London adman Paul Burke sparked controversy after writing a piece in which he argued: "If you work in advertising and call yourself a 'creative', why on earth would you move away from London, away from the very hub of creativity?" Now Pete Bastiman of Manchester agency BJL considers the possibility that there may be life outside the capital after all...
Maybe it’s because I’m not a Londoner, that I’m so much more accepting, free-thinking and able to see beyond a ringroad than some that dwell in the nation’s capital.
While there’s no doubting there is a rich vein of creativity in London, I believe creativity is defined by the minds, influences and ambitions of the people who embrace it, rather than whatever hub they choose to live in.
Of course input is important to the output of creative minds, but stimulus and influence are wherever you choose to find them. Michelangelo, Monet, Miley Cyrus, some of the most talented and creative minds in history seemed to do pretty well without basing themselves in the 55th best city to live in the world, according to the recent findings of the Economist Intelligence Unit global “liveability” study.
Shops have begun opening up in and around Manchester on a regular basis for some time now and there’s even a hint of comedy and music knocking around if you have time to come out from inside your hub. I recently received a memo about something called t’internet and one of my secretaries has just handed me today’s post with news of a phenomenon called social media, where ideas and creativity are apparently abound and available to people no matter what their postcode.
I confess that on the occasional rainy day we have up north, I sometimes wonder for a moment whether that by not being in, on, or around the London hub I’m at risk of losing my creative edge. But then I look around at the institutions, arts and ideas that exist outside London and quickly get over the idea that I’m betraying my own creative ability and robbing the world of another would-be, could-be Londoner.
Of course there are people who live in London that are more creative than I’ll ever be, but I can’t help wondering how much more humble and happier with their work they would be, if they could see creativity as less of a competition and more of a reward.
And what about those people that don’t work in advertising at all, while simultaneously choosing not to live in London? Despite those two self-imposed handicaps, as I’m sure some would see them, I’d say there’s a good chance creative expression still finds a way to make its way to the surface.
I read in a blog recently that that the older you get the more important it is to stay in touch with everything that’s going on. All I can is thank f*ck I’m surrounded by creative people, in a vibrant environment in a corner of the country bursting with ideas, so that I don’t feel the need to define myself and others by geography.
Pete Bastiman is creative director at Manchester advertising agency BJL
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