Chase Jarvis says we can all be cre­ative if we want.

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At Om­ni­com Me­dia Agency’s 2018 edi­tion of its an­nual Brain­scape event, speak­ers from cre­atives to agency lead­ers to sci­en­tists dis­cussed the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the in­dus­try’s cre­ative Mad Men and their an­ti­thet­i­cal ‘math men’ with their fo­cus on data.

The event’s key­note speaker, Chase Jarvis, said the com­mon thread be­tween all the speak­ers was “the pen­du­lum swing­ing back to­wards hu­man con­nec­tion, hu­man cre­ativ­ity, the things that hu­mans are good at that are dif­fer­en­ti­ated from ma­chines”.

Jarvis, whose Wikipedia page de­scribes him as “an Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher, di­rec­tor, artist and en­tre­pre­neur”, says cre­ativ­ity is on the cusp of a golden age. While our par­ents had just one job, of­ten for life, we will have five jobs and the next gen­er­a­tion will have five jobs at the same time.

Jarvis starts list­ing his own jobs with founder and CEO of CreativeLive, which he de­scribes as “an on­line learn­ing plat­form fo­cused mostly around video. It is where any­one in the world can go to learn pho­tog­ra­phy, de­sign, cre­ativ­ity, en­trepreneur­ship, the abil­ity to make a liv­ing and a life do­ing what you love.”

He is also a pho­tog­ra­pher (“my pas­sion and his­tory”), a speaker, a writer, an in­vestor and more. “I could prob­a­bly name an­other half a dozen [jobs]”, he says. His par­ents, he adds, “feel so sorry for me” be­cause he has to do so many things. “But no, no, no, no, that’s not a have-to, it’s a get-to,” he says.

Every­one has a ‘side hus­tle’, says Jarvis, who speaks the im­mod­est hippy-speak of the mil­len­nial ‘trep-bro. But he prefers to fo­cus on ac­coun­tants de­vel­op­ing their cre­ative side by tak­ing out their paints, rather than strug­gling pho­tog­ra­phers forced to drive Ubers and flip burg­ers.

“There’s cre­ators with a small ‘c’, like peo­ple who are writ­ing their own scripts and defin­ing their own jobs, and are pho­tog­ra­phers and de­sign­ers and what­ever on the side,” he says. “But there is also Cre­ators with a cap­i­tal ‘C’. They are creat­ing a new par­a­digm of writ­ing their em­ploy­ment fu­ture, and maybe it’s an ag­gre­gate, where I need to put two or three jobs to­gether, that is the fu­ture.”

“The fu­ture,” says Jarvis, “is where we are all multi-hy­phen­ate.”

Older peo­ple use CreativeLive as well as 20-some­things bored of their first ca­reer path. He says the ap­peal to those over 45 is partly to do with a chang­ing jobs mar­ket, where peo­ple have to re-skill. But also be­cause to­day many al­low them­selves to be­lieve they can do what they want, or what they are pas­sion­ate about.

Jarvis says: “It is a just a time in his­tory when peo­ple are re­al­is­ing 50 is the new 30.” At 47, he is prob­a­bly think­ing about him­self. He con­tin­ues: “There is a de­sire and a pas­sion to con­nect with things that are ex­cit­ing and to which you would like to go back and learn new skills and even earn money”.

Hu­mans are es­sen­tially cre­ative, says Jarvis, and to prove this he says that when you ask a class­room full of chil­dren start­ing out at school who wants to come to the front and draw a pic­ture, every­one will raise their hands “be­cause they get joy from this act of creat­ing”.

That is “beaten out of us” through the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. “Our schools are set up like fac­to­ries, and they were set up to be very ef­fi­cient,” he says. “They were de­signed after sys­tems from the 1900s, ba­si­cally the Prus­sian fac­tory, where you put cer­tain things in one end and they go through a se­ries of checks and bal­ances and then you come out the other end.”

Treat­ing ed­u­ca­tion like an as­sem­bly line, and treat­ing all peo­ple the same, cre­ates a lack of cre­ativ­ity.

That’s why Jarvis founded CreativeLive. Its on-tap les­sons (which are free to stream live, but cost money to sched­ule to your own cal­en­dar) meshes bet­ter with his “per­sonal in­tu­ition of what a hu­man life is meant to be like”.

He says: “When you can cre­ate things in a small daily way – even if it’s just tak­ing a sim­ple pho­to­graph and say­ing, through in­ten­tion, ‘I want to make some­thing,’ whether it’s an ap­pli­ca­tion, a piece of soft­ware or a pho­to­graph, some­thing sim­ple – what you are re­al­is­ing is your own agency. It is the small daily habit of build­ing up this mus­cle of per­sonal, in­di­vid­ual agency that ac­tu­ally re­minds you that you are in charge of creat­ing, or rather you are the agent of your own life arc.”

What he likes about agency is “op­tion­al­ity”, he says. “You re­alise that this idea of get­ting on a path and hav­ing to stick it out is a nar­ra­tive that is no longer true.”

He con­tin­ues: “What is more true is you pur­sue some­thing un­til it gets hard and you re­alise that ‘I don’t want to do this any more’. But in do­ing so you put your­self on a path, say, to com­puter science, and when you get to com­puter science you are like, ‘Oh, I was writ­ing code for the bank that I worked at,’ and then you re­alise, ‘Oh, I can ac­tu­ally write code for gam­ing com­pa­nies. And then, ‘Oh my gosh, I can ac­tu­ally be an in­flu­encer and get paid to play video games.’”

Jarvis, for one, is liv­ing the dream.

“There is a de­sire and a pas­sion to con­nect with things that are ex­cit­ing and to which you would like to go back and learn new skills and even earn money.”

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