The Rise of the Hybrid Creative

Note: This is an excerpt from a talk I gave at LSU AdFed on The Rise of the Hybrid Creative

The world had been evolving over the last 20 years or so. Opportunity is more abundant for individuals - even those of us with little professional experience or training -  to do things that matter. To do things that reach the masses. To build something global. We're all creatives: designers, developers, copywriters, musicians, photographers, videographers, editors, audio engineers…. the list goes on. We’re all creative whether we know it or not.

With a changing world, we have to take a practical look at what our global economy, creative industry and “internet of things" has evolved into and take stock of our own abilities to thrive in it.

It's difficult to separate my work from my play. When I get home in the evenings, I sit down and write for this blog, or build a new email campaign, or measure my site's metrics or do a photoshoot or design a something that's in my head. I reach thousands of people with each post and hundreds of people with each email - more connections than most people even knew just 50 years ago. We don't have to have the platform of a politician or a celebrity to reach thousands of people anymore. Everyone has a platform that we build ourselves online.

The Internet has opened up an entire frontier that has turned each of us into creative people. No matter what our "job" is, we have a chance to create and let the world see what we're creating.

Authors used to have to put together a proposal, ship it to 50 publishers and maybe - if their lucky - get a book deal. Now they can write their book, self-publish for free and get a percentage of each sale.

Musicians used to have to play music where ever they can get a gig, try to pitch themselves to a label and hope that they'll help them put together an album and a tour. Now they can run a Kickstarter campaign and tap into their greatest resource: their fans.

Inventors used to have to hand-manufacture their own inventions, pawn them out of the back of their vehicle and grow a company organically through word of mouth. Now they hustle for half a million from an angel investor and are doing millions of dollars in business in a year.

Craftsmen used to have to work their butts off trying to sell their designs off to a production house, hope that it gets put into production, hope again that it gets circulated to big retailers and maybe, just maybe, get a small cut of the profits. Now they can open up shop on Etsy, test the marketability and demand of their product and sell to a worldwide marketplace.

Educators used to have to go to school for years, get their degree, go through a series of difficult praxis exams to get certified, work in under privileged schools with horrible kids to fulfill the stipulations of their grant and slowly work their way up the chain. Now, experts in their fields - certified to teach or not - can create accounts on Khan Academy or Skill Share and teach hundreds of thousands of students worldwide.

The problem with this new creative age is that while it's put the power to create and publish in our hands, it's also put the responsibility of exposure, sales, marketing, data analysis, product iteration, PR and nearly everything else.

Enter: The Hybrid Creative

Beginning of Time - 0 B.C.

Many years ago, everyone had to do everything for their family to survive. Raise the animals, grow the crops, build the house, dig the well etc. This meant that each person would work from daybreak to dark doing backbreaking manual labor simply to survive day to day. They couldn't set up efficient systems to do things in bulk because they had no need for bulk. Everything was small scale, inefficient and manual.

Industrial Age - 1700-1800's

Then we moved into the industrial age which made food, clean water and energy more ubiquitous. Once everyone had access to such resources, they were able to go work in factories and buy their food grown by someone else. No longer were they required to do everything themselves, but simply do one thing and purchase their necessities.

The Age of Specialization - 1900's

Then came the specialization age where education became commonplace and we were able to expand and mechanize across nearly every industry. This sudden uptick in education allowed people the ability to dig into a specific topic, get a job in that field and create what Adam Smith, in his ground breaking book The Wealth of Nations, referred to as "the division of labor" through specialization. People could go their entire careers learning only one skill but learning everything there is to know about it. This hyper-specialized division of labor has created a system in which everyone is interdependent upon everyone else.

The Information Age - 2000's

Now, we're moving into an age where communication and knowledge are at our fingertips empowering each of us to discover, learn and create in whatever field we desire with little to no barrier of entry. To give you an idea of the abundance of knowledge that is now accessible to the world, the Masai warrior with a cell phone and cellular data in Africa has more access to information than the President of the United States just 25 years ago. This means that anyone... can pursue nearly anything. Entrepreneurship exploded onto the scene with so much force that hubs began to form such as Silicon Valley where young businessmen selling their companies before they even started them was not out of place.

The age of big corporations, pensions and spending 50 years at one company is dying out and being replaced by an age of start-ups, venture capitalists and switching jobs every four years. We can't get away with being a one-trick pony any more. Everyone's a little bit creative and these days, more people are getting a chance to realize their creative potential. It's not just the guy who ran into some good fortune that get's a shot at the big leagues. Everyone gets their chance now which means only the best rise to the top. And the best... will be the people who understand that being an artist isn't enough.

We're all creatives... but we're also having to become publishers... and marketers... and data analysts... and salesmen... and entrepreneurs.

We're all having to become hybrids.