© 2020 Patrick McAndrew

  • Pat McAndrew

Starving For Human Creativity



The Starving Artist

There is a reason why the stereotype of “the starving artist” is something that exists; it’s because it’s partially true. It’s no secret that it’s difficult to make a living in the arts. Possible, yes, but pretty difficult. In most arts, whether it be dancing, painting, acting, or music, there isn’t a full-time job available with benefits and a 401K attached. Some people can teach, and there are quite a few exceptions to the rule. If you are in The Lion King on Broadway, you’ve got quite a career ahead of you. Or perhaps you are a member of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Both jobs, I imagine, are incredible, but likely get exhausting after awhile like any job. You have to work hard to find success in the arts. And because the chances of “making it” (whatever that means) are so slim, most of society will advise you to take the safe and secure path.


I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, at the moment. Security is among the highest values of many working people. Many of us would rather risk our own happiness in pursuit of a steady paycheck and benefits. We deposit our Monday to Friday from 9 to 5 for a happy home life. For the last hundred or so years, this has served us well, but the future is quickly veering off into another direction. Security is becoming a risk.


Lost in the Numbers

As technology advances and artificial intelligence is on the rise, highly technical and analytical jobs will become more and more automated. Computers are already surpassing humans in some of these skillsets and while we will still need scientists and mathematicians to make discoveries through creative intelligence (something the robots don’t have), many of the entry-level type positions will be wiped out.


We are a society that places such a high value on numbers and metrics. My type of work can be difficult to sell. How do we measure empathy, awareness, generosity, and emotional intelligence? Sure, there are some standardized tests out there to measure these ambiguities, but they pale in comparison to numbers. Numbers have ruled every industry, from business to medicine, and we have measured our success according to these numbers.


But as machines take the torch when it comes to numbers, where will that leave us? Will we be jobless? If numbers cease to matter, how do we measure our progress? Especially as blockchain becomes mainstream and cryptocurrency may be a thing, it seems like metrics are becoming more and more blurred. The value of money is continuously decreasing, as will the value of humans.


Embracing Human Creativity

So, what should we do about this? Instead of trying to become more machine like, we should embrace that which makes us most human: our creativity. Involvement in the arts is only becoming more and more important as our society continues to advance. It will become essential for us to exercise our creative minds through music, theatre, dance, drawing, painting, and other arts in order to make us feel connected and whole. Without art, the world would become malnourished and nothing more than a coded algorithm for efficiency and optimization.


When 1+1 means little to nothing, we are all going to wish we placed a higher value on the intrinsic human qualities that make us unique individuals. We are quickly discovering that we should be measuring our progress, our success, and our happiness with those characteristics that are not easily measurable. It’s through these characteristics that we will be able to lead a more fulfilling life.