A recent article in The Atlantic titled 'The Recession's Surprise Survivor: The Arts' got me thinking (again) about the graphic designer's role in society. But in a bigger sense, the creative's role in America's current economic situation is fascinating; when money is tight, budgets for the arts are some of the first things to go, but in a recession it becomes evident that people need an outlet and a way to feel that they still can afford to enjoy their existence. It's within that basic need, which becomes urgent in times of real loss, that the arts become invaluable. Here's an excerpt from the article:
As austerity descends on the states, theater and art budgets are fighting to keep taxpayer support. So where is the growth coming from? It's coming from the private sector, where decidedly un-artistic occupations like engineering, technology, and health care are siphoning artists from the freelance world. For example, the NEA suggests that the growing demand for new health care facilities an the hospitality industry will lead to increased demand for interior designers. Explosive growth in online advertising and interactive multimedia serves as a boon for artists and illustrators, while the growth of digital publishing provide new opportunities for fledgling writers and authors.
Clearly it's encouraging to a designer like myself that the artistic world has a bright future in America, but from a marketing standpoint it's been evident for a while that as consumers are given more choice, more freedom and more access to customization, they expect much more out of every experience they have. Suddenly the average Joe knows when a room isn't well designed, or an ad is low-quality, or a website should function more intuitively. Suddenly platforms are multiplying, and each new technology demands a whole new host of creative skills.
Collaboration, as well, is becoming increasingly common, and the definition of a "collaboration" has higher standards. People aren't happy with clothing collaborations that just have someone's name on them anymore -- as Frank the Butcher, art director of Boylston Trading Company, said in a HypeBeast interview, "Collaborations on any front… only work when they are true creative partnerships... The days of just slapping an “x” between names are over. People want more than just double billing." now, a theater group might collaborate with a dance troupe on a project for a clothing store that's doing a new online marketing series, for which they're hiring a design studio who's also working with a freelance illustrator. The same old, same old doesn't work in advertising, and the answer to satisfying the increasingly demanding attention of consumers lies within the arts.