Have you ever watched a teenager creating posts for social media? It’s fascinating, writes Bradley Pulford as VP & Managing Director for HP Africa. While most of us, in our 30s and beyond are content with selecting a photo as is, and posting it, these digital natives are significantly more skilled, and comfortable, when it comes to expressing themselves creatively.

They look at the world through curious, and artistic lenses, framing moments and imagining how they will appear on social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

When they’re creating content, like a video, they become director and producer rolled into one, from finding the perfect locations, finding beauty and interest where many might not, framing the angles, running the storyboard in their minds, analysing the angles and finally bringing to life a one-of-a-kind work of art. Their fingers fly over keyboards, comfortable with hashtags, search terms, and editing graphics like they were born to do it, because frankly, they were.

Digital natives don’t see technology just as specific devices or tools, rather it is seen as essential to living their lives. As a generation, they are redefining our interactions and relationships with technology, Gen Z are redefining the way they – and by extension we – see and operate in the world. For this generation, video conferencing services such as Zoom, MS Teams, Telegram or WhatsApp video calls, for example, are accepted as a mode of face-to-face communication not a disconnect, as they redefine what interpersonal communication means today.

While Millennials before them saw YouTube as a passive viewing platform, Gen Z consume differently, preferring to create their own content to share with the world.

Gen Z creatives are helping to redefine the way that we experience the world

The pandemic had a huge impact on the creative sector across the world, and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost. Gen Z have, in many instances, taken things in their stride, innovating rapidly, and accelerating digitalisation. Artists in small towns have moved onto new online exhibition spaces; actors participated in online, interactive productions; and dancers have performed Swan Lake solos in their living rooms.

Because of their comfort in operating in a digital world, Gen Z’s ability to move effortlessly to a life lived predominantly online, also helped to fuel new start-ups, and helped to ensure that many businesses could continue largely as usual. They have implemented new operating models, with musicians and comedians offering tickets to online limited audience shows, while other creatives use non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to sell digital art, whether its drawings, music, or strategic concepts. They continue to use their creativity and innovative spirits to showcase their work, and to engage with audiences, bringing all of us in various stages of isolation, closer together, and remind us just how much creativity feeds our souls.

An Adobe survey, conducted at the end of 2020, revealed that 82 percent of creatives said that the year has forever changed how they create, and 83 percent said it is more important than ever to expand their creative skill sets. It’s not just about having the creative skills, however – it’s about understanding how to launch and grow your brand or business. With many creatives being self-taught, that’s not necessarily a skill in their toolset.

That’s why it is so important to support creatives and give them the tools, and skills they can use to create, and innovate within our fluid environment.  HP LIFE is a useful, free, skills-training program for creatives entrepreneurs, business owners, and lifelong learners all over the world that is aimed at helping individuals to start, manage and market their own businesses.

The ability to create is limitless

Earlier this year at HP global, we acknowledged the emotional lenses through which many of us are viewing the world, and our future. It was from this perspective that we decided to ask seven talented designers, animators, and graphic artists from New York, and Idaho in the United States, the Netherlands, and Colombia – our Z by HP Global Ambassadors, to create something wholly original, inspired by the natural world. Their challenge was to produce it with Z by HP high-performance gear, that was designed to propel creatives’ 3D, VFX, photography, design, motion graphics and video editing workflows.

We wanted it to be a truly collaborative effort. The results of these ambassadors experimenting with new tools and techniques, and pushing HP’s high-performance workstations and monitors to their limits was truly remarkable, and a testimony to possibilities in a border-less world.

According to GWI, there are 10.5 million Gen Z’s in South Africa, making up 35% of the country’s population. We’re inspired by so many talented, innovative, South African creatives, many of whom are making their mark on the local and international stage, using software and technology to tell their stories, and produce commissions for some of Africa, and the world’s biggest brands like, Russell Abrahams aka Yay Abe, Karabo Poppy Moletsane, Mbhali Manzini, Tanika Cronje, and Kgabo Mametja among so many others.

While many artists may have learned their craft traditionally, for Gen Z creatives, their ability to expand their creative skill sets by incorporating technology, and redefining their approaches and forms of expression, while answering creative demands across different industries is truly inspiring.

At HP we’re focused on equipping creators with the tools they need to capture, create, and share their visions in innovative ways. We encourage you to explore and support the creatives, artists, and content creators in your country, and beyond, and so they are empowered to keep sharing their visions and stories with the world.

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