Arts at Work: Paul Mitchell
It was the late ‘90s and I found myself riffing poetry for a then start-up company calling itself Crumpler. These bike couriers had realised the bags they’d made for themselves to carry packages were a better business proposition than making deliveries. They needed a brochure and I was working in the same studio with the graphic designer who had developed their logo. “What do they want me to write?” I asked the designer. The message came back: “Just do what you want.” So I riffed some spoken-word-style poetry and Crumpler loved it. A creative partnership that lasted a decade was born.
Writing that catalogue was the moment I understood Humanities, specifically creative arts in my instance, could have a positive relationship with business. I have an MA in Creative Arts and I’m studying now for a PhD. I’ve published three books of fiction and poetry, as well as numerous stories, poems and articles (The Age, Good Weekend, Griffith Review). But, along with teaching, copywriting for businesses has undergirded my arts career.
I’ve found that progressive businesses value true creativity. For Commercial Eyes, an international pharmaceutical marketing company, I wrote a chaptered story with a health theme. The firm serialized it via their monthly e-news. I also wrote poetry for the company. This creativity in their e-news demonstrated to their clients that Commercial Eyes had a creative approach to business solutions. The company’s growth has been exponential.
In all my copywriting – and journalism – I try to keep a harmony between my creative self and the needs of my clients/publishers. When I look at the relationship between my humanities education and its business application, I see I have struggled with ethical questions and questions of artistic purity. This questioning is fundamental to an arts education. And I’ve found that progressive companies value ‘creatives’ who have the ability to question the status quo. I believe my internal wrestle in the nexus between artistic purity and commercial reality has positively informed my work for clients. My arts-based questioning mind has meant I’ve been able to deliver the truly creative results that clients want.