My struggle to navigate the world ‘unlocking’ resonated with a few of you - thanks for all your emails and the sharing of practices. Sending this out into the void can feel a little lonely at times, so it was really lovely to hear from people :)
An article that summarised my emotional state brilliantly states in its opening, “There’s a name for the Blah you’re feeling: it’s called languishing. The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.” After reading it, I felt very seen. I hope it helps others.
Another one of my struggles - dressing appropriately - was brilliantly explored in The Atlantic’s June issue. “What do you wear to the reopening of society?... Clothes are a language we use to tell others about ourselves; fashion is a conversation. If there are no other people to talk to, then what’s the point?”
Third struggle – how can we support creating and displaying art/content made by different gazes? Or, more directly put – why Universal Creative Income is an answer to art monoculture.
The New Deal was a series of federal programmes in 1930’s America, which were created to “ameliorate growing discontent and inspire civic feeling” amid the great depression. Arguably the most important scheme was Project No.1, which sought to employ artists across music, design, visual art, theatre and writing in the tens of thousands across the US. This support created a new era of creativity in America. It cemented the arts as an essential part of what constituted a democracy and the artist a pivotal part of a working economy.
We have global job insecurity, widening income inequality, and divided communities - sound familiar? It is more pressing than ever to create programs that create space for all types of people to become creators like Project No.1.
How might we achieve this? Universal Creative Income. **Universal Basic Income (UBI) is another, albeit untargeted, way to fund creative action.
“Providing creators with a basic income may be a wise strategy to incentivise more creators to devote more time to content creation. TikTok’s Creator Fund announcement echoes this sentiment: The U.S. fund will start with $200 million to help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content” Li Jing, HBR. (Please read this article)
Why else is this important?
Research shows that children from high-income (top 1%) families are ten times as likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families.
Someone whose family has an income of $100,000 is twice as likely to become an artist, actor, musician, or author than someone from a family with a $50,000 income. Those from households with an annual income of $1 million are ten times more likely to become artists than families with a $100,000 income.
The average household income of an American Caucasian is $77,000, the average income of an American Hispanic is $56,000, and an African American is $45,000.
Online content creators tend to be from relatively privileged groups; the content of online services based on their contributions may be biased towards what is most interesting or relevant to them.
The creative economy 'employs a lower proportion of women than men, with 37.1% of jobs in the creative industries filled by women. Creative directors are overwhelmingly male, 96.4% (86% of them are white).
Creative thinking is more likely to be associated with masculine qualities - jeopardising women’s positions within creative industries. Research shows that beliefs about what it takes to 'think creatively' overlap substantially with male stereotypes, creating systematic bias in how men and women's creativity is evaluated.
What this all means is that creators remain primarily white, male and upper-middle-class. So a large part of the art or content we see that is assigned as valuable is from their gaze. It also means the things that get made are again designed from white upper-middle-class perspectives, making it more likely that this art ignores the racial, gender, and class hierarchies we live within – even if well-meaning. We need to level the field and provide practical access and support to others.
Art inspires us to see the world and our futures differently. We need intersectional artists to show us what an intersectional future would look like because we all know we can’t imagine a future we can’t see! Art can’t be ring-fenced for the privileged few, and UCI can help us get there.
Some more utopia thinking from Arnsberg, Germany. The cities department for future ageing has made it a prototype for how cities worldwide can help their older residents thrive. The unique department is rooted in insight and conducted a survey conducted with 28,000 respondents aged over 50 exploring wishes and expectations for old age. They emphasised a desire to participate in social life, contribute to society actively, and continue learning in old age. The work they have been doing focuses on what seniors could still offer, unlike other states that design for what they can no longer do and primarily put resources into nursing homes. Read the inspiring story here.
A recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Stopping the Manipulation Machines,” derided the use of dark patterns: design tricks that push people to do things online by confusing or deliberately inconveniencing them. “Dark patterns don’t completely prevent an action; they slyly tax our cognitive resources and eat up our time, so we become more likely to do what the designer wants.” But what they found is that they do it themselves; their ‘roach motel’ derides to prevent its subscribers from cancelling. This brilliant medium piece helps us see solutions. “When building any tool, the designers can ask: If people knew everything the designer knows, would they still take the intended action? If the answer is no, then there is an issue.”
The more we learn about the internet, the more we uncover how internet kleptocracy (when corrupt leaders use political power to appropriate their nation's wealth) profits from disinformation, polarisation, and rage. This is hugely impacting our democracy. Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev believe - “an internet that promotes democratic values instead of destroying them—that makes conversation better instead of worse—lies within our grasp.”
As we know, 2020 was quite the year. The NY Times uncover eight ways a modern civil rights movement moved the culture, from music to movies, cancelled podcasts to toppled monuments; our writers take stock of the culture we shared in the year after George Floyd’s murder.
Know about the new app that pulled in a cool 200K U.S. downloads on its first day, already totalling an insane 1.3M downloads worldwide over the last four days… Meet Poporazzi. It is a feed full of your candids snaps taken by the people who love you the most – your pals. Rather than posting your selfie snaps on Insta, which Gen Z twitterafia all established feels cringy af. The app lets you entrust your pals to capture your ‘essence’ and govern the style of your social presence - it is the anti-selfie club.
Rolling with the Gen Z theme, I-D boldly states the fashion archetype is dead - and Gen Z killed it. They explore what happened to fashion’s fictional muses. “The idea of her was born from a singular preoccupation once shared by all designers: the modern woman. When designers spoke of her, they called her by their name — the Chanel woman being one of the first to become a fully formed archetype… The narrow constraints of the branded woman came to stand in conflict with the increasingly inclusive conditions of contemporary fashion.” It’s a great read and something we have long been working with our clients on - psychographic typologies.
A brilliant Substack - Sunroom - defines the new Gen Z aesthetic as the death of "premium mediocre" and the birth of "intentional ugly". Since the ‘Millenial’ aesthetic became so saturated and manufactured, Gen Z is painting an entirely new canvas. “A dark, academic aesthetic is common. Presented in an “Aesthetic mood board” which are huge on Instagram. Gen Z aren’t afraid to lean into their nerdiness.” I am very into their almost art history lesson dissection.
I wish that my ‘investments’ in Italian leather was considered financial literacy when I was in my 20’s! Vogue Business states - “young people are gravitating to high-ticket luxury and streetwear pieces as alternative assets, as financial literacy and investment surges among Gen Z. From crypto to clothes: Why Gen Z are investors now.” They increasingly see fashion as an alternative asset class, with more cultural significance than traditional stocks and shares.
Interesting to see how this intersects with the above. Banknotes believe food is the new streetwear. “Let me frame this up by acknowledging two obvious characteristics that exist in streetwear and also translate to this new food culture: exclusivity and mystery.” I hope the food brand I am currently working with is paying attention 👀
Until next time,