Is original expression a luxury we can’t afford?

adobe creative week registration

Register for Adobe Creative Week

By Jonny Evans

A series of online symposia marking Adobe’s Creative Week event begins July 9. In the prelude to the show, Adobe has published extensive research which reveals that while creativity seems more important than ever, only one-in-three creative professionals feel they’re getting the chance to fully realise their potential. That’s tragically ironic: economic malaise and global gloom means creative pros are being asked to be more productive than ever, but the focus increasingly seems on quantity, not quality, reading between the lines.

The State of Create report tells us that over three quarters (78 per cent) agree creativity is key to driving economic growth but just a third (35 per cent) feel they are living up to their creative potential. Being a creative professional isn’t just about pounds and productivity, though: Adobe reveals that 78 percent of us feel that being able to create makes a difference to their lives; 71 percent say it defines who they are as a person while 68 percent say they derive a sense of belonging from the creative act.

The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport estimates (December 2011) the creative industry accounts for 10.6 percent of the UK’s exports of services. Creativity isn’t just good for the economy, either, 1.5 million people are employed in the creative industries. That’s 5.1 percent of those people who are employed in the UK.

Expression versus productivity

This suggests the power to create mini masterpieces in any digital medium isn’t just about fulfilling client obligation, but also about creating a space in the world. Creative expression stretches the psychic envelope. Adobe’s survey suggests creativity is about personal empowerment; self-realisation; self-actualisation. And, like all such attempts to forge a little slice of identity within a homogenous planet, there’s plenty to get in the way, typical barriers include:

— Education: Many creatives think creativity is stifled by the education system.

— Lack of time: Almost half of those surveyed by Adobe think there isn’t the time to be creative.

— Lack of cash: 42 percent of creatives say they can’t afford to be creative — a shame when you consider the personal and societal benefits of the creativity biz.

Perhaps the biggest pressure is the need to be productive.

An astonishing 88 percent of creative pros complain they’re under huge pressure (and it’s growing) to be productive, rather than to be creative.

Technology and the social network

Can technology help enable creative expression while also satisfying enterprise in its need to be productive? Anecdotally, the impact of technology has been to create a situation in which more is asked of a smaller pool of talent. Adobe notes that 53 percent of creatives already see technology as the single most important factor inspiring them to create.

You need good tools if you want to realise abstract ideas here in the physical plane, so it’s no surprise that many (67%) see technological tools as the most influential factor to help them boost their own creativity. The Internet is also a big influences: social media is driving a new form of creative renaissance. 48 percent of creatives spoken to by Adobe for its survey note the ability to share work via social media is important, with 12 percent saying this new era of immediate communication between friends and strangers is inspiring them to create.

Speaking at the recent Le Web conference, TV chef Jamie Oliver spoke up for creativity in the social media era. Oliver believes social media is a vehicle for passionate expression of ideas. “Content is key,” he said, likening the creation of it to the challenges of making a “hit song”. “You don’t always know what will work,.” As a creative thinker, Oliver explains, “Everything I do is driven by creative ideas, if they’re good enough, I’m going to make money. If not, then not.”

Also at Le Web, Bonin Bough, Kraft’s vice president of global digital and consumer engagement, said: “I think there’s a renaissance of creativity about to happen….what we’re seeing now is nothing in contrast to what we’ll see in future.”

With its focus on social media, Le Web confirmed that big business is anxious to stake a claim in the social networks. Adobe’s study also confirms a drive among creative folk to embrace the space. Naturally, the two sides want different things: Business wants bucks; creatives want a chance to do what they do, but as the social world reveals a growing demand among consumers for original content (a la Jamie Oliver), it’s possible this new business driver will open up new opportunity for self-expression in a digitally-connected age: could this mean a new gold rush for digital creatives? That’s got to be part of the conversation at next week’s Creative Week event.

It’s not too late to join the creative debate, get involved and share your views register at


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About Neeley Casserly, Dreamtek.

Group Marketing Director Dreamtek UK & UAE and The Virtual Forge Connect with Neeley and Dreamtek on Google+

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