Exploding creative industry myths

How much of what we’re told about the creative industries should we believe, and what prevailing narratives need killing off? Designer Craig Oldham tackles four of the big ones

Just like any other sector, the creative industries come with their own set of myths – accepted wisdom that students, graduates and even experienced creatives often take at face value. While there may be a seed of truth in them, the reality is usually more complicated than we’re led to believe. These myths run the risk of perpetuating damaging narratives, limiting what creatives feel they’re capable of doing and being, and forcing everyone down the same career path.

Here, Manchester-based designer Craig Oldham takes on four of the biggest fictions and explains why it’s time to move beyond them.

EVERYONE HAS TO MOVE TO LONDON

There’s this myth that you have to go to London to have a great career, and I believed that hook, line and sinker. I’d been on a school trip to the Natural History Museum when I was eight, and that was my only experience of London. I was at uni, and I was being told I had to go and do placements. They were great, and it’s hard to separate your experience of working in a city and what the city is actually like, but I found it really hard. I was away from everyone, I didn’t know anyone, I was young, I had no resources, but I was being told I had to stick it out – London was the place to be, and I had to get a job there, otherwise I’d fail. That’s still a myth I’m seeing perpetuated, and it’s nonsense.

I was lucky enough to get a job with The Chase, which had a London and Manchester office, and I found myself in Manchester by complete chance. I came up here and found there were loads of amazing, independent, creative people, groups and organisations. This was 12 years ago and seeing that community supporting itself and doing interesting stuff that wasn’t the London thing was really invigorating.

The idea that I could be a part of these smaller communities at the beginning, rather than just dropping into this big ocean of London, was an inspiration.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes