Skip to main content
May 14, 2012

Art class: Are we the most creative generation ever?

Way back in the analogue age – or the pre-analogue, the horse-and-cart, the cup-and-string age – you could forget about creating art. In fact, you could forget about even seeing art.

In fact, unless you were lucky enough to be born into the wigged-and-corseted classes in London or Paris, there’d be ne’er an exhibition or a concert for you. And making art? Who could afford the time or money for that? But along came digital technology, and everything changed. Not only have digital and online archives transformed the way the public can access and enjoy art, but technology has also dramatically transformed the dynamic of creative production, begging the question – are we the most creative generation ever?

Nothing like the real thing

Well, technology alone can’t make somebody creative. Access to convenient hi-tech equipment doesn’t meant that a writer wouldn’t still benefit from expert tuition to help fine-tune his prose style – or that a musician wouldn’t gain something by hiring a professional sound engineer to nail that final, crucial track. After all, there’s nothing like face-to-face guidance, and you can’t bounce ideas off a laptop screen the way you can off a teacher. Real-life help and support is invaluable, and all the digital technology in the world won’t change that.

Creativity on a shoestring

What technology can do, however, is facilitate your ambitions and enhance your output by giving you the tools you need to just get out there and do it – and do it on a budget. And in that sense, released from the tyranny of expensive, inaccessible kit, we have the potential to be the most creative generation ever. More of us, more than ever, are reaping the benefits of these tools. Open Office, Audacity, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Windows Movie Maker: there’s a programme out there for every art-form and for every artist.

via The Skyline Band

Most of the equipment you’ll need are available as free downloads or open-source software, or, at the minimum, as a time-limited free trial so that you can try for a few weeks before you buy. So it’s easier and faster than ever to set yourself up as a macro-photographer or a freestyle hip-hop record-producer or the next Quentin Tarantino. While it might help, you don’t need the expensive film-school education, the bulky darkroom developing fluids, or the hard-to-find collector’s-item typewriter ribbon. These days, technology lets you do it on a shoestring.

Hi tec, low budget success stories 

So is the art that we create getting better or worse as more people leap onto the guerrilla bandwagon? There’s no law of diminishing returns on creativity. While we might have to wait for future generations to give us a full and final appraisal, all we have to do is look at the success stories to see that it’s working so far.

Low-budget hits like Robert Rodrigues’ El Mariachi, self-publishing dynamos like Amanda Hocking, musical mavericks like Amanda Palmer who’ve used the Bandcamp platform to bypass the big record labels – all helped to the end-line by the same digital technology that we can all access from home. Most creative generation? Damn right!