There’s nothing I love more than being creative. That excitement in the moment when you grab your camera, unfold your laptop, pick up your guitar, sit at your keyboard, sharpen your pencil… or whatever fits with your particular creative ‘thing’. The blank canvas. The blinking cursor. The quiet hum of the studio. The endless opportunity it offers you to create something new and unique. In the words of Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
And creativity is so much more accessible than it used to be, especially in the digital world. My first real hobby was music (keyboards mostly, since you ask) and the music that I can create with just a laptop and plug in keyboard today was the stuff of my dreams as a 16 year old tinkering with my first synthesizer. The same is true in photography, and in film which I got interested in more recently. The tools to create, edit and share creative work are so much more affordable and easier to use, letting us focus on being creative rather than being distracted by figuring out how to get things to work.
That’s contributed to an explosion of amateur and professional creative talent. Figures from 2017 suggest that the professional creative economy in the UK is growing faster than the wider economy. 1 in 11 people employed in the UK work in the creative industry. The number of amateur creatives in the UK is much harder to estimate, but there are signs that’s growing rapidly too. As one example, the growth in ownership of smartphones has certainly encouraged more people to experiment with photography and film, and digital camera sales are rising again in 2018 as people take the next step on their creative journeys. And it’s not just millennials driving the growth in creative talent, it’s all ages, right through to people retiring with time on their hands and a hobby they now have time to spend on (and many of those are very talented!).
So if you have a creative hobby, ask yourself this: are you getting what you want from it? “What you want” might mean making money to some people, but more often creative hobbyists are more motivated by using their skills to help other people (maybe friends, family or their community), by practicing their creative skills, by learning new skills, or by building a portfolio of creative work as a step towards turning professional.
Personally, I love a project. Ideally a challenge that combines my creative interests (say music and film) with helping someone create something that otherwise would never happen. That’s my personal sweet spot. Oh, and ideally it needs a deadline. I need that kind of pressure to focus on my hobby above my family, my day job and everything else happening in my life. And of course learning how to deliver something creative to a deadline is an important skill if you’re thinking about turning professional.
My favourite projects so far have been films, usually where I got to create the soundtrack as well as the film. Sometimes I’ve managed to work those into my day job, and sometimes they’ve been more personal. The film I made of my Grandpa talking about his life – his experiences in WWII, including Dunkirk, our family, his achievements – will be there forever, in his own words, for my kids who never got to meet him. I think all of us should think about creating some kind of “my life” film for someone important in our lives – it’s both fun and hugely rewarding. And I’ve had fun with music too, including recording a one off spoof ‘first dance’ song for my own wedding (I think my wife’s just about forgiven me!).
I suspect I’m not alone in loving a project. Google “photography projects” and you’ll find no end of blog posts and articles suggesting ways to keep budding photographers motivated and challenged working on ‘made up’ projects. That suggests masses of creative talent searching for inspiration. And it’s the same for pretty much any creative skill.
But where are the real projects? The ones that mean something to someone because they meet a real need. Where do the families who don’t have a film maker in the family go for their “my life” films? Where are the charities who need someone to photograph their fundraising event? Where are the clubs who want a film to promote what they do on their website to encourage new members to join? Where are the small businesses who could use some local help with graphic design and their website? I know they’re out there because I’ve either been involved in helping them creatively myself, or I know someone else who has. Maybe they just need one place to go to get creative help.
Which brings me to the reason I founded Createxplore.
I wanted to build a community where amateurs and hobbyists with creative skills (Creators) could meet other people, charities, community groups, clubs, small businesses, etc (Explorers) who could use their creative help. Not primarily to make money, but for the love of being creative and the chance to use their creative skills to make a difference to someone. Selfishly, I wanted somewhere I could go to find my next project based on my skills, the kind of person or organisation that needed creative help, and when they needed it. And I wanted to make those projects really easy to find, because very few of us have the time to go knocking on doors (virtually or IRL) to find them.
I believe passionately that there are people out there amongst us feeling just like me. I want to help you find inspiring projects that could make use of your creative skills. And I’m sure there are many more people out there who could use our creative help!
My aim through Createxplore is simply to help us find each other! Register here to get started as a new Creator or Explorer.