Peter York On Ads: You're a click away from being the new Testino

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The Independent Online

I'm just mad about creativity. Can't get enough of it. Did you know we're the most creative nation in the world? Oh, easily. Walk around Big London and there's creativity winking at you from every doorway. Creative types, creative occupations, creative initiatives. And creative government, of course; this is a very creatively oriented government, a graphic design, modern sort of government. A government that's that bit Richard Rogers.

But creativity isn't just a workout for bien pensant people: it's business. The Government says so all the time. The creative industries - most gorgeous of the new Nineties coinages - make lots of money for Britain.

More money, so some proselytisers say, than anything else going. They think we shouldn't really fret about, say, what happened to Marconi or the British motor industry. That's yesterday's news. Let's get behind James Blunt, let's cheer on Ron Arad and the Frieze Art Fair. They'll see us through.

There's a certain amount of academic support for all this luvvie-on-steroids stuff (it enrages Tory fogeys - who particularly hate the language - and the hard leftists equally, so it must have something going for it). The man who really made the argument best was the wonderfully named Richard Florida, professor in the School of Public Policy at the George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (sic).

Florida said the creative industries were the motor of modern economies, and creative people the regenerators of regions. It was social engineering as horticulture. If you seeded your declining district heavily with artists, wannabe TV production companies and Channel 4 comedy writers, then morale and house prices would perk up, there'd be fewer attention-deficit kids in the schools and everything would be buzzing and vibrant.

And gay. Florida's recipe for creative regeneration seemed to include a fair sprinkling of gays. This wasn't precisely what he'd said, but it was how the first edition was read. Anyway, it got the book enormous publicity in America and a fair bit of uptake among New Society wonks here. It's pretty certain that TB's favourite big thinker, the equally marvellously named Lord Adonis of Camden Town, has read it too.

Advertising is the original creative industry, of course. We know this because, for unthinkable decades, the people who dreamed up the ideas - once called funny demarcation-dispute things like copywriters and visualisers - have actually been called creatives. They said it first. You might think saying "I'm a creative" was on a par with claiming to read auras or contact the dead, but you may just have been terribly wrong, Lord Snooty. Go with the flow, get with the programme. Release your creativity, get in touch with that side of your nature.

If creativity is good for you, as good as Jamie Oliver school food, then everyone should have some. Polls show that practically every young person in the country wants either to work in a creative business or - the Vicky Pollard vote - be expressed and vindicated as a celebrity. Which means teaching creativity young. The progressive education movement may have been right.

But while you're waiting for your area, your job and your kids to come right, go out and take photographs. Just do it. That's the theme of the new Canon commercial. Not the next David Bailey, but you, every kind of you, pouring out into the street to take tremendously interesting photographs. The clock ticks up to the hour and it's everybody out of that back-office in Slough or Pitcairn, New Jersey, looking for things that look lovely framed up in a white cubey space - meaning things they've seen photographed already. Paper blowing across arty streets, frogs, dry swimming pools, old people's craggy faces, empty country roads, the lot. Get out there, run after it, bend down to it, see the beauty in the everyday. Imagine yourself the central character in a life-affirming drama about a terribly plain, borderline underclass young person with a passion for photography, played by Scarlett Johansson or Josh Hartnett. Your work is seen and endorsed by Mario Testino; it's shown at Hamiltons Gallery and bought by Nick Rhodes. That's what happens when you get a Canon E0S 350D. Very Richard Florida, very Andrew Adonis.

Peter@sru.co.uk

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