Let’s paint, dance, draw, sculpt, photograph and write our way to creative jobs in technology

For those of you not already familiar with the word, STEM is an acronym to describe the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. The term, first used by the US National Science Foundation in 2001, describes the four core subjects deemed to underpin the wide variety of careers in technology, pharma, engineering, medical, data science, etc. Well now there is a new kid on the block and it is called “Art & Design” and it’s making a very strong case to being an essential part in all of the careers listed above and many more.

At first glance, Art & Design may look a little out of place in the STEM domains but let me explain why I believe it’s fundamental to how these fields have evolved in recent years and will develop going forward.

Artists design. They create. They invent. They solicit emotion. There is complete freedom of expression and every piece is unique. Are these not the qualities we seek in innovation and business success? Artists and designers play a greater role in society today than they ever did in the past. Yes, their implements may have evolved from acrylic paints and clay to computer code and digital workbenches, but the creativity is more evident than ever. Today, they play the crucial role of taking form and function (something that works) and transforming it into a tangible experience (how something looks and feels). They turn flat 2D images into 3D experiential moments. Why is this important? Because User Experience Matters. It matters a lot!

It concerns me when I hear people say that jobs in STEM are not creative. That may have been true ten years ago but the world has changed. Today, science, engineering and technology have been transformed by design. Because of this, creative digital skills are now in high-demand and are considered a niche skillset. Many people have a natural artistic talent but are not truly aware of the career choices and opportunities open to them. As these people leave the school system and consider next steps, we need to change the conversation from “You’re so creative, you should be an art teacher or book illustrator” to “you’re so creative, you should be an app developer, a multimedia designer, a product designer, an artificial intelligence engineer, a civil engineer, a medical devices technician, an animator, a game developer, a user experience engineer, a virtual reality designer ……” I could keep going. There is a whole suite now of what’s called “Creative Technology jobs” emerging on recruitment websites.

And don’t think that Art and design is far removed from mathematics either. Consider how statistics can be turned into an immersive story through clever use of art, design and storytelling like those created by the late Hans Rosling in the The Joy of Stats or how a main concept in calculus (the use of straight lines to represent curves), can be expressed through string art, a concept invented by Mary Everest, wife of George Boole in the 19th century. Look around you and you will see mathematics everywhere in the beauty of nature, even Donald Duck tried to teach us that one in Mathmagic land.

Adding art and design to STEM fields adds a new way of thinking and a diversity of thought and with that comes innovation. In order to solve the challenges of today, we need to think differently and we need to be creative. Guess who the creative people are? Yes – the artists, the designers, the sculptors, the producers, the costume designers, the tattoo artists, the musicians, the playwrights and the authors.

I don’t know about you but I want my future to be bright and vivid, to have contrast and depth, to inspire and evoke emotion and to be in full colour! Calling all artists, photographers, sculptors and dreamers – join the STEAM movement. Let’s think science, technology, engineering, maths and the Arts, and let’s talk STEAM.