Artists disrupt. Creatives follow trends.
Sounds like a crazy thing to say, since creative and artists are the same thing right?
What does the word “creative” even mean? When you refer to a “creative”, what are you really saying? In effect, nothing.
dictionary.com defines “creative”: “having the quality or power of creating” To be honest, many of the definitions I encountered used the word “create” in some form or another. God gave us all hands with which to work, eyes to see, and a mind to invent. Even if you work in a cubicle, you create in some way or another. We are all “creative”, so when you refer to someone you perceive as artistic, calling them a “creative” doesn’t really describe anything except their humanity.
I believe we adopted this title of “creative” because it was an alternative to the pretentious word, “artist”. When someone refers to themselves as an artist, you can feel the collective rolling of eyes. Nowadays, we use the word “creative” (I’ve already said it nine times) with such nauseating frequency that I now detest the word. I have no choice but to break it down into it’s true meaning, which is nothing.
If humans naturally create, and “creative” is how we describe those who create,then all humans are creative. Using “creative” as an adjective is empty and means nothing. The word artist says something simple: That one who is labeled as an “artist” produces art. (Just like a “guitarist” plays the guitar, or an “actor” acts). Calling someone an “artist”, is actually accomplishing something— it tells us something about that person and what they do. “Creatives” create….but what do they actually make?
Throughout this series, I’m going to make an important distinction between “artist” and “creative”. Because of the constant use of the word “creative”, people and groups of people have gotten lost in that title. They believe that donning the cape makes you creative. Holding a camera makes you creative, writing in a journal makes you creative, taking painting lessons makes you creative, listening to music makes you creative, pinning boards on Pinterest makes you creative, and so on and so forth. What happens when everyone is listening to the same music, pinning the same boards, taking the same pictures, standing in front of the same white walls, and taking aerial photos of their workspace that they just dusted off for a quick photo. (I’ve done this) The “creatives” are putting themselves on a path to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but those people exist already, so trying to be them is pointless.
Think about Apple Reseller Stores (MacAuthority, Simply Mac), their success relies on being near the success of Apple. When Apple makes money from a new product, Simply Mac makes money, but they aren’t actually making any new products themselves. When Blackberry quit being on top, all of the Blackberry-centric stores went out of business, because the symbiotic relationship quit working.
Creatives rely on the success of artists: They create within the boundaries set by an artist. VSCO (Visual Supply Company), is a prime example of this. They did an awesome thing in bringing accurate film filters to digital photography. All of the sudden, there was a boom of people posting their “film” photos on Instagram. You were able to capture the look of Kodak Portra 800 or Ilford 125 or TMAX 400 almost exactly by laying a filter over your photos. VSCO built these presets to preserve photography’s heritage, yet, hipsters and “creatives” are now synonymous with VSCO. You know why? All of the sudden, there was no need for the new freelance photographers to learn photoshop; they could shoot a wedding, go home, pick some nice Portra 400 presets, and BOOM. Skill? Technique? Don’t need it now, we have a button.
There’s something a little annoying about photographers today not really knowing photoshop due to these presets, but I’ve used them and I like them. There’s nothing wrong with using them in the slightest. There is a distinction between those who only edit with VSCO presets, and those who had been creating those VSCO preset style photos long before the Visual Supply Company rose to power.
Ever notice why everyone in your social media feed are all the sudden so creative? Well, either there are millions of artists coming out of the woodwork with the dawn of social media, or there’s a trend of being a “creative” person that many people are drawn to. Notice your friend who is starting their photography business probably named [insert First and Last name here] Photography, and then think about how many of those people you know and see on a daily basis. The tools an artist uses are more accessible, but that doesn’t make the adopters of those tools “artists”.
Now this all may sound very negative, but there’s hope: “creatives” can become artists through trend following. I know many people who claim to live the life of an artist without producing anything, which is the reason for putting down the word “creative” in the first place. Through all of this exposure to the world via the internet, the access to great tools, and some failure, a “creative” can morph into an artist. Everyone has to start somewhere, and being a trend follower may just be how someone gets their start.
How can someone add purpose to their work and separate themselves from the “creatives”? They must disrupt, break out of a bubble, go against the grain, and believe in something. (easier said than done) “Artists” succeed through repetitive failure and experimentation, working to make something new and different and that’s all that matters. It’s not about looking the part as much as it’s about the creation process itself. How can you make original work when you are doing the same thing as everyone else? Artists put 100% of themselves into their work, and creatives put 100% of themselves into looking like they are putting 100% of themselves into their work.
Artists and Creatives differ in many ways when it comes down to the work being done, but once the work is there, what’s next? What does the Artist vs. Creative look like in the business world? Where does the money come in? Who will be on top in the end?
Next: Artist-Shark Rising: Lex Luthor Wears Converse Now (Coming Soon)