In the latest instalment of Future Imperfect, Sven Johnson has been trying to unearth the roots of a creativity myth.
Why is it that we tend to see the creative professions as the province of the young, when there’s so much evidence to the contrary?
I spend a fair amount of time on design-related forums and, as a relatively senior designer, tend to answer quite a few questions posted by relatively young people considering a design profession. As it turns out – since so few “digital natives” seem to understand what “Search” means – many questions are repeats. One particular repeat goes something like this:
“I’m 27 years old and figure I’m too old to enter a creative profession, but can’t imagine being a [insert profession here] for the rest of my life; is there any chance I could become a [insert creative professional title here]?“
Most repeat questions are irritating, but I’ve read that one so many times it’s now become a source of bewilderment.
I can understand parents steering their children to “safe” careers (even though it seems as if such careers are dwindling in number), but what I don’t understand is something altogether different: the outdated and unsubstantiated belief that creativity – and, by extension, traditionally creative occupations – are for the young. Maybe I’m being dense, but I don’t see a definitive and exclusive connection.
Truth be told – considering some of the uncreative stuff I see in the portfolios of young, newly graduating designers – I can’t imagine how this creative myth ever gained traction. There are plenty of youngsters that seem to me to be so creatively challenged I’m not sure age, experience or a paint-by-numbers set is going to help them.
Furthermore, this bias seems especially odd considering a) it has nothing to do with financial security, b) many people looking to move into such careers often already have “safe” college degrees, and c) there are so many examples disproving it. Consider the following:
- Pablo Picasso‘s amazing “Guernica” was painted when he was in his 50’s.