deeper meaning in every aspect of our work: What’s the real challenge or problem here? What is really needed to solve it the right way? What can I do — right here, right now — to make something good happen?

There’s a lot to talk about here. What do you think?