Forging a Creative Industries Career

Watch Honeycomb - Creative Works video interviews with musician Andrew WK, author and illustrator Oliver Jeffers and documentary filmmaker Emma Davies

'It’s never been a better time to be a creative person. There is more opportunity than ever. If your heart is into the excitement of this shared adventure of the living arts, then there’s really never been a better time for it.'

Words of wisdom from the hard rocking, motivational speaking, advice column writing musician and singer Andrew WK, famed for the hit single ‘Party Hard’. For those interested in forging a career within the creative industries, there is, perhaps, no more passionate individual to learn from.

'The idea that you could be professional at something that most people think is really stupid to be doing?' WK muses. 'I figured that’s what I wanted to do.'

The rock star was speaking at an event held in Belfast in association with Honeycomb - Creative Works, a £3.58m EU-funded business support programme aimed at the digital content sector in Northern Ireland, the six border counties of Ireland and the western seaboard of Scotland.

Over the past 18 months, Honeycomb has addressed the economic, educational, social and cultural needs of the digital content sector, in particular within the commercially focused areas of film and broadcast, animation, computer gaming, interactive media and music technologies.

Fiona McElroy, programme manager at Honeycomb explains: 'Now more than ever, it is important for artists and talented creatives to look for commercial applications for their skills. Honeycomb has sought to address some of the structural impediments to growth with interventions including network and cluster development, as well as a wide and deep programme of skills education and training. 

'The goal is to create a ready environment for the commercialisation of creative endeavour. Honeycomb has sought to encourage innovation and competiveness amongst existing businesses to create jobs for those seeking to follow their passions into the workplace.'

Amongst the speakers who have shared their knowledge and experience with event participants during the Honeycomb programme are the Belfast born award-winning author, illustrator and artist Oliver Jeffers, a great example of a local creative who has achieved global success with his art and storytelling skills.

Like WK, Jeffers is an advocate of making a career out of doing what you love. 'The first thing I decided to do when leaving college was to never, ever get a job,' he jokes, seriously.  

While Jeffers feels lucky that he now gets to 'really, truly do what I want for a living', it didn’t happen right away. 'It took a long time to convince people to trust me,' Jeffers admits, 'to show them that I was good at what I did. That forced me to really concentrate on what it actually was that I wanted.'

Jeffers' picture books have now been translated into more than 30 languages worldwide and sold millions of copies. He readily admits that he enjoys the freedom that success brings, 'as it leaves my head space to be curious about things and let it come out in different ways.'

BAFTA award winner Emma Davie’s love of documentary making, meanwhile, has resulted in a burgeoning career. 'There is something refreshing and exciting that you have to bring to your filmmaking, and that’s the way you look at the world and the way you are normally, the way you normally speak to people. The kind of things that you see that nobody else sees.'

Widely known and respected throughout in Hollywood for her visual effects work on blockbusters such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Star Trek: Into Darkness, Sandra Scott’s love for film grew from an early age.  

'My father was in advertising, so I grew up watching images all the time,' she says of her formative years. 'When I talked to a producer who worked with him and realised that, while he worked on the creative side he also scheduled and kind of had a hand in everything, I thought that was the job for me.'

Having also established herself as a creative force within a particularly challenging and competitive creative industry, Scott has some realistic advise for those aiming to follow her lead – that life in the film industry will never be played out in second gear.

'I love working with creative types, both the artists in our studio and some amazing and talented directors and producers, and also enjoy always being on the go and constantly switching gears, having to read a script one minute and look at numbers on spreadsheets the next.'

For further information and career advice from guest speakers on the Honeycomb – Creative Works programme, visit the Honeycomb Learning Videos page.