What a strange time to be a creative. If ten years ago it was already awkward to explain to your parents what you did for a living ('So you don't actually hold the camera?'), these days it's become nearly impossible.
As creatives, very little of our time nowadays is spent writing flawless scripts, designing layouts worthy of an art gallery or even coming up with big ideas. Attention to detail has been replaced by a new type of craft - the ability to make the impossible happen.
Back in the nineteen noughties, Mark Twain stated the death of new ideas. Ninety years later, Steve Jobs famously proclaimed creativity was all about connections. These days, beyond recycling old concepts and making surprising associations, the modern creative is expected to bring three disparate messages together, package them under an elusive ‘umbrella' thought, in a tone of voice that is equally appealing to a housewife in Mexico and a millennial in Singapore, and bends across four different media platforms. Now try explaining that to your parents. Or anyone, really.
As much as we like to think that in some dimension our trade is still the same as that of the Peggy Olsons or Don Drapers of this world, the reality is that a clever one liner poster or an uncomfortably long comedic pause haven't been seen outside the confines of international award judging rooms since 1993.
Today we create with filters, lenses, emojis. The bulk of our work is admired on five-inch screens and assessed by the neuro waves it elicits. And… robots. Yet, as daunting as it sounds, there are perks. Finding reference has never been as quick or as easy. Inspiration from the most obscure sources is, non-metaphorically speaking, at our fingertips. Collaborations are progressively becoming mutually rewarding. And, finally, long hours have started to be frowned upon.
We may not be churning exquisitely crafted long copy ads, but we can build statues that start worldwide conversations. Create campaigns that get millions of people exercising. We can create alternate realities that help change perceptions. We can even be heard by a billion people, if you believe in the impression fairy. And we can still make people laugh with a cheap joke, if that’s your thing.
What a great time to be a creative.
Ana Balarin is executive creative director at Mother London and a lead judge at this year's Campaign Big Awards