Who are These Creatives? Wait. What’s the curse about?
“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
Come on, girls especially. No, not just them but everyone else who asks “what exactly keeps you in this town buddy?” I get that question more times in a single day than we have done national census collective times since independence. One day I remember some girl asked “Tony what do you do for a living?” and the gods of moods were up above the clouds plus I had dozens of minutes to waste away. So I told her I am a potter. And explained further “I make pots from clay imported from Kisii for money” She lost it and walked off. It hurts my ego. I remain rooted with my dry joke complete with my minutes to waste on myself. I felt like walking down to and from Nakuru on foot that fateful day! I convinced myself she was not interested in pots. Not in me. It gave me a pint of energy to hit home. This question, what do you do for a living when looked at plainly is perhaps etiquette wrapped way of asking “How do you get your money?” If you asked me how Creatives earn a living, I will gleefully answer back “by being creative” How? Confusing, right? Read on…
By definition, creatives come about as a person and rather people to that extent whose work entail creative job. To be a creative will demand and or ask that one has the ability and or power to create. By assertion, human beings are very creative animals. While there they say there is a difference between human beings and being human. Just a couple will get this. Creatives are productive since theirs is a process of creating. They are characterized by expressiveness and originality of thought process; kind of being imaginative which will be expressed in their pieces of works like as would be creative writing. While talking about creatives, such words as; ‘creatively, creativeness, creativity’ will pop out.
A creative, we are told, sees the world just a little bit different from others (the rest of us). In seeing the world in a way not same as ours, a creative becomes a person who will not fit in any box (think of that boardroom jargon of sijui ‘thinking outside the box’) To what extend society might think of creatives as iconoclasts (a person who attacks or criticizes cherished beliefs or institutions); whereas others see them as rebels (think of Alfred Keter in a sentence. Observe one minute of silence for him!) Creatives design or tend to stimulate imagination. They are characterized by being sophisticated bending of the rules or conventions (creative accounting) it could be what earns them the rebel tag but primarily causes them to set a new standard to follow. A creative is a thought leader. They influence people not necessarily through personality but through their innate gifts and talents. A creative colors outside the lines. On purpose. In so doing, they show the world a whole new picture they never would have otherwise seen.
It will be an idle afternoon. Business will be low. The phone lying untouched on working table will vibrate finally. You will pick. It will be a lady. Not that we should be excited about it. Haloo? She will go straight to the point. She will explain in about two sentences how she got your number through a friend of hers who recommended your work. It will sound familiar. She will proceed to say that she got some small job she needs done by you. She will bold and italicize ‘Small’ it will ring a bell. She will want to explain over the phone what the work entails. She will not be as comprehensive though. You are prompted to intercept asking “what about you just place all that explanation on email then we pick it up?” “What is your email address I ask?” It will push her to the next step. The rubber is about to hit the road. The phone conversation is about to get summer hot. You are about to feel that ear piece pierce some guy is sinking a tattoo! She will feel composed. She will spell that email address again to confirm that it still belongs to you. You will nod then tell her its indeed yours after all, yahoo users no longer exist! She will quip “How much will it cost me?” She will pause and continue “Just give me a figure” You will go “Could I please get the job description as sent on email then send through a rate card before we commit on timelines, we can still discuss at that point.” It will not rest well with her consent. She will argue on “See, dear (Like you grew up together) it’s your friend who referred me to you. She told me you charge favorably (Price wars ensue) plus you deliver excellent jobs (ego massaged)” In between you will throw a glance at your wall clock and realize it has been a whole thirty minute call. What would Trump Say of this? ‘Be very nervous!’ “…so please just give me a good rate. I will obviously give you more jobs going forward. For your information my (billionaire friends my own words hehe) are waiting to work with you as well. How much?” She will insist. “Okay. What about I still send through the rate card then we discuss?” You will stick to your lane. She is a born fighter. She will not loosen grip. “I understand. But could you give a rough figure. Like tentatively. We can discuss downwards.” You will be moved to let her win this. She is speaking with an accent. It will tip you to quote in dollars. “Yes, am going to send through a rate card but for that work am asking $150. We can discuss upwards” You will say with an air of finality. She will exclaim forcing you to imagine Jesus just showed back from her end. Judgment day? You will wonder. She will break into a monotone and rant her liver out! “See this is just little work. Plus I had already started working on it. In fact I could have just done it by myself save for the company reports waiting on my desk way past deadline. No way you are charging me that much! You did not even charge my friend as much. It’s unfair. Give me something better or am out!” Such will only add to statistics of similar scenarios you put up with.
From the above narrative it’s easy to pick the line that most people don’t value creative works! Not at one pint. For a fair majority, creative work is not quantifiable and it being not quantifiable by their measures and SI units makes it not to be priced in a standard way. It hits me, the many times am seated behind my working desk at the corner of our crib typing with speed on my computer and missus can’t just fathom why i can’t just drop all that shit and we chuck out and catch up with the Black Panthers of this town somewhere across the Wakanda Kingdom. It opens a Pandora’s Box of what exactly do creatives do? For many it’s a mystery. For some, they are just a bunch of chaps clung to the allure of their boring hobbies not willing to come out and chase real careers! But for a chosen few, they are a new generation of disruptors out to challenge the status quo!
Speaking of creatives not being understood or well, being misunderstood, In that Nation Interview, that lady interviewer asks what I do for a living. I tell her I am a Brand Enthusiast. She paraphrases her query and goes “What exactly do you do in this town? It puzzles me every time people ask about my career and they don’t understand and I have to explain my throat dry. It is real work. (The explanation, not my career. Sorry my career too) I remember that girl above and the Pottery joke. I kill that thought. Come on, this is the Nation. They ran the shots. They might run a killer heading just below Raila and all the NASA supporters might come baying for my blood and it might push me to the village. I put off my joking hat and wear a face more serious than breaking news. She starts to write continuously on her note book. Waving in the air by her cupped palm, she urges me to continue. I break into a monologue stopping in between to decipher whether she is still interested. “As a Brand Enthusiast, I consider myself a Creative, keen to utilize my writing art to help Brands grow. Being a creative in the field of the writing art, I am a content creator and by extension, a content deliverer. (Pause) Precisely, I write, blog, train, talk and consult on matters Branding anchored on PMP: Project Management Planning spectrums. (Pause) It’s what has inspired this blog that I consider a virtual branding school and our overall Capacity building business (Insert Branding) alongside with our Youth targeted social outreach initiative that brought me here.”
Creatives as expounded above have such an integral place in society. The whole lot of them defined and undefined. Musicians, artists, Bloggers, content creators, Brand Enthusiasts, handy-crafters, Influencers; the list is endless. The recent standoff brought out by the KOT (Kenyans On Twitter) Inspired #PayInfluencersKe that trended for days unearthed a culture instigated by brands locally where creatives are engaged on influencer gigs with absolutely no pay attached. In place of pay, creatives are promised exposure in return. Let’s all face it, there is no way exposure is going to put food on table in this town and era. If their services are of good to the brand, it means they can be appreciated in a better way. A better way could include pay or something more tangible than exposure. Breathe some lifeline to it. Not that exposure is bad but slowly but surely we are killing the creativity spark wrapped in that ‘exposure’ talk.
Is it all lost? Are we all doomed? Not until we keep silent about the things that matter! How exactly can creatives make it count? How can they exchange value for money? Could there be perhaps a better way of doing things differently? If I may ask, what are the opportunities available for creatives in this century of the attention economy? Such questions and much more hit us at the dawn of this year 2018 and we put our brains together at BizHUB and after a session of tussling over ideas, decided that we could help in our a little way by striking a conversation about it. That said, in the first quarter of the ongoing year, we have sustained a conversation at BizHUB themed “Arts, Culture and Creative” all in an effort to address some of the issues appreciated herein. It has been a successful conversation so far. In a nut shell, we have covered;
Going forward, we are covering one more session on “The Art of Freelancing” happening on Friday 16th March 2018 at Highland Platinumz on Moi avenue in the run up to the End quarter session “BIZHUB: ARTS, CULTURE AND CREATIVE” to happen at the Safaricom Michael Joseph Centre on Friday 30th March 2018. What is the conversation all about? We are delving into the industry in and out. We are looking at the backgrounds review and overview. We are discussing the industry trends. The business models. The revenue models. The overall industry SWOT aspect (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) we are appreciating the industry forecasts and the opportunities available therein. It’s like an exhaustive MBA Class. Book a seat!
PS: When time allows, have a look: