a guide to being a "young creative"
Because Instagramming pictures of your coffee is no longer an art form, it’s a profession. Model and writer Sydney Lima’s got some tips for being a millennial multi-hyphenate.
There's an extremely vacant girl sitting in this coffee shop. There's an eeriness to her demeanour. Her outfit is un-acclimatised to the February rain. There seems to be something bothering her. She looks stressed but not stressed enough to hold back a pout. She has a spoon in her coffee tilted at a perfect forty-five-degree angle. Yet it isn't stirring the coffee. It simply skims the top as to not get too dirty.
As her head moves a fraction I can make out a Canon lens pressed up against the glass in the direction she was looking. The boy behind the lens, a face fresh out of a UAL campus, enters the café and sits down next to her. "I think we got it," He says confidently as they flick through the past 25 minutes' worth of nonchalant imagery.
He opens a laptop and the files begin uploading onto what could only be their social media outlet.
Suddenly a lightning bolts hits as it becomes clear to me that I am in the presence of two 'young creatives'.
When I was younger I didn't want to be anything. I didn't fancy being a doctor; daytime TV wasn't really selling it to me. I definitely didn't want to be a teacher; I noted from a young age that anyone with a Mr or Mrs prefix looked miserable. I flirted with becoming a karate champion but the dream lost wind when a boy in my Saturday class mocked the height of my high kick. (He failed to take my genes into consideration, I have short legs and it was proportionally rather impressive).
Eventually, like many people who aren't too sure of their purpose, I ended up swimming from job to job in the pool that is the creative industry. Though more doggy paddle than front crawl.
I often ended up working in jobs that you'd find comfortably classed as "creative/arts" on the Guardian jobs section, yet they required little to no creative input. For someone who is notorious for their lack of attendance and weak punctuality I've covered some impressive ground; spreading myself around so much that sometimes producers are not too sure whether I'm assisting on a production or gracing the team with my questionable acting skills.
Either way, it doesn't take long to realise that within the industry people take the piss with you both financially and physically. And you can't help but wonder why more and more young people are encouraged to explore their potential as a young freelancing creative? Sex and the City moment aside, what options are there to pursue as a 'young creative'?
Well, like my coffee shop friends you could utilise the world of social media and become an influencer. As an influencer, you can take photos of coffee froth art and whimsical statements on napkins. You can become an overnight nutritionist (you don't need a dietetics degree, just four ripe avocados and a phone camera). You could become an activist and campaign to 'free the nipple' because you know emoji covered nudity will gain you loads of followers. Or, you can take selfies and enhance your facial features to look like a beautiful bug and create insecurity on a mass scale.
Whatever your angle on social media, if it's a success, it won't be long until you're getting poached as a model. With our obsession for all things shiny and new picking up a gruelling momentum, Instagram has become a hunting ground for next season's new faces. By now, the quick turnover of what and who's cool has meant that a majority of the population have been 'hotly tipped' or fronted some sort of streetwear campaign.
If vanity isn't for you and you'd prefer to be more behind the scenes, then you might want to try a career in advertising. Like any 'proper job' in the creative industry you'll be required to work unmanageable hours and for little to no money. You'll have to go to town on your enthusiasm, and prove to them on a minute-by-minute basis why your biggest passion in life is to work for a company that essentially helps sell biscuits. Here, work will be sporadic and your job role will cover a lot of creative ground from ordering printer paper to picking up your boss' lunches. You'll also probably find yourself spending a lot of time casting for racial stereotypes to be part of a headphone advert that costs a thousand times more than your annual salary to produce.
If you, like me, check your bank balance by ordering something impractical online and seeing whether or not it goes through, I'd advise you to steer well clear of freelance work.
Perhaps you suffer from commitment issues, in which case you could become a full-time freelancer. Hopping from underpaid PA work to underpaid work assisting directors who think they're the dog's bollocks are just some of the many joys freelancing can offer you. Though self-employment usually goes hand in hand with poor money management. If you, like me, check your bank balance by ordering something impractical online and seeing whether or not it goes through, I'd advise you to steer well clear of freelance work.
Finally, you could just simply become an artist and embody creativity 24/7. This is essentially part of the freelancing world but its negatives require a paragraph of their own.
But being an artist is expensive. So it's often a career choice for those born financially fortunate. Ideally you'll need to come from parents with a 'throw money at the problem' sort of attitude. Also, preferably with a country house where you can reside when justifying it all gets a little too much.
If you aren't so lucky financially, great artistry can be put on hold as you find yourself spiralling down the part time pub work route in order to fund the rent for your Zone 6 flat share.
Einstein said something about creativity being contagious and how you should pass it on. I am going to have to disagree with Einstein on this one. When the pair in the coffee shop go to leave, a flash goes off in the corner as a young tattooed man photographs the same coffee with the same froth and uploads it to the same social media platform.
360 degree creatives. Yes they really are everywhere you turn. Creativity has out run the common cold and we're all truly sick.
Text Sydney Lima