The creative industries encompass a wide range of activities, some of which rely heavily on public funding, others are commercially viable. A life in the creative industry can range from practising as a full-time artist, writer or performer; as a creative director or manager in the arts or cultural sector; working in a venue, event space, gallery or museum; or it may involve work as a practitioner in the wider creative sector in areas such as graphic design, audio-visual production, creative advertising and marketing (think Mad Men). The people who write scripts for TV adverts or articles for newspapers, the researchers and producer for a radio programme, and the names that appear beside exotic-sounding job titles like Concept Artist, Best Boy and Key Grip – they all get paid! These numerous and diverse areas make up what we call the creative industries.
Acting | Advertising & Marketing | Animation | Architecture | Circus | Creative Media Technology | Design & Visual Communications | Digital Media | Fashion | Film & Television | Galleries & Libraries | Heritage & Museums | Journalism | Literature | Marketing | Music Production | Photography | Publishing Radio | Theatre | Visual Art
As the Irish economy recovers, so to are the creative industries. Funding bodies such as the Arts Council and Culture Ireland find themselves with more money for artists and arts organisations; the government, through its Creative Ireland programme has committed to making Ireland an international hub for film and TV production, and will invest in community arts and children’s creative education. Ireland has also become a hub for digital media development and animation – commercially successful entities competing on the international stage. International corporations like Facebook and Google set up in Ireland citing a creative workforce as one of the main reasons for locating here. Advertising and marketing firms engage in new ways to creatively communicate messages to their audiences – be it through print, audio, video, digital or social media. Indigenous animation firms like Brown Bag Films and Boulder Media are making a splash on the international stage. Increased visitor numbers to Ireland means more attendees for festivals, events, galleries and museums. And international opportunities and exposure for writers and artists is greater than ever. Things are once again looking up for the creative sector in Ireland.
A career in the creative industries offers the chance to express yourself, achieve your creative vision and live an original life. It’s an opportunity to build a career based on your own passions and interests, and surround yourself with like-minded people, or progress a social or political agendas through creative means.
Personal Characteristics and skills required to make it in the creative sector
Ideas Oriented: people who can generate original and engaging ideas – be it ideas for next year’s creative programme of events or ideas for alternative sources of funding or income. Lateral thinking is highly prized.
Good Communication Skills: people who are able to communicate their ideas, to convince their team that their ideas will succeed, or who can convince external partners or funding bodies that their ideas are worth investing in and achievable.
Budget Oriented: most creative organisations work to tight budgets. They have more good ideas than they have money to spend. Therefore, an ability to cost ideas and spend budgets effectively is essential.
Diplomatic: most creatives work as part of a team. Diplomatic personalities are required to bring creative partners or funding bodies on board, and to keep their own team onside and personally invested in their ideas. At events, exhibitions or premieres, creatives regularly play host to guests and industry professionals.
Organised: creative teams work on a project by project basis, to specific budgets and timelines. Creative and cultural leaders need to plan for all eventualities, predict potential pitfalls, and employ the right staff at the right time to ensure a successful outcome.
You’ll also need…
Industry knowledge: knowledge of key funding bodies, the most influential organisations and key players and significant technology or policy changes in the industry. Keeping up to date with relevant magazines, journals, TV and radio shows, and websites is essential, as is attending industry events, festivals and conferences to keep in touch with your peers.
Creative knowledge: If you’re interested in producing computer games, do you know the latest trends and technological advance in the industry? If you want to work as a visual arts curator, you will need practical or academic knowledge of leading artists or movements in your field – are you reading the latest journals and regularly attending exhibitions to keep in touch with current movements, locally and internationally?
Sectoral-specific skills: some industries will require industry-specific skill sets. For example, to work in design or visual communications you may need to know your way around the Adobe suite; or to work in radio production, you will need to have some experience operating technical and audio programmes and equipment. However, if you’re transferring from a different industry, you may have some very valuable skills which many creative organisations lack. For example, book-keeping, design or web development skills, or a working knowledge of Irish or additional foreign languages are often highly prized too.
Perseverance: getting a job in the arts or creative sector isn’t as easy as getting a job in, say, a bank. This is because there are lots of other people trying to turn their passion into their career. Therefore, there is generally more demand for jobs than there is supply. If you’re trying to make it as an artist, it may take a number of years before you build a reputation and produce work of a certain quality. If you want to become a creative or cultural organiser or leader, or land a job on a film set, you might have to take up a number of volunteer/intern positions or administrative roles before working your way up the ladder. Another way of getting ahead is to create your own projects in order to gain the necessary experience.
A short video from Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates for inspiration: https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/280025/advice-on-writing-from-i-the-atlantic-i-s-ta-nehisi-coates/