Welcome to the Creative Economy
28th February, 2009 by Brita Frost
How do you make money from ideas? It’s something that designers grapple
with every day but for many of us patents, intellectual property and
copyright law seem to be nothing more than a miasma of legal jargon.
For anyone working in the creative industries, the importance of this
stuff, dry as it is, can no longer be avoided. The creative economy now
represents a staggering US$2.2 trillion worldwide, and it continues to
grow. But not many of us understand in any detail trademarks VS
copyright, patents, the economics of digital technologies, or how to
effectively manage and distribute creativity. These things are worth
getting your head around, especially in tough economic times.
John Howkin’s classic, recently revised book, The Creative Economy takes us through everything from the importance of patents and intellectual property, to a breakdown of creativity, how it works and how to harness it. As Howkin’s argues, the fate of industries such as design, architecture and music are as dependent on the way that products are managed and distributed as they are on what is produced. Howkin’s book is an interesting, jargon-free read. Occasionally it verges on the academic but Howkin's has set himself a difficult task. He makes the incredibly complex world of copyright versus trademark interesting, patents positively compelling. Given that Howkin’s focus is the fairly nebulous world of creativity, he also manages to ground some fairly wafty ideas and includes some interesting interviews with people such Bob Geldof, ‘the world’s most famous literary agent’, Andrew Wylie and architect Richard Rogers.
This book is littered with important ideas and advice for those working in graphic or communication design but Howkin’s rarely directly addresses the graphic design industry. For some this may be a turn off but The Creative Economy is insightful and Howkin's arguments often fly in the face of the perceived wisdom of the last decade of so. Given the rapid and dramatic economic shifts of the last year Howkin’s arguments give anyone working in the creative industry reason to be optimistic. He argues “Creative products are the basis not only of information and new technologies but of the entire modern economy from software to shoes.” Creativity is big business, even in an economic downturn.
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