Curiosity Copywriting Editing Remote collaboration


When exploring the future of the creative career, many are fearful of becoming obsolete. FSC Content Editor Lauren Hurrell explores how creatives must harness digital tools to diversify and promote our work, while developing those skills not taught in formal education – collaboration, empathy and creativity – to keep advancing our specialisms and our careers.

14 February 2023 • 5 min read

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

It begins with curiosity, and drives us into the unknown. A budding writer might aspire to see their first byline in print or hold a copy of their first published novel. An artist might aspire to receive their first paycheck for their craft, or a digital designer may create an online world inspired by their imagination. What all of these pursuits have in common is curiosity and emotion that fuels the drive to create something new. Whatever that looks like now or in ten years’ time, no one’s quite sure, but our ability to create art is what makes us human.

As painter Paul Cezanne said, ‘a work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.’ Since the beginning of humankind, creativity is what has distinguished us from the animal world, and it has significantly driven our evolution as a species, from the very first cave drawings to the huge breakthroughs in design we have today, like space travel, entertainment and medical science.

With the help of technology and innovation, creativity and design are constantly developing to improve the way we interact with the world around us, finding new ways to make it more exciting and efficient. When technology is developing so rapidly, it can be difficult to keep our learning up with the pace demanded of us. At the heart of the matter, though, is what distinguishes us from technology, and remembering what makes us human: the authenticity of human emotion, and what we can do with it.

The more efficient and automated our world becomes, the more we need to maintain the importance of our soft skills; our abilities to communicate, collaborate and empathise with each other, as individuals and in the world at large. Good storytelling relies on human empathy; the ability to understand another perspective, and to put ourselves into others’ shoes to give us a better understanding of the world we live in. Through this we find connection, the cement that holds people – and wider society – together and influences our understanding to improve it.

Human instincts and technology have developed in tandem. This is changing the commodification of creativity as the creative economy – journalism, arts, music and so on – now thrives alongside and through the tech sector. Expectations are changing, and so are the ways we meet those expectations. The very existence of magazines being published in both digital and print emulates that dichotomy. In the digital age, print is becoming something of a novelty, if you share The New York Times’ belief that print is cooling off (1) in the digital age. Or you might argue that nothing quite compares to holding something in print; the inky scent of a crisp, freshly printed newspaper. But digital publishing cuts costs, is more sustainable, invites more exciting opportunities to be mobile and interactive, and can be analysed to collect data to understand its consumers better. They each have their pros and cons, some of which have bigger implications than others.

The onslaught of information and technology has changed every facet in our lives, both at home and at work, and now a global health crisis has married those two as well, accelerating us deeper into digital dependence as we adopt hybrid working as the norm. One symptom of the pandemic was the shift to online to look for community. It also shifted our disposable income online too. With nightlife, events, travel, bricks-and-mortar retail and hospitality almost entirely shut down for sustained periods of time, small businesses and creatives really struggled. Besides the tourism sector, the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) were among the most affected by the pandemic (2). Yet many of the government schemes to support workers could not be applied or were not adaptable to CCS given that these support measures were not designed for new and nontraditional forms of employment such as freelancing, which tend to be more precarious and more common in CCS. It was a difficult time to be a creative, and for many it seemed like the end of their freelancing careers. But for FSC Members, we saw something much more positive. We saw a community of creatives supporting each other during these challenges by building new revenue streams, diversifying their offerings and innovating quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of changing consumer behaviours. Even now, when some semblance of pre-pandemic work is in place, many have continued with their diversified ventures, and are more successful than they’ve ever been before.

In part, this is due to an overhaul in our collective mentality towards consumerism, a combination of the pandemic’s impact on supply chain issues which limited resources and deliveries, small businesses being threatened to close and aspects of the BLM movement and the climate crisis. These all contributed towards a huge wake-up call in ethical decision making, supporting individual creatives, small and local grassroots businesses and purchasing ethically resourced products around the holiday season instead of relying on Amazon.

The online crafts marketplace Etsy’s gross merchandise value in 2020 more than doubled to $10.3 billion with revenue doubling to $1.73 billion and its Q4 2021 profit nearly quadrupled as the total value of goods bought on its site topped $10 billion for 2021 (3). These platforms, where creatives can set up a profile and showcase their work for sale around the world, from handmade clothing, jewellery, pottery, prints and more, became the key place for people to buy ethical gifts. Creatives who hadn’t been commercially successful artists or had even thought of themselves as “artists” in the traditional sense before, had begun to build profitable platforms, and learned to build a community and a service. This turned their creative abilities into an additional side gig, or even their main source of income, selling work all over the world.

So for those that create products, the ease of access to these platforms, and the quick response of diversifying their skills and expertise meant they could survive what initially seemed the end of a creative freelance career. But what of the filmmakers, designers, musicians and performers that had no venues and festivals to share their work? Here we saw a renewed attention to social media and digital platforms to showcase, stream and share the work produced as well as to increase their searchability, build their own community and keep people engaged. This required a new set of skills; the ability to market oneself or one’s work, to deliver good online customer service, and to create an online presence.

This echoed a bigger trend; the pandemic highlighted the need for global digital capability in the creative industries where the human need for connection in a time where physical closeness was regulated. Naturally creatives forged a collaborative dynamic between partners and their consumers (be it as customers or spectators and so on). While these soft human-focused skills have not traditionally been in art or film school syllabuses, design classes or on writing courses, perhaps they will become an essential element of creative success in the next ten years, where the creative becomes their own agency with a multitude of skills. Or rather (the pretty on-the-nose termed) “slasher careers” might be on the rise, where creatives also have other elements of careers or practical skills that seem at odds with their creative abilities.

Where being predominantly online appears to limit the opportunities for collaboration, creatives are seizing hybrid digital and physical engagement and are growing their digital skills just as much as our in-person opportunities to increase exposure, reach new audiences and make new connections.

If we hold onto what makes us human – our abilities to form connections, communicate authentically and express complex emotions – we can use this with the tools we have at hand to keep creating new, original and exciting things that will continue to improve and enhance our world. What is more, our emotional intelligence and communication skills will nurture a more collaborative and inspiring way of working, which brings out the best of all creatives by playing on their unique strengths in a collective vision for a more creative future.

(1) ‘The Magazine Business, From the Coolest Place to the Coldest One’, Alexandra Jacobs,

(2) ‘Culture shock: COVID-19 and the cultural and creative sectors’; Ekaterina Travkina, Pier Luigi Sacco, Benedetta Morari;

(3) ‘Covid Demand Gave Etsy A Big Boost. Will Customers Stick Around Post Pandemic?’, Andria Cheng,


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