All of us remember our childhood and early teenage days when our parents took extreme pride in our little creative abilities to draw, paint, dance, sing or write poetry. Most of us were almost paraded before our relatives to showcase our respective talents. In fact, most of us were coaxed into taking parts in various school festivals.
As the board examinations for tenth and twelfth standards drew closer, we were advised to put all our ‘creative talents’ on the backburner and concentrate on studies instead. As fate would have it, we were made to keep all ‘hobbies’ away. Our guardians declared in unison that only a career-oriented education will give us grades, make us competent and turn us into successful engineers, doctors, lawyers, stock-brokers and the likes.
Before we could realize anything, we descended into adulthood and engaged in a maddening rat race. We forgot that we could once sing, dance, draw, write poetry, or seamlessly speak on public platforms. We lost ourselves in the big bad professional world and remained as rats. As they rightly say, only rats are found in a rate race no matter where a certain rat is poised.
We were made to compete with each other and were conditioned to ascertain our positions using a comparative scale. We remained miserable in the process. The society made us do that. Our parents and teachers aided in the process, sometimes intentionally and at other times unintentionally. The business-oriented school of thought mandated competition. An unapologetic capitalistic economy gave premium to competition while not giving a fair chance to all to excel. The society asked us to either perform or perish, either be in front or get lost.
We turned logical and extremely rational. We also evolved structured thinking. In other words, we became ‘reasonable’. But we ceased to laugh in abundance, or dance with the wind, or sing when the heart wanted, or act funny every now and then.
In fact, most of us started to believe that creativity is purely for aesthetic and artistic purposes. The utilitarian factor associated with creative ventures were reduced only to appreciation, admiration and creation of social charm. Very few of us ever thought about pursuing careers and making money through creative ventures.
However, there were welcome exceptions – a piece of art fetching fifty lacs or a singing performance bringing in a crore for a single night or a writer selling his story for a film for twenty lacs and many more instances. However, these were not enough for our ‘security’-seeking parents and would be parents-in-laws to permit us to venture into creative projects.
It is time to declare a beautiful, colourful and bold war against all these clichés just in case you are creative from the inside. It is time to declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, here I arrive, a unique creative soul, with no competition with anyone except myself, dedicated to this creative work, aware of the technologies I need to make this work a great one, and conscious of the ways and means to take my work to millions and earn my livelihood with joy and abundance, and for years and years ahead.”
Security? Sustainability? Career? Money? Fame? Name? Network? Recognition? You name it and it is there for the taking – but only for those who would go the whole hog to turn their passion into a marketable, sustainable and admired profession through die-hard and dogged efforts. Dog is my favourite animal indeed. It teaches us a lot.
So, all the artists on canvas or stone or wood or glass, stand up and create a brand of your own through social media. Place yourself in the market place through corporate art, media cartoons, restaurant art, art curating, art gallery, art foundations, or art and literary festivals.
The story-tellers around, stand up and choose your medium and audience to tell your story. Tell it in audio through podcasts and radio. Tell it in pictures through photo features and creative photography. Tell it visually through your computer-generated graphical or animated visuals. Tell it audio-visually through short films, feature films and web series. Tell it for for-profit and not-for-profit organizations through branded content, tell it on the streets and tell it on stage, tell it in whispers, tell it in small groups, tell it to many, tell it to all and tell it loud and clear, tell it in silence and tell it with sound, tell it in tears and tell with laughter – but tell it nonetheless and tell it with all charm and boldness. Make money in the process. No one thought that a 400-crore investment in story-telling on celluloid over five years can bring in 3,500 crores. The Baahubali series did. Neither did anyone anticipate that an 80-crore investment can bring in 2,200 crores back. Dangal did.
Notwithstanding, you have to know how to tell your story effectively, discern whom to tell it with the best desired impact, and identify how to be resourceful in your work without chasing just mundane resources.
For the dancers, the singers, the composers and the writers amongst us – we have a world of opportunities knocking on our doors. There are some sixteen different types of professional writing, for example, that can make money – fiction writing, non-fiction writing, journalistic writing, web writing, branded content writing, screenwriting, dialogue writing, playwriting, copywriting, jingle writing, technical writing, and a lot more. You want to tell what you see, or what you imagine, or what you believe in, or what you observe – you have takers for all.
Music can earn someone a robust career in bands, concerts, music management companies, online music platforms, playback singing, music direction, fusion creation, and many other areas. Similarly, dancers can make a decent living for themselves by dancing in troupes, films, functions and weddings. Dancers can also run schools and events, manage operas and do dance direction.
Creative geeks with a penchant for technology – you have a greater number of avenues to achieve fun and success. Visualize your fantasies into animated images, characters and stories. The stories you cooked up all your life, with some observations from your sample audiences, can be evolved into video games that engage them. Today, virtual reality (creating the make-belief world which is not in front physically) or augmented reality (extending the physical reality to a larger canvas) are storming the creative space. They are breaking all frontiers of imaginative story-telling.
Then there are weaving stories on fabrics, blending nature and culture with apparel, and creating styles and fashion – simple or stunning.
There are many other forms of creative and communicative careers now – creating behavioural changes, building images, managing crises, creating brand trust, weaving identities of people, places and organizations and the likes.
This is your time to call the shots – just that an average half-hearted initiative will not yield any outcome. It has to be either all your power or none at all. It has to be your best foot forward. It has to be ideas, concepts, practices, technologies and business sense – all rolled into one.
By Prof. Ujjwal K Chowdhury Guest Editor