“Creatives” Jason 15 Nov 2005

35 comments Latest by Paul Ingram

This term has always bothered me. It’s silly. It seems to set up weird boundaries — designers are creative but business people aren’t. Or designers are creative but programmers aren’t. It also seems to imply special treatment or class of people as in “These people are creative. They create things. Let them go create.” Ugh. If someone is a designer, call them a designer. If someone is a programmer call the a programmer. If someone is an accountant, call them an accountant (we’ve certainly all heard of creative accounting). Let’s say goodbye to “Creatives.”

35 comments (comments are closed)

detroit 15 Nov 05

what do you call a group of photographers, illustrators, designers and art directors who sit near one another and often brainstorm on creative objectives for clients?

Mark 15 Nov 05

I appreciate your point, but I think it’s generally understood that “creatives” are those segments of businesses or groups that work in or belong to the wider “creative industry”.

A guy 15 Nov 05

In summary: “here is a word used by millions of people with a clear definition and use. For pedantic reasons, I find it mildly irritating. Please stop using it.”

Matt 15 Nov 05

Does this have anything to do with the latest Veer mailer? You probably can’t admit it since they’re “on deck” but it sorta made me shake my head too.

Thomas 15 Nov 05

Has David made it into town yet?

Joshua Blankenship 15 Nov 05

But can you pinpoint the right terminology? I’m an artist I suppose, I dabble in a lot of different “creative” things (both personally and professionally.)

Your solution (call a designer a designer, etc.) works if everyone in the field only does one thing, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule of late.

(And by the way, what does the term “business people” mean? Aren’t you doing the same thing you’re complaining about?)

Raymond Brigleb 15 Nov 05

Let’s call them “talent.”

Brian Sweeting 15 Nov 05

I agree with the sentiment, but as I read this I see the Veer ad on the side. “Visual Elements for Creatives.” Veer is where I hear that word thrown around the most it seems. Hope you don’t tick off the people providing your ad revenue.

Glenn Davies 15 Nov 05

The real problem with the word creative is the fallacy that anyone actually creates anything. We make things or we conceive ideas about things and then we put things together. The concept of being creative today actually borders on arrogance. To quote the source of ‘creation’, “there is nothing new under the sun.” What we do is take from what already exists and then make things up.

Wilson 15 Nov 05

The great* thing about the term “creatives” is that it’s used to refer both to designers and their product (most frequently in the ad industry). Surely it’s convenient** for the folks on the business end that they don’t even have to distinguish between people and what they churn out.

*By great, I mean awful.
**By convenient, I mean disgusting.

Darrel 15 Nov 05

“If someone is a designer, call them a designer. If someone is a programmer call the a programmer.”

Programmers are designers.

“Visual Elements for Creatives.”

AKA, stock art for creatives who aren’t very creative.

Ben 15 Nov 05

I’m a techie coming from a background at interactive and ad agencies. My first agency job didn’t use the term, instead categorizing groups into “Experience,” “Technology” and some silly thing for the PM/account types. After merging with another company the term “Creative” was introduced.

I think it’s a nasty term. I’ve found that it encourages an elitist attitude for those in that group, and a complete misconception by clients and the PM/account types about project teams. In my experience “Creatives” are put on a pedastal while others in the group (IA’s, technologists, functional analysts) are merely considered implementers. Hurts the team, hurts the project, hurts the client.

I’ll never work at a company with a “creative” department again.

Jase 15 Nov 05

Then again, plenty of programmers don’t even want to be called that — they’re engineers and architects and anything but programmer. People can be very sensitive about titles/labels. Good luck finding one term that makes everyone in a group happy!

gareth 15 Nov 05

Got to echo the sentiment. I hate with some sort of passion the term in use to describe a group of people - “look at those creative walking around” or work produced - “that’s a really good creative”

Their are words missing! “look at those creative people/designers/whatever walking past”, “that’s a really good creative advert/programme/solution”

Eric 15 Nov 05

Perhaps the “creatives” label is not useful due to your workplace where everyone creates. But let’s look at a broader range of businesses. Some people design cars while others build cars and sweep the factory floor. Some people operate the subway trains where others design the stations and the advertisements which appear along the ceiling.

Furthermore, it’s not a dichotomy; roles/jobs fall on a continuum. Some are highly creative others are moderately so, and some involve very little creativity.

Why throw away a term because of one person’s narrow view of the world?

Richard 15 Nov 05

I prefer to refer to myself as “Software Artist” ;)

benny 15 Nov 05

And then, if I’m being really crazy, I just call them people.

Jamie 15 Nov 05

I always had a problem with the Creative Commons moniker. Maybe it should just be Terms of Use.

Anon 15 Nov 05

what do you call a group of photographers, illustrators, designers and art directors who sit near one another and often brainstorm on creative objectives for clients?

“a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”

James Head 15 Nov 05

The programmers at and old job where I worked as a “Web Designer” referred to me and the Graphic Designer as the fluffy people… (! :)

Anonymous Coward 15 Nov 05

Geez, Anon, did you skip the Zoloft this morning? Maybe try Costco — they sell it by the case.

I think we can all agree that artsy-fartsy types are not the only “creative” people in existence. On the contrary, some “artists” can be totally lacking in creativity, and suitable only for production work. But however unfortunate it may be, it is my experience that most people associate “creative” with “artistic.”

As Jason, I avoid using “creative” in the sloppy way that many people do, but I’m certainly not going to give someone a lecture if they aren’t as conscientious about their use of language as I try to be.

Splashman 15 Nov 05

Whoops — that last post was from me. I’m not really an anonymous coward. Just a bit absent-minded at times …

kev 15 Nov 05

Jason, did this stem from the recent Veer emailing about the “Creatives Care” t-shirt? I understand if you don’t want to respond (they ARE an advertiser ;) ) but I had the same feeling when I saw that shirt.. seemed kind of gooberish to me.

kev 15 Nov 05

edit: fuck; beaten.

Reinier 15 Nov 05

A part from the fact that one can actually call a designer, designer, which seems evident. It seems to me that this term exists to refer to a heterogenous group of professionals (e.g. photographers, copywriters, designers) do ‘something’ creative with the factual input from non-creatives (ughhh). As you state yourself in an example Jason, an accountant has no business being creative since this is a disservice to the company. Sticking to the ‘truth’ is his/her goal. Among some however, the popular opinion of the work ‘creatives’ do is that they bend/filter/deny the truth to create a USP/dream/blatant lie.

It is a silly word really, just like ‘suits’. Seems to me it is just a case of generalisation from the ‘us’ about ‘them’ - which is sad, really.

Nick Caldwell 15 Nov 05

The main problem, really, is the distortion of a perfectly good adjective into a rather ugly noun. Let’s say “NO” to the nouning of adjectives. The verbing of nouns is, on the other hand, perfectly all right.

James Bowskill 15 Nov 05

You think “creatives” is bad? Out here in Japan the term is “creators”. Sounds like some omnipotent power is at work!

Nick Caldwell 15 Nov 05

Well, at least “creator” is an actual noun.

Swati 16 Nov 05

I am just going to take this off-topic…for no apparent reason.

I completely missed the point because I kept getting pondering over whether or not programmers are creative or not.

I say programmers are quite creative. They have to come up with solutions to problems. Programming language is mere a tool they use to put their creative solutions up front. Some algorithms are quite creative on how its done.

Artists use their paint brush as a tool. We use the programming languages as a tool.

Engelgrafik 16 Nov 05

The only people that think “Creative” is an elitist term are usually people who don’t do anything creative.

There is a paradox here and in my years I have discovered that it always seems to revolve around this secret jealousy or envy against “creatives”.

The same people who, for instance, thumb their noses at art and artists and accuse them of being elitist and arrogant are the ones, themselves, who are the arrogant ones.

There is no law against who can and can’t be creative. There isn’t a law against who is or is not an artist.

It’s up to YOU to define who YOU are. If you want to get all pissy and angry about who is define as creative or artist or programmer or whatever, it’s up to YOU to do it. Get off your ass and get something done.

Dana O 16 Nov 05

I think the term came about as a way to easily group a bunch of different type of “creatives” — like graphic designers, industrial designers, etc.

I like the term because it tends to creative nature. I may suck at industrial design, but on some level, I can relate to that person because we’re both creative.

I see where Jason is coming from though in that it seems to mean that other people can’t be creative too. I think though that there are people that wouldn’t fit in that category. We all know the peson that uses only Photoshop filters to make something — and they think they’re a designer, creative, whatever.

Dana O 16 Nov 05

I think the term came about as a way to easily group a bunch of different type of “creatives” — like graphic designers, industrial designers, etc.

I like the term because it tends to creative nature. I may suck at industrial design, but on some level, I can relate to that person because we’re both creative.

I see where Jason is coming from though in that it seems to mean that other people can’t be creative too. I think though that there are people that wouldn’t fit in that category. We all know the peson that uses only Photoshop filters to make something — and they think they’re a designer, creative, whatever.

TL 16 Nov 05

> I see where Jason is coming from though in that it
> seems to mean that other people can’t be creative too.


I started calling my group at work the “Intelligent Group” since we’re not part of the “Creative Group” on the org chart.

The fact that it sounds so absurd seems to drive home the point nicely.

monkeyinabox 16 Nov 05

No, no we have to keep it. I love it when my Veer catalog shows up and my wife wants to look at it, but I always say “tsk, tsk, Creatives only!”.

Paul Ingram 17 Nov 05

So, are you saying that programmers aren’t designers? (wink)