Cover Photo: Nick Morrison/Unsplash

How three veterans in the creative industry came up with this novel idea of connecting creatives with potential employers via Cult Creative

On June 14, a particularly polarising article in The Sunday Times made headlines in Singapore over the internet, as the results of a commissioned survey revealed that within the context of a pandemic, the number one non-essential profession perceived by the people was ‘artist’, followed closely by telemarketers, social media managers, PR specialists, businesses consultants as well as human resource managers.

While the creative industry were none too happy (nor surprised) about the results that stem from an age-old notion, herein lies the conundrum in an era where we’ve never been more dependent on advanced technology, that regardless of its function, medium or form, the content we consume online is ultimately a concept marketed to us by design—which begs the question of why the creative industry is considered secondary to the conventionally lucrative ones when creativity, often synonymous to innovation, clearly sells.

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It was this question, coupled alongside a need to address the lack of a sustainable, ergonomic solution when it came to being able to source as well as utilise the diverse talent in the region, that led to the inception of Cult Creative, an online platform and soon-to-be launched mobile application in September that was “designed for creatives, by creatives”. Shermaine Wong, the company’s first founding member and its chief executive officer, was also the founder of Tish Events, who pivoted towards the virtual space as soon as the lockdown ensued in March 2020, the very month
she delivered her second child (and prior to this issue’s release, was just about to deliver her third).

“After having worked in the creative industry for a decade, my one struggle was that despite the abundance of local talent, there was no convenient way to actually find them as we didn’t have a networking platform that was specifically designed for creatives—it was always word of mouth, especially for freelancers,” Wong explains. “And while there’s LinkedIn, there wasn’t a space to showcase creative portfolios, consequently convoluting the whole job application process where employers as well as applicants alike have to deal with multiple links that may not be geared towards the job’s specific needs in the first place.”

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Manisha Jagan, fellow co-founding member and chief marketing officer, echoed similar sentiments and illustrates that by retrofitting a social platform like Cult Creative to allow creatives the space to build their portfolios and peer-to-peer network, it encourages the industry’s growth as collaborations and mentorships between professionals foster continuous learning, which, according to Jagan, can then “amplify all the possibilities of one’s job scope” to further adapt to their current working environments while increasing their own value as creative professionals, such as a graphic designer looking to become a UI/UX designer, or fashion majors taking up copywriting to venture into the tech-fashion industry.

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“The question isn’t proving the quantitative value of the creative industry, but how we can showcase its existing quality and impress that value within the professionals themselves,” says Jagan. “We lose a lot of local talent to industries overseas due to the brain drain phenomena as they’re hard-pressed to find better prospects locally, and so, by establishing a proper platform, we can prevent our talent pool from stagnating due to younger talents being overlooked as they lack the network.”

Stressing that the focus was simply empowering creatives by enabling them to create opportunities based on their own merit, Lina Esa, co-founder and editorial director, shares that Cult Creative’s business model is a grassroots initiative that welcomed professionals of all levels including entry-level graduates, who, more than ever, needed to understand how to further optimise their chosen vocations so as to prepare themselves for the demands of the present industry.

“It’s really about listening to the needs of both the industry and the stakeholders involved,” states Esa. “Which is why, at Cult Creative, we wanted to make sure that everything we do adds even more value to what creatives do, and we host workshops as well as panel discussions for that very reason. When we first started, our tagline was being a ‘creative collective for the future’—we’re not looking to be the next Fiverr or LinkedIn, but a space that elevates career potential and growth.”

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