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October 7, 2011
Why the Creative Class is Especially Sad.
 
It’s not too much of a statement to call Steve Jobs the father of the modern creative class.
 
The first thing I ever wanted to be was an illustrator and the first place I ever really practiced that craft was on my Apple IIc. This was in the early ’80s, and despite the fact that my mother owned a small ad agency at the time, it wasn’t clear to me that Illustrator was a conceivable profession. I attempted to find a more practical application of my creative desires — architect. But from this, too, I was dissuaded — “many architects simply spend their careers creating plumbing diagrams for office buildings,” I recall being told. So I aimed for Doctor — surely this was unassailable! And off I went to Trinity College. With my Macintosh.
 
There, in my freshman year, I got my first email address and downloaded the Mosaic browser and learned what a hyperlink was and went for the first time to the many strange and beautiful destinations it could take me. There on the Internet and on my Mac I opened my consciousness to an entire world of media being made and people making it.
 
I began recalling more frequently the many preteen hours I’d spent with MacPaint and Print Shop. Sunday dawns filled with the incessant screeeeeeeech and whir, screeeeeech and whir of a dot matrix printer howling out a 14 foot banner: Happy Mother’s Day! Maybe there was an Illustrator still in me.
 
But by this time I was a writer. The die had been cast. I edited the Opinion section of The Trinity Tripod with Jamie Evans. In addition to writing and editing, we also had to lay out the section each Tuesday night before the printer pick-up on Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. This was where I learned desktop publishing, in Quark and Photoshop, on top-of-the-line Macs.
 
Using those wonderful computers made this task fun. I could move pictures — and type! Oh, those are called Drop Quotes! And slowly, as I completed all of the Pre-Med class requirements and contemplated taking the MCAT, I realized I didn’t need to take the MCAT, or become a doctor. I realized that being a creative professional was not just a possibility, but that it was happening — people just a few years ahead of me were graduating and doing just that! And I could too!
 
And if this feeling was strong enough to penetrate the thoroughly pre-Med, pre-Law, and pre-Corporate ramparts of Trinity College, I knew it was real. And all of these realizations happened face to face with and largely because of the power of Apple computers. My entire career has followed. And I am not alone. 
 
Some version of this story can surely be told by every one of my colleagues. We are not masters of the universe, we are pious citizens of the creative class. We are aesthetes and nitpickers, masochists and technophiles, organizers and disorganizers, pixel-pushers and stubborn brats, nerds and artists, oversharers and brilliant hermits, scientists and authors, gamblers and brigands, drawers and dreamers. 
 
We are different.
 
We are different because of Steve Jobs.

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Dave Skaff is the Creative Director at The Science Project. He developed The Webby Awards and its judging body, The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, through their first five years. He moved on to agency ATTIK, visual effects firm Radium, and launched the New York office of Digital Kitchen. He has produced digital, experiential and broadcast work for Nike, HBO, GMC, Scion and countless global brands. Find Dave on Twitter at @daveskaff.
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