How to become a creative changemaker and help push the industry forward

A growing community of creatives is challenging our industry and the people in it to do better. These creative professionals use the obstacles they faced early in their careers as motivation to push for change.

Over the last two years, I have been gradually introduced to this community of creative changemakers while working as an editor at Make Bank, a social project fighting creative poverty in UK schools. When researching our online content that aims to show young people that a creative career is a viable life choice, I’m constantly on the lookout for projects and organizations that work for inclusion… and I have plenty found of it!

One socially motivated project led me to the next and the next until I discovered a whole world of artful activism. By shining a spotlight on underrepresented communities and demanding the equal opportunities they deserve, each of these projects addresses a small part of the same big goal: an industry that reflects and celebrates the diversity of our world.

Here are five ways you can get involved in this inclusive design movement:

1. Become a mentor

Whether you’re fresh out of art school or changing careers later in life, finding your first creative role is notoriously difficult. This is all the more true for those who have no financial cushion to fall back on or do not see themselves represented in the industry they so desperately want to enter.

Many aspiring creatives could use a head start, and the most direct way to offer one is to become a mentor. Good Nugget, a design agency that also functions as a social enterprise, has a mentoring program with a particular focus on supporting mentees from underrepresented backgrounds. The Arena, a community-driven online platform, also offers a mentoring program designed to ensure no one feels alone while taking their first professional steps.

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You also don’t need to have decades of experience as a mentor. It can be just as useful to hear from someone early in their career. The term “mentor” can sound a bit too formal, so just introduce yourself as a slightly more experienced new friend. You may not be able to answer all of your mentee’s questions, but you can share useful resources and second-hand knowledge.

As a mentee and mentor, I found the most encouraging piece of advice: nobody really knows what they’re doing, especially when they’re first starting out.

2. Keep learning

One should never stop learning: who hasn’t heard this advice before? However, it’s important to remember that broadening your perspective can be just as beneficial to your creative output as honing your skills.

When we’re pushing for change, it’s important to know who we’re really pushing for and why. Different formats of educational content are appropriate for different types of learners. If you’re a classic reader, online platforms like Fuse MCR, Intern, and Design Can continuously publish and share insightful food for thought.

If you prefer your education to be delivered audibly, see What Is Your Working Class? is a podcast highlighting the experiences of working-class creatives in education and beyond. There is a wealth of content online that gives a voice to those who need it; It’s all about taking the time to listen.

Committing to change doesn’t have to mean starting a social project that takes up all your free time. Whether it’s a few hours once a week or 20 minutes a day, simply consuming alternative views also helps. The broader our perspective, the more inclusive decisions we will make.

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3. Start with inclusivity

Large parts of the internet are inaccessible for people with visual impairments, visual impairments, hearing losses and motor impairments. This represents an unnecessary obstacle for the 18% of the population living with these disabilities. It’s a barrier that designers are perfectly positioned to overcome.

We’re All Human is an online resource hub built on a key principle: design should start with inclusivity. They encourage creatives to start thinking about how to maximize website accessibility right at the start of the design process, rather than thinking after the fact. To help web designers do this, they have compiled an extensive list of online resources including color palette makers, typography guidelines, and accessibility checkers.

Equipping designers with these important tools aims to invert the narrative of accessibility in design. People with different needs are not the problem; is not inclusive design.

4. Use different directories

There is much talk about ensuring that people from underrepresented social and economic backgrounds have equal access to opportunities. But why not bring the opportunity directly to them? There are many stock-based directories full of talented makers from marginalized communities to help you. Hire Black Female Creatives, Working Class Creative Database, Black Disabled Creatives, Ájífa, Asian Creators Index and Agents For Change are just a few examples.

Pushing for change is about shaking up the system. Using carefully curated directories to find talent is a great way to do this.

5. Share your story

How many different design jobs did you know when you were in high school? If you’re anything like me, your knowledge doesn’t extend beyond art teachers, painters, and children’s book illustrators.

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At Make Bank, we try to counteract this by sharing the stories of creators from all corners of the creative industry. Demonstrating the wealth of exciting opportunities in our industry is particularly important for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not see a career in the arts as a financially viable option. We want to show them how it’s possible to make a decent living by pursuing your passion, while also highlighting the many other benefits that a creative life can offer.

Our Career Stories resource is about more than just expanding the list of design careers. It’s about proving that you can build a successful career regardless of your gender, sexuality, race, ability or economic background.

We don’t shy away from the challenges people face, but we emphasize that – with the help of some creative friends – you can overcome any obstacle you face. True storytelling is one of our most powerful tools, and every creator has a story to tell.

Break down the barriers

We all know that there are barriers to entering the creative industries that simply shouldn’t be there. Each of the above projects works to break down these barriers and everyone is invited to help.

The more I work in the inclusive-driven sector and connect with this community of creative changemakers, the more positive I see our collective ability to improve our industry from within. Let’s all work together to change things for the better.

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