The Creative Mentor Network shines a light on barriers to entry

A new book raises awareness of the industry’s socioeconomic diversity problem

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


The Creative Mentor Network has launched a new book, Making It In The Creative Industry: A Practical Guide, designed to raise awareness of the creative industry's socioeconomic diversity problem and encourage mentorship.

The charity, which is on a mission to make the creative industries more socio-economically diverse and inclusive, partnered with AnalogFolk to launch the book. Copies of the satirical manual, which pulls no punches, are being shared with industry leaders. 

The book successfully highlights the multiple barriers that young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds face when trying to get a job and succeed in the creative industry. The proportion of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds working in the creative industry has more than halved since the 1970s, falling from 16.4% to just 7.9%.

Katie Thomson-Greene, Managing Director at Creative Mentor Network, explains: "Whilst some people may be able to laugh at themselves, we understand this book may challenge people’s perspectives and make them feel uncomfortable. If that's the case, it highlights that change needs to happen more. For too long, the industry has been dominated by people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds who have not faced the same barriers as those from less privileged backgrounds.”

She continues: “From unpaid internships, network-driven recruitment and even awareness of the jobs that exist, there are too many invisible barriers that many people don't think about but are making it even harder for the young creatives in our community. Our hope is that this book will shed light on these barriers and inspire individuals and businesses to act towards creating a more diverse and inclusive industry. We envision an industry that values individuality, creativity, and skill above nepotism and homogeneity. This book is a call to action for anyone who shares that vision."

Creative industries can and should reflect our cultural landscape and the communities we live in. There’s a hotbed of undiscovered talent out there that’s not getting a look in or being considered properly.

Colin Byrne, Regional Executive Creative Director, Europe at AnalogFolk

The book, which is accompanied by hard-hitting statistics and illustrations by award-winning artist Toby Leigh, also known as Tobatron, makes for uncomfortable reading. Its razor-sharp copy successfully shines a light on the numerous barriers to entry to an industry which remains informal and driven by a patchwork of informal rules and networks which combine to uphold the status quo. 

As the book explains: “There is a good reason why imposter syndrome is so common among people from lower socio-economic backgrounds: the creative industry is silly and everything is made up. Literally no one knows what they’re doing, but some people are more comfortable pretending they do. To fit in, live with debilitating self-doubt inwardly, but emit boisterous arrogance outwardly.”

The book also takes aim at the gap between rhetoric and reality surrounding ‘borderless creativity’ explaining: “At some point in time, it was decreed that no creative industry could exist any further north than Watford and should ideally be contained within the arcane circle that is the M25.” 

There is a paradox at the heart of the creative industry: entry-level jobs can require two years of experience. The challenge is how do you build that experience before getting an entry-level job which would enable you to build that experience? The book’s advice? Time travel.

Colin Byrne, Regional Executive Creative Director, Europe at digital creative agency AnalogFolk, explains: "Creative industries can and should reflect our cultural landscape and the communities we live in. There’s a hotbed of undiscovered talent out there that’s not getting a look in or being considered properly. The talent is losing out, the creative community is losing out and we are doing a disservice to the people we’re creating for. That's why we're so proud to work with Creative Mentor Network to highlight the importance of driving change and creating a more inclusive and accessible industry for everyone.”

Trevor Johnson, Head of Marketing, GBS, EUI at TikTok, added: "This book is a helpful step towards breaking down the barriers that have hindered the progress of aspiring young talents from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Working with Creative Mentor Network in the past, I've seen the incredible impact their mentoring programs have had on young creatives. By providing guidance and support, we have the power to unlock the untapped potential of these aspiring artists, designers, and innovators. It's not just about changing lives; it's about transforming our industry for the better."

The Creative Mentor Network aims to change the industry so that the ‘advice’ in this book is no longer relatable to anyone. To this end, it is calling on industry leaders to sign up to support creatives from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

To become a Creative Mentor Network mentor and partner and support young creatives from lower socio-economic backgrounds trying to enter the industry click here.