On Saturday, 29 April 2017 Creative Nestlings hosted a session for their dialogue series under the theme of Conversation on Creativity. The topic for the day aimed to navigate through the dynamics of the relationships between brands and young creatives in South Africa.
The speakers lined up for the event included Nandi Dlepu, Zwelibanzi Ngema, Mpumelelo Mfula, Inga Gubeka and Cedric Nzaka. The session was largely insightful, drawing from diverse perspectives and trades in the creative sector. As speakers shared their experiences and offered direction on the different challenges faced by fellow creatives, important discussions began to accelerate.
Given the innovative advancement of the tech world, digital devices and services are creating prospects for content to be created, exchanged and consumed in increasingly complex ways. However, this has created
challenges (and opportunities) for intellectual property systems arising from multiple trends.
Distribution models are shifting towards more rapid and global access. And of course, this issue of intellectual property became a buzzing concept during the discussion and it seemed to probe widespread curiosity. Ngema made an interesting point about how conveying a common message in your work is not only about tracking your work but communicating and imprinting your intellectual property. There was a general consensus amongst the guest speakers about seeking clarity on financial and protection implications of creative material. Creatives were encouraged to ask brands about the scope of content they would be expected to deliver; the intended platforms for distributing their material; as well as transparency on the usage of one’s work.
Nzaka highlighted another important issue which raised the concern of how service providers or entrepreneurs need to maintain integrity when working with brands so that they can deliver on the established expectations. “I see people saying they are content managers, multimedia designers and photographers on social media – meantime they don’t have a clue what any of that means. Do your research… never oversell yourself because if you can’t do the work properly that destroys the industry by lowering the standard of creative output” echoed Nzaka. Similarly, Dlepu (commonly also known as Mamakashaka) added that artists need to “respect the industry” by making sure that they have the necessary and appropriate skills to deliver the product when they are approached by brands to collaborate with them. This view was aimed at illustrating how valuable and professional work can serve as a way of building trust between brands and creatives as well as attracting investors in the industry as a whole.
The dialogue exposed a variety of other issues faced by creatives in the industry such as a more transformative representation of arts, content production processes, industry rates, financial management, township economy, bartering models for creatives trying to gain credibility and exercising power to redefine connotations associated with popular industry trade titles.
Although the bartering of services was explicitly criticised for creating a risk of perpetuating the characterization that artists lack monetary value, it was also acknowledged as an enabling tool for business and learning exchange, “especially in the beginning stages” said Mfula.
The dialogue certainly brought awareness of the interfaces between young creatives and brands. And, one
thing that was clear from the discussions was that “creatives everywhere seem to face the same
problems…from being ripped off to educating clients to surviving” Steve Morris expressed in a Tweet. The dialogue unlocked the need for creatives to devote themselves to researching their fields, seeking expert and legal counsel, and the possibility of crafting their own brands – brands which would speak to their own history, heritage and future.
Words: Ntombovuyo Linda
Independent Researcher and Content Strategist