Is creativity in need of rescue?

In his book Against Creativity author Oli Mould questions whether being ‘creative’ means becoming a cog in the machine. CR met with him to discuss how creativity can become more than part of a production line

“Creativity has been, and still is, a force for change in the world,” writes Mould in the book, which is published by Verso. “It is a collective energy that has the potential to tackle capitalism’s injustices rather than augment them. Creativity can be used to produce more social justice in the world, but it must be rescued from its current incarceration as purely an engine for economic growth.”

In the book, he acknowledges creativity’s vast potential to effect change, but also explores the ways it, and our faith in it, have been co-opted. Mould’s book may be a hard pill for many to swallow, particularly those whose careers revolve around being creative, but it raises essential points about how many creatives have become trapped in a system that values money-making above all else. In Against Creativity he explores how we can find a new definition for creativity – one that goes beyond capitalism’s demands – and how that can change people’s lives and livelihoods. CR met with the author to discuss what this book means for the creative industry, if ad agencies and design studios can break away from the siren call of ever-greater profit, and how we can rethink creativity’s role in the world.

Creative Review: What was it that made you want to write this book?
Oli Mould: I got disillusioned with the creative industries’ rhetoric. Over the years I’ve seen this word ‘creativity’ used more and more vacuously and ubiquitously. It doesn’t mobilise anything. I saw it applied to jobs, cities, people, technology, politics, and it was a word that needed to be taken to task. The original title of the book was far harsher. I wouldn’t say creativity is being used for bad ends.. it’s more replicating what already exists. And what already exists has problems, which I highlight in the book. I’m not against the notion of creativity at all, it’s more that I think it needs to be redefined.