I have been delving into the brand new Report on The Creative Economy of the Los Angeles Region,* just released a couple weeks ago. For a copy go here. As a relative newcomer to Los Angeles, I continue to be amazed by the spirit of creativity that surrounds us here (and I came here from a pretty creative place—Silicon Valley). Of course here in LA we see creativity manifested in the entertainment and performing arts areas in a big way. But I believe we also see it in little ways like the incredibly effective and striking logo on a vehicle of a small landscaping company or the way young people express themselves through fashion, mixing up styles from different parts of the world or mixing modern and vintage into a stylish and cohesive whole. Creativity, diversity, color, inventiveness truly permeate the LA culture. And it shows.
The Report on Creativity captures this spirit quantitatively: one in six jobs in the region are in creative industries (over 1 million jobs) resulting in $121 billion in sales/receipts in Los Angeles county. Industry sectors encompass entertainment, product and industrial design, fine and performing arts, toys, fashion, digital media, communication arts and others. The report outlines interesting ideas that were “born” in LA. Some are not surprising—the modern bathing suit, talking movies, electric guitar, skateboard, valet parking, modern makeup—but others are a little surprising, like the fortune cookie, the first railroad gate crossing, and arc welding of gas pipelines.
Fortunately, the report concludes that many creative industry sectors will see employment growth over the next three years, especially digital media (10% growth), industrial design and art galleries (7-8% growth), architecture, interior design and fine and performing arts (5-6%). Specialized design services like fashion and toy design will increase even as the local manufacturing of those products is expected to decrease.
But I also think there is a role for expanding the role of creativity in all types of work. We often hear that creativity and innovation is our country’s key competitive advantage. If so, how can we grow that advantage? We know what creativity looks like in the traditional creative industries, but I am wondering how we can broaden our view of creativity. How can we capture and incorporate creativity into more of our work outside the traditional creative industries? What is creativity in these other contexts? More importantly, how can it be enhanced? These are questions I am currently exploring. I am interesting in your thoughts on this.
In case you are interested in expanding your skills to prepare for opportunities in the creative industries, my own organization, UCLA Extension, is responding to these trends with expanded and updated programs in digital media, design communication arts and visual arts and interior design. A new program in user experience design will support the growing industrial design sector. These open enrollment, post-graduate certificate programs allow anyone to learn and network in a flexible and convenient way.
* Prepared by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and sponsored by Otis College of Art and Design.