Creativity is Your Commodity


How the arts will set you apart after graduation, no matter what path you choose.

March 17, 2021

“But what can you do with an arts degree?”

Chances are you’ve heard that question from someone before. Maybe you’ve been called a dreamer or an idealist (as if those are bad things), or maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not realistic”. Funny how folks will watch you spend your life as a designer, a musician, a performer, a filmmaker, or an artist, and yet when you tell them that you applied to an art & design school, you’re met with skepticism.

In this article, we won’t talk about the intrinsic value of the arts, or the ways that it can be therapeutic, personally fulfilling, and driven by a greater purpose. Because you already feel that. You wouldn’t have applied to the arts if you weren’t consumed by an intense desire to express yourself or tell your story.

Instead we’ll break it down into 4 tangible points, for you to use against all of the nay-sayers in your life:

1. There is more opportunity for creatives now than ever

2. Creativity is highly valued in modern leadership

3. Creative jobs are safe from Artificial Intelligence

4. The world needs creative thinkers

So let’s jump in.

There is more opportunity now than ever

Student holds out cell phone with TikTok logo on the screen

We live in an “attention economy”.

Look no further than the most rapidly growing social media platform and you will see that every viral video or photo is fueled by creativity.

TikTok is highly performative. Theatre-kids are finding a new virtual stage for sketches, comedy and lipsyncs. Dancers are constantly choreographing the next Renegade or Tap-In Challenge, and with every one of those trends a musician explodes in popularity with it. TikTok has also opened doors for designers and artists to get eyes on their creative process, they build suspense and then wow viewers with the final payoff shot of their masterpiece, sending traffic to their Etsy accounts or online shops. And that’s only TikTok!

Instagram has always been a hub for visual artists, graphic designers and photographers. YouTube is home to the best film and music analysis on the internet, and it’s where filmmakers like Donald Glover  and musicians like Shawn Mendes got their start.

There is an abundance of content being created today, experts call it an attention economy, because our abundance of content has created a scarcity of human attention. Companies recogonize that they need to have a digital presence and strong content, that’s why freelance videography and graphic design are on the rise, businesses are hiring more artists and creative minds into their marketing and communications as part-time contracts and as full-time positions.  Because who is better to attract an audience’s attention than those who are formally trained in creativity and expression?

Creativity is highly valued in leadership

Young woman presents in front of posters she designed in class

Design student Camilla Dinardo presents at the YSDN Expo

Steve Jobs once said, “When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Students at York are trained to approach their craft with a critical eyes and acute ears. Our musicians are encouraged to experiment in various genres from around the world, our filmmakers test out new immersive and interactive methods of storytelling in our Media Arts program, and Digital Media students assist research projects and play with the most innovative technology in the arts today. Why do our students do this? Because today, organizations are constantly asked to solve complex problems, adhere to new social policies and adapt to new technologies. The folks who are best suited to make decisions in uncertain times are those who can exercise divergent thinking and execute innovative solutions outside of our traditional methods.

This is why Forbe’s Magazine has said that creativity is the skill of the future, it is why they recommend making hiring decisions based on creativity, and they have even credited poor investment decisions as failures in creativity.

Creative jobs are safe from Artificial Intelligence

Two students converse by their laptop with a three-wheeled robot between them on the desk

Computational Arts students collaborate on a robotics project

Look at any list of jobs most likely to be lost to automation, and you will be hard pressed to find any artistic or creative job titles in it. Technology can increase efficiencies and increase our access to knowledge, but it lacks imagination or creativity to dream up a vision of what to do with it.

And although it can be entertaining to read poems generated by a bot or music composed by algorithms, we are still far from having artificial intelligence that can practice empathy or speak to the human condition as well as an artist can. This is also why it is integral that artists (and especially IBPOC & LGBTQ2S+ artists)  have a seat at the table in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“I, for one, welcome our robot overlords… as collaborators!” – a York U alum.

At York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, we have a program in Digital Media. Our computational artists collaborate with creators of all disciplines using innovative technologies. We see the rapid development of these technologies as an opportunity, and our artists are ready to be on the ground floor of the next big innovation.

The world needs creative thinkers

A young woman sits pensively at the edge of her bed, while another woman lies in the bed speaking to her.

Still from Nora Likes Girls. Written and directed by film student Marlee Druker.

Our world is changing rapidly.  The narratives of our lives include massive health, environmental and sociopolitical crises. These issues are increasingly intersectional and complex and Future leaders will have to recognize these complexities and employ interdisciplinary approaches to find creative solutions. It’s no longer viable to be an expert in only one field.

At York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, we encourage you to hone your creativity with a diversity of creative practices. Take lessons in acting or music composition while pursuing a degree in film. Minor in gender studies or philosophy while majoring in design. Collaborate with Visual Artists on your virtual reality video game.

We want you to hone your creativity so you can enter any industry and solve complex problems as a unique, innovative thought leader.

Creativity is your commodity.

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