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Being A Creative Is Harder Than You Think

Being A Creative Is Harder Than You Think

I think there’s a lot of misinformation about how hard being a creative is. Yes, there is little pay; yes, the industries are hard to get your foot in the door, this we know; but apart from that, being a creative is largely seen as the easier career choice. Yes, I’m talking about you bankers, hedge fund managers, doctors, teachers, whoever else has a “real” job that works long hours.

The thing is, what non-creatives don’t take into consideration, that usually creativity takes time. You don’t see immediate results. People only see the final product of your work – the piece of art, the sculpture, the book, the movie. What they don’t see is the hours upon hours of (usually unpaid) work, the slaving away trying to create something which may or may not be received well.

I remember last year, I had started a project at the beginning of Covid that hadn’t even been released until just a few months ago, and regardless of the countless hours I put in, the people around me thought I was faffing about doing nothing – because I had nothing to show them.

That’s the thing with creative industries. Our final work is so tangible and impactful that’s it’s hard for non-creatives to understand that 99% of the work put in to create those tangible, impactful final products, is in fact invisible. It is not seen, so it is not appreciated, and we are made to feel like we are treading water going nowhere until suddenly, we aren’t.

The amount of time and effort that goes into acting: searching for opportunities, auditions, even making TV shows only for them never to be green-lighted and therefore never see the light of day. Just because you can’t see the final result does not mean that those actors didn’t work. They work hard, and for little to nothing – it just proves that pursuing a career as a creative is not for just anyone. We are know we will be working hard, we know we’ll get paid little, we know we may not even get these opportunities, and we know we may not succeed.

People become creatives because they have to, because they can’t imagine doing anything else, and because it’s what they’re good at. Back when I worked at British Vogue, it was always easy to root out the passionate ones, as we worked long hours for relatively low pay, and the ones who just weren’t passionate about it just… didn’t come back!

Genuinely, one intern set out to the different building under the guise of forgetting his docket folder and just literally didn’t come back, and we never saw him again. You are only doing it because you absolutely love it, otherwise what’s the point?

I think being a creative should not be underestimated. We all work, we all slog, and we all strive to create amazing things that the entire world turns to in dark times. Trust us when we say we’re working on something – you may not be able to see it, but we’re living it, and it’s coming. Oh, and maybe pay us a little more…

See Also

Charles Jourdan ad, Spring 1979, by Guy Bourdain