Can We Afford to Be Creative in London? Part One

Being a young creative in London pretty much sucks right now. Our favourite clubs are being shut down (R.I.P Fabric), our cultural spaces are disappearing, tuition fees are sky high, wages are the lowest they’ve ever been and rent rates have never been higher. Our City is known for its diverse, multi-cultural art scene, but artists and young entrepreneurs are being priced-out. To investigate, from independent publishers to knitwear designers, we asked creatives currently living in the city, can we afford to be creative in London?

I think it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting priced out of London, but we just have to tackle it in our own way.

Katie Jones, Knitwear Designer 

I currently live in London with my boyfriend and best friend and his boyfriend, I could only afford to live as 2 couples sharing but we are all creatives so it’s a great atmosphere work and live in.I love London and how vibrant it is but it’s stressful that it costs so much. I have been super lucky this year after winning the Selfridges Award and I also was awarded my studio space by Cockpit Arts. A year has quickly raced around the prospect of finding a space big enough I can afford terrifies me, there are amazing grants and awards out there to help you start up! I think it’s hard not to feel like you’re getting priced out of London, but we just have to tackle it in our own way.  Work out a different way to make it work and sharing spaces which is a great way to work in creative communities.

Whether you make it in the industry or not, it should be about talent and drive, not whether you can afford to work for free.

Ellie CP, Fashion student  

London is such a wonderfully diverse place, everyone has such different history and comes from completely different walks of life. It has such a wealth of culture and inspirations, and so has a blossoming art scene that’s been growing for a long time before I was even born. However, it’s almost impossible for artists to make money in the city. Everything costs, costs, costs – travel costs, film costs, developing costs, printing costs, nothing comes for free and yet you will be expected to work for free all the time. I’ve never been paid for a shoot, despite working on ones for huge international magazines and small independents. My zine was free to buy and all of my writing work has been unpaid. To make it in London, you have to be willing to work and prove yourself for free before someone will hire you for actual money. It’s this that is making t hard for artists – I’m lucky, I work on a Saturday in a jewellery shop. This means I can afford to travel to my unpaid jobs and buy film, as well as afford the train fare to uni. However, so many creatives don’t have an income that allows them to do this, meaning they might miss out on experience and exposure simply due to costs. Whether you make it in the industry or not, it should be about talent and drive, not whether you can afford to work for free.

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