Never Not Creative is a community of creatives who want to make our industry a better place. We hope to support, inspire and come together to create the ideas, tools and solutions that improve the wellbeing of everyone in the industry and promote the value of creativity in the world.
Some of the issues we’re facing
During our pre-launch phase, we heard from people from all over the world. We asked, “What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing the creative industry — and you as a creative within it?”.
We received a good variety of answers, but some very clear themes emerged.
Stress and burnout
It’s no secret, and perhaps no surprise, that a bunch of perfectionists work their arses off for something that they love doing. We love creating new. We love creating better. We love seeing our work out in the world.
But it comes at a price. The pressure of constantly trying to solve problems that others couldn’t, to generate hundred’s of ideas to maybe land on one, to please clients at all costs — it comes at a price.
Choosing work over family or friends, choosing work over sleep, work over dinner, work over exercise. It’s not healthy and it’s not sustainable. And it certainly doesn’t improve your chances of finding that one golden creative solution that cracks the problem — or gives you the sense of satisfaction that you crave.
No. Instead, you end up calling in sick. You’re told to take time off. You’re moved onto another project. It’s a rapid spiral down from there. Maybe, this sounds extreme. But, unfortunately, many of you are probably nodding, having experienced it or witnessed it in a friend / colleague.
We may think that we’re in control. That we put this pressure on ourselves, and maybe we do. But, we’re also fulfilling an expectation. An expectation that we’ll work the hours, generate the ideas and choose work over life, clients over friends and family, and experience and profile over justified financial return.
When you read these last few paragraphs back, it sounds extreme. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
Many of you cited that cashflow, getting paid and charging for work was your biggest issue. “Charging for work!” It’s head-scratchingly infathomable, that one of the issues we’re facing is being able to charge for what we do.
What causes this? Our own sense of worth? Exploitation by superior business savvy? An overwhelming need to please? An argument that we’ve successfully been having with ourselves for decades — that building profile is better than building profit?
We’ve given work away for free at the same time that other professional services will charge in 6 minute increments for a phone call.
Arguably, as one respondent put it, we haven’t done a good enough job of proving the value that we can create.
As an industry, one of the models we frequently use is ‘time and materials.’ We estimate the time it will take to come up with ideas and create assets. But, clients buy the deliverables, the assets — so really they couldn’t care less about how much time we spend.
Often, this formula can be expressed as: time to create ≠ assets delivered
The challenge? Try guessing how long it might take to solve a problem. Try justifying that you need an extra week to solve one problem, when the last problem you solved took you half as long. Try putting a value on the years of experience and success of past problems solved.
Try doing all of this when some (maybe less well educated) clients see design competition websites, students looking to get experience and make a name for themselves, and take advantage of lots of ideas for a much reduced price.
Of course, there will always be a high and a low end to any industry. Proving our worth, for those that want to, is the challenge we’d like to undertake at Never Not Creative.
Isolation and rejection
More and more of us are considering, or have leapt into more flexible work opportunities. Freelancing is nothing new in our industry, but it’s certainly getting more popular. Some sources have stated that half of us will be freelancing (in some form or another) by 2020.
It sounds great. Choose who you work for and when, on your terms, not theirs. You can work remotely, live in your dream city or on your dream island — we’re pretty much at the accelerated segment of the technology curve that’s already allowing that to happen.
So there are plenty of pro’s. But, as some have already found, there are also some con’s. One of the largest of those, especially from a remote working sense, is the feeling of isolation.
Creativity is hard at the best of times. You can be with your team, banging heads against a brick wall, struggling to find something unique — but more often than not, one of you hits on an idea, or sparks an idea for someone else. It’s a rollercoaster, but you get there collectively in the end.
When you’re on your own, the buck stops at you. There’s no-one to bounce off. No-one else to save the day, apart from you. The freedom that you thought you had found can be whisked away by creative block, or negative feedback and rejection.
If the world continues to go in this direction, we have to do more to prepare for it. Some of this may need to be addressed in education. How are we preparing creatives for the reality that they’re likely to be their own business? How are we preparing the new freelancers and sole-traders to negotiate with clients, set their rates, not give work away for free? How can we help each other with advice, mentorship and whatever other solutions we can come up with as a community?
There is no doubt that we chose the creative industry for a reason. The opportunity to be challenged and excited everyday is fuel for our creative fire. Watching people play with, use and consume what we create can deliver immense satisfaction. We are not in dire straits as an industry. Design in particular is elevating its status in businesses, society and government.
This is why now is the perfect time to affect change. The perfect time to come together and have reasonable debates for fairer outcomes in our industry.
What will we do through Never Not Creative?
- Provide the framework and support for community driven discussion, debate and solutions.
- Collaboratively create pledges and standards that creatives and their customers can sign up to.
- Create and support projects that focus on improving outcomes for the industry.
- Create and share resources that anyone in the industry can access and adapt for free.
What can you do?
Here are a few ways that you can get involved.
- Join our Facebook group
- Contribute to the discussion around the Pledge initiative
- Contribute a post
- Let us know about an industry challenge that you’d like to discuss
Never Not Creative is a not-for-profit initiative supported by Streamtime, project management software for humans - not robots - in the creative industry. Streamtime supports us with time and resources dedicated to building the NNC community — there is no intended commercial outcome or KPIs. A better creative industry, is better for the world, and Streamtime would like to see a better world.