The world is changing fast, and the creative industry is no exception. The idea that robots might steal our jobs was laughable at one point. It’s feeling more possible by the day. That’s not to mention the growing competition from regular human beings. So how do we maintain our edge?
While artificial intelligence is still a long way off from being creatively coherent, it’s close enough to make us feel uneasy about the future. And in the meantime, the internet is lowering barriers to the creative industries. These days, you can’t turn around without bumping into another UX designer. Every week, we’re required to learn some hot new tool. In the tech and creative fields, the thirty-something folks are beginning to feel like old-timers.
The creative industry already looks different since you entered it, and the pandemic has only accelerated the rate of change. Whether that’s a blessing or a curse is up to you.
You could see it as more people flooding in, saturating the field, snatching up your job options and making you irrelevant. Or you could reach for the same opportunities you fear others are taking from you.
How do we stay relevant? How do we stay valuable? How do we stay on top of our field when the ground is shifting beneath us?
We continue learning and growing.
After interviewing some of the most admirable creative people we know here on DESK, we’ve begun to see a pattern. Those who rise to the top have something in common: They never consider themselves too good to be taught. They never stop pushing themselves to be better. They are forever curious, endlessly excited to learn something new or add to their skills.
And this is where the perceived threat becomes a gift. The internet and advances in technology mean we don’t have to go back to school and get a four-year degree. We can learn and build on our skillset on our own time. Whether it’s taking a short course, following a YouTube tutorial or making a personal study of a skill you want to master, you can maintain your creative edge by continuing to sharpen it.
The New School, a creative university based in New York City, calls it Continuing and Professional Education.
Continuing and Professional Education at The New School is now offering online courses for creative professionals to grow their skills or pick up new ones. If you're interested in learning within a guided environment, registration is now open for courses starting in Spring 21:
Putting Sustainability into Practice (Fashion Sustainability Certificate)
The environmental crisis can no longer be ignored, and that's ringing true in the fashion industry. Things needs to change. Much of the 20th-century fashion system is outdated, destructive and quickly becoming irrelevant. This class is geared toward people in the fashion industry, at any level. Within the course, you use your business, project or idea as a case study or "tester" to contribute change within the current fashion industry. You will finish the course with an actionable project that can be a portfolio piece or plan ready to be implemented.
Lighting Fundamentals and Technologies (Interior Lighting Design Certificate)
This course is an introduction to the world of lighting design. It covers the fundamentals of lighting, including developing a basic understanding of light and human vision, lighting measurement and color. You'll leave having a working vocabulary of lighting terms and a knowledge base of lighting technologies and their characteristics. (Which applies to everyone from lighting designers to 3D designers).
Design Futures 101 (Futures Studies and Speculative Design Certificate)
In this course, you'll get an intro to the academic field of futures studies and design futures. The course will also touch on approaches such as discursive design, speculative design, critical design, strategic foresight and design fiction.
"There's no 'finishing,' there's only moving forward."
For those interested in design courses: The New School's Parsons School of Design is ranked #1 in the United States. And since most certificate courses are 100% online, you don't have to be located in the U.S. to take them. They have what they call non-degree "adult courses," for those looking to pick up a new skill without pursuing a full degree, as well as certificate programs for professionals looking to advance in their careers.
The beauty of this approach: you don't have to commit to four years of study or work toward a far-off university degree. There's no "finishing," there's only moving forward.
Whether you decide to take a course or not, you can keep pushing yourself on your own time. Start with just 10 minutes a day. Recreate a piece of art in the style you’ve been wanting to try. Watch a YouTube video while you make your morning coffee. Ask a friend if they’ll spend one hour with you on Zoom showing you how to use a specific tool.
Instead of telling yourself you’re too old, or out of the loop, or too behind to catch up, take one little step. After a little while taking those small steps, you’ll look back and see you’re much further ahead than you thought you’d be.