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Unread 01-15-2018, 02:16 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
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Default A quick question...

I have a difficulty. I am proofreading a press release for an event later in the year. The author has used the term "creatives" to describe the group of people who have been collaborating on a history/landscape project and every time I look at it it, it makes my toes curl.

I have never come across it before, but this is no reason to edit it out; is it already an accepted term in art/literary circles? The author is many years my junior and may well have the advantage of me here.

The collaboration involves visual artists (paint, collage, video...) and poets. Roughly half a dozen individuals.

I understand that the writer wants a one-word description that will cover the different disciplines involved and perhaps thinks "artists" (the term I would probably have used) is not broad enough to cover the wordsmiths in the group. She herself is a conceptual artist, working in several media.

My immediate perception is that "creatives" smacks of a kind of political correctness overlaid with a slightly superior smirk and I fear that readers of the release (potential bums-on-seats) might share that view.

Can I have a few informed opinions/gut reactions/alternative expressions?

Please, and thank you.
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Unread 01-15-2018, 03:35 AM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Posts: 3,140

The term is used alot. It is annoying, as you suspect, to many. Except the people who call themselves creatives. Make it stop.
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Unread 01-15-2018, 03:37 AM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
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I agree.
I'm familiar with the word, but would never use it since it sounds patronising, implying that everybody else is not creative.
Artists sounds acceptable to me as an alternative; alternatively perhaps creators?
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Unread 01-15-2018, 04:57 AM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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There has to be a better word. To my ear, mind, and heart the term has many negative connotations, one being that I can see it used in a dystopian world!
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Unread 01-15-2018, 05:12 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
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Yes, creatives sound a bit like they are cultured in tubes as well.

Cheers ,
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Unread 01-15-2018, 05:41 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,092

Ditto. It's an adjective.... But mostly it's annoying.
My hunch is she is partial to the word "creatives" because it's "different".

Persuasion is your only recourse. Consider the audience that will read it. What would be more digestible to them? "Artists" more exactly defines the group as not only being creative (everyone is creative to a degree) but also having the ability to express that creativity through artistic expression. Convince her that to be called "artists" is more impressive than to be called "creatives". Because it is.

Another tact might be to ask the group of "creatives" themselves if they would prefer to be called that or "artists". I would think the latter. That will, if nothing else, produce some lively discussion : )

Or maybe they are a certain kind of "creatives"? Bohemians? Nah. "Compendium of creative minds"? Nope. "A collective of artists"? What?

Not everything "creative" is artistic...
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Unread 01-15-2018, 06:09 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,161


I think you've come to the right place to find people with conservative views on language, and perhaps if you asked elsewhere you'd get different responses.

But with that caveat, yes, I don't like it either, and I agree with David that it seems to imply that others are not. "artists" seems accurate and unproblematic. And "creatives" seems to strike me defining people solely in terms of their creativity (imagination and ideas - a Romantic notion almost) rather than also their craft, skill or discipline -- whereas "artist" seems to capture all of these.

Had a quick Google. The word seems to be business jargon. The OED gives, "informal: A person whose job involves creative work." The example they give is ‘the most important people in the mix will be creatives and direct marketing specialists’. And Cambridge gives, "a person whose job involves producing original ideas or doing artistic work" with the example, "Several leading creatives are involved in the advertising campaign". And MacMillan gives, "someone whose job is to have new ideas, especially in advertising". So that's another good reason not to use it.


Last edited by Matt Q; 01-15-2018 at 06:13 AM.
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Unread 01-15-2018, 07:55 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 2,906

Hi Ann,

Are they insistent on a single word? I can't see what would be wrong with 'writers and artists'. I share the distaste of 'creatives' as a term. I associate it with the business jargon of advertising, where any creativity is a means to an end (selling a product) rather than the end itself (with any financial reward as a happy bonus!)
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Unread 01-15-2018, 09:09 AM
Nigel Mace Nigel Mace is offline
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Location: The Borders and Italy
Posts: 1,460

I think Mark has it right. There's not only no need for a single word but, since the project is in part concerned with history, "writers" would seem a useful addition to "artists". Indeed a differentiated list would seem to be a much better way of indicating the diversity of approaches involved.

If you want a really nasty word to match the contested term, one could say that the use of the word "creatives" is part of a process of "commodification". Yuk!
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Unread 01-15-2018, 11:34 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
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Location: Beirut
Posts: 1,959

The word is creatives and it is almost always used by people who could not really be described as such. I associate it with careerism and as you say "a slightly superior smirk." Think of it as Artist™.
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