Creatividad y trabajo

Sé que es patético pegar un texto tal cual sin siquiera traducirlo. Por eso pido disculpas. Pero está en Quora, que no es enlazable sin estar registrado – o puede que no permanentemente – y me ha parecido de mucho interés, es una pena que se pierda pasado un tiempo. Coincido con lo que dice el autor al 100%. La creatividad no está en el trabajo que haces (ser músico vs ser fontanero) sino en cómo lo haces. Un músico que siempre toque las Cuatro Estaciones tiene menos creatividad que la señora de la limpieza del Metro.

Why is it difficult for creative people to find satisfying jobs?

Creativity is widely regarded as a valuable skill in the workplace. But in my observations, most self-described «creative» people (artists, designers, writers, musicians, actors, etc.) have trouble finding jobs that satisfy their creative needs and also pay a living wage.

It’s simple. Because people with ‘creativity’ or at least, who think themselves creative, have this idea subconsciously drilled into them from a young age that only a select number of professions are ‘creative’ – actors, writers, fashion designers, artists, musicians, writers, designers etc. This leads them to join the above-mentioned professions in droves. It also convinces people who join the ‘drone’ professions believe that they aren’t/don’t need to be creative.

I am no exception. I am one of these ‘self-described’ creative people. In the past I have been an artist, musician, graphic designer and even acted in a couple of plays. These days I write a lot, love playing the guitar, my design skills are rusty but I try to take some time out to sketch, and I despise acting and theatre now. There’s nothing wrong with having any of these skills or pursuing them passionately- however, this superficial conception that areas like these are the ‘only’ way to be creative is devastatingly misleading.

All professions benefit from creativity- but all of them are not equally ‘easy’ to be creative in. I’m working hard on improving my technical skills right now- and it’s going to take a lot of study and learning from others before I’m at a stage I can do something original on a regular basis.

(Now I’m going to get flamed and downvoted by people I don’t give a shit about- for what I say next- too bad: keep living in your little bubble)

Firstly- the professions people typically associate with creativity are saturated. Too many people trying to prove that they are the most creative individuals out there in the world. A lot of it is from hedonism, really.

They are the easiest way to be creative.

The barrier to entry is low- you don’t need much of an education to get into any of these fields. This makes people think that education and creativity are anti-thetical.

They are not analytical or mathematical. Once again, it leads to this ridiculous notion that scientific or mathematical skill is somehow detrimental to creativity- leading to such individuals to reject careers in say- Engineering, Science or Business.

Now, there’s a hint of truth to these stereotypes- a Scientist/Engineer/Manager works under a lot of constraints laid upon him by the laws of nature or economics. You can get by in some of the ‘normal’ professions by not doing anything creative at all.

People in the ‘superficially creative’ professions seem to have fewer barriers to work with, or this seems to be true. Not only this: people from these professions- actors, musicians etc, seem to get a lot more attention and lionization from society in general.

The creativity of people from other fields is ignored. The outcomes of their creativity can potentially have far, far greater reach and ramifications than even the greatest of the ‘artists’ and ‘musicians’- and the world needs more creative people making an impact in professions deemed ‘uncreative’ than they need artists. Beethoven was amazing, but if I were to measure his impact on the world it would be negligible compared to some unknown Indian pharma CEO pumping out cheap drugs for Africa. The latter’s ‘creativity’ was in exploiting a situation and setting up efficient supply chains.

The kind of creativity these professions demand is not easy (more flame material here). It requires a tremendous amount of knowledge and understanding of often extremely complex material before it can translate to creativity.

Look at your computer. Unless you have advanced degrees in electrical engineering and computer science: you have no freaking idea how it works.

Some guy built it though. Lots of guys- in fact. They visualized everything from the flow of electrons to the storage of information microscopically to the way in which you interact with the machine. That level of creativity: that is fucking incredible, and exceptionally rare.

Every time I hear Picasso or Monet or Jackson Pollock mentioned as some kind of paragon of creative thought process across all fields- I feel like socking someone in the jaw right there.

Every single component of your computer- from the rechargeable battery to the LCD display, signal modulation that lets you use wifi and communicate wirelessly, the millions of tiny transistors, the processing unit that computers and displays graphics- is a greater achievement of human creative spirit than anything Monet and Pollock did- and it’s about damn time that we start understanding that creativity is not about drawing or singing.

It’s a way of looking at things with a fresh perspective. Anything. Even business, or medicine or engineering which are seen to be for ‘geeks/nerds/preps’.
These professions can often become quite mechanical, yes, but that’s why they need creative thinkers who are willing to take on the challenge.

It’s easy to be creative if you’re an actor or musician. Anyone with a mediocre skillset can claim to be superficially ‘creative’ in this sense and be acknowledged as such by society. Art and music and writing give me a lot of peace of mind, and keep me mentally stimulated and receptive to new ideas. I have created some great art, I have composed songs that I am in love with.

But I would have to be a masturbatory fool to think that this was somehow ‘more creative’ than the people who created Quora, Google, Microsoft or Amazon- or any of the hundreds of startups trying to solve problems in ways that I could never have even thought of.

It’s hard to be creative if you’re an engineer or businessman or mathematician or a system builder of any sort- you have deadlines and constraints to meet. You won’t get any respect, your creativity will neither be understood nor appreciated by the general public. Your creativity needs to survive and then thrive even after 2 or 3 decades of social conditioning that tries to turn you into a drone- of having people trying to convince you that that what you’re doing is menial, mechanical, mediocre, generic, or just generally incomprehensible.

That is rare, and that is why it is valuable.

2 comments

  1. Tenía una vaga idea sobre esto, realmente pensaba así antes de leer este texto, pero verlo así plasmado sirve para concretar el pensamiento y confirmarlo. Muchas gracias por compartirlo, da gusto ver a gente con la mente abierta de este modo (al autor del texto y a ti que lo publicas).

  2. Estupendo. Muchas gracias por compartirlo.
    En el mundo de negocios/ingeniería solemos ver al jefe/empresario como el que mata la creatividad (incluso antes de nacer).
    Este punto de vista, de la equivocación al negar la creatividad en este tipo de trabajos, me parece muy acertado.

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