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Why aren’t creative careers taken more seriously?

Lucy Drown


Hands working as a freelance designer on a desk

Art has always been a passion of mine since I was a young girl. But, like most people with long-standing interests and hobbies, it’s rare that I have the time to draw and create what I enjoy—until lockdown, that is. Lockdown allowed me and many others to explore their interests and take some time for themselves. Although the world seemed like a scary place—every day, I heard about more Covid-19 related deaths—drawing was my haven. Whenever I put pencil to paper, whatever was happening in the outside world didn’t matter. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

Like many other people, I relied heavily on TV shows, music, drawing, and the occasional podcast to get through the first few months of lockdown.  Actors, podcasters, directors and musicians are creative professionals who have pursued their art as a career; by consuming this media you are essentially supporting their career choice.

Sign on a pub wall

Sign on a pub wall
Art on a wall

Art is everywhere. No matter how hard you try, you could never shut it out. The houses we live in, the buildings we work in, the cars we drive…these are all created by designers with visions of how things should look and function.  Art influences society—it can change opinions and instil values. Research has even shown that art affects the fundamental sense of self.

It came to my attention during lockdown that most people’s perception is that ‘creative jobs aren’t real jobs’. That art isn’t important and has no benefit to our mental health, which is simply not true. Children are encouraged to try creative tasks in school, such as drawing and painting, dance or acting clubs. Once they’re young adults, however, ready to make choices about their career, they’re discouraged from entering creative industries, yet art is the foundation of most sectors. A lot of people, oblivious to the hypocrisy, criticise the arts then happily trot off to the cinema to watch the latest action film, with its graphics designed and brought together by another raft of artists.

When I told my family I wanted to take A-Level Art, Photography and Graphic Design, I was highly discouraged. They said, ‘How will you get a real job if you take those subjects?’ They saw my choices as irresponsible. And, so, I changed my mind. I was naïve and worried about what the future would hold for me if I pursued my passion as a career. I now know that there are many creative jobs that bring a decent living, but these don’t seem to be spoken about very often.

How boring would life be without museums, theatres, music, art, theatre and film production? It would mean no escape from the harsh reality of life for a lot of people. Studies have even shown that people ‘who had attended a cultural place or event in the last 12 months were almost 60% more likely to report good health, compared to those who had not’.

Based on the growing evidence of the arts as a tool for enhancing mental health and wellbeing, we can only hope that people will begin to appreciate the hard work and effort put in by workers within creative industries all over the world, who make life a little easier to manage for the rest of us.

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