Introducing the New Creative: 9 career skills you can’t ignore

Kati Russell, Created Learning Designer

If you’re thinking of joining the creative industries, or your creative career is already in full swing, this article is for you. We explore the 9 core career skills that no creative can afford to avoid if you’re serious about thriving in an industry that’s always in flux and where the future path of many creative roles is uncertain. Get on board with these 9 core skills now, and you’ll be in the camp of those who make it.

The New Creative Skills

The skills that future-proof your career against the rise of automation

Do robots dream of creative careers? Probably not… yet. In the evolving age of automation, we need to value and develop what makes us different from our data-driven kin. Right now, the three most significant things that separate human from machine are:

  • Empathy
  • Common sense
  • Creative capability

So what’s this got to do with you and your sweet new role in the creative industries?

These are three areas that robots are least competent in and they’re also some of the key attributes that industry is looking for when hiring creatives like you. Humans 1 – Robots 0. That isn’t where it ends. To get the role or commission, it’s about continual understanding and developing in these three spaces.

The ultimate question is… How do you be more human?

The portfolio is no longer the passport to entry. You have to keep levelling up in more ways than one. Your personal growth and professional development are of equal importance, to you and industry. A continued commitment to tuning up your craft is never going to be in question but now the real work begins; it’s time to bring your whole self to the work party. Bring on the geeks, the weirdos, the dreamers, the obsessives, the passionate and even the couldn’t give a shitters.

Know you and grow you.

Created set out with a mission to develop the new creative for the evolved industry. We asked creative and design directors, studio heads and talent agents what specifically they look for when hiring fresh talent.

It’s time to define the components. To delineate what that ideal looks like. To describe it in what is visible, actionable, measurable and related directly back to industry needs.

After hours of interviews, here are the foundations of the new 21st century commercial creative, in the words of Framestore, Mainframe, The Mill, BBC Creative, venturethree, ETC, Motion Hatch, and Bee Grandinetti of Punanimation.

Self Leadership

Having a developed sense of who you are, what you are capable of and where you want to get to, along with the ability to influence your emotions, communication and behaviours to help you get there. In other words, having the self-awareness and understanding to know what and how you need to develop in order to achieve your goals.

My role is to find great human beings. I’m not just looking for a good designer, I’m looking for a well-rounded individual. Someone who is aware of their strengths and weaknesses, they’re realistic about their abilities and know when and where to ask for support and when to give it.

Laurence Honderick
Head of Design at BBC Creative


The ability to be agile across many environments, briefs and audiences in a positive manner.

In terms of our requirements, one of the key skills we’re looking for is adaptability. No two projects that come through the door are the same, so we need our artists to be able to shift between styles and techniques as the projects dictate.

Adam Jenns
Founder and Executive Producer at Mainframe

Emotional Intelligence

The capacity to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions, and the ability to recognise the emotions of others so that you can handle relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Awareness and control of your own emotions are so important as a creative and too often overlooked. We’re so connected to our creative output that it takes real skill to check in with yourself and control how you express your feelings when you’re under pressure and in different professional environments. From how you motivate yourself, to how you read a client’s reaction, this kind of skill is something you just can’t do without.

Paul Dixon
Motion Designer & Director


The ability to effectively share and exchange information through all forms of communication (written, verbal, non-verbal, emotional).

Communication is fundamental for projects to progress, evolve and deliver. An artist will need to confidently converse with producers, clients and teammates throughout the whole creative process. Artists are required to successfully communicate their ideas and vision for a brief and also accurately communicate how long they need to carry out tasks. A great artist who communicates well will be a very valuable member of the team.

Harry Jones
General Manager at Electric Theatre Collective


The ability to create a working synergy with one person or more in order to create a project or piece of work.

Collaboration is fundamental to everything we do at venturethree. Whether we’re in the studio or with clients around the globe, we blend strategy, design and experience to create world-class brands. Collaboration to us therefore sparks ideas, challenges limitations and pushes creativity.

Jason Peacock
Senior Motion Designer at venturethree

Creative Entrepreneur Skills

You are a business, in and of yourself. Managing your time, income streams, partnerships and brand are all part of the lifestyle of a creative. You’re almost certainly going to be freelance and will have the potential own your own company. Either way, it’s crucial to have confidence in your inner entrepreneur.

If you’re freelancing, it’s important to be aware that you are running your own business. You are responsible for your income, where the next project is coming from and all the “boring” but necessary stuff like taxes. That shouldn’t scare you, it should give you a sense that you can build your business in any way you want.

Hayley Akins
Founder at Motion Hatch

Portfolio Creation

The art of creating an impactful presentation of you and your work is as much a craft as the work itself.

We’re looking for people who have an understanding of the level of professionalism that it takes for us to create the work that we do. We’ll be looking for the same from them.

Henry Foreman
Head of Design at The Mill
Portfolio creation


Mastery of individual and group creative process. You need to be experienced in the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of making, as well as have the ability to execute excellent craft skills.

The creatives who standout are those with a strong process and diverse practice. Constantly learning, they have a variety of ideas and multiple ways to execute them.

Niamh O’Donohoe
Senior Design Producer at Framestore


The ability to create powerful narratives across different mediums, for various purposes in a captivating and memorable way.

In a world where we're constantly struggling to navigate the excess of information around us, our work can easily become forgotten. But we do remember pieces that made us feel something. Good stories mess with our emotions, they linger in our heads and get us thinking for hours (if not days). Telling a good story should be priority number one. Beautifully made pieces, but completely depleted of feeling are bound to be forgotten the following day.

Bee Grandinetti
Freelance and Co-founder at Punanimation

So there you have it. These are the core skills and competencies that the creative industry is looking for, and, frankly, what the future of the industry will depend on as tech and automation continue to evolve around us.

Want to brush up on your skills? Created’s Motion Design career course still has a few available spaces. Apply now and learn everything you need to know to be confident, competent and creative in your next career chapter.

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