John Howkins is an analyst and author whose books describe major changes in the way we think and work. The common theme is creativity and innovation. His book The Creative Economy is the standard text on creative industries. His most recent book Invisible Work throws new insights on the creative process, including working from home and AI.

John is an entrepreneur and was co-founder and chair of several startups. He is a visiting professor at two universities.

‘We no longer have the certainty of being told exactly what to do. We have to rely more on our own resources and make our own decisions. We have to take charge of our work’s invisibility. Work is becoming more personal, private, subjective, nomadic and never-ending. It is moving from observable public spheres into the private and unseen.’

From the author of The Creative Economy comes a new book on an emerging new phenomenon in the radically changing world of work.

It is based on deeply focused, value-added thinking, framing and sharing. It mixes creativity and collaboration. It  is the essence of all work, whether part of a job or not, whether self-employed or a manager.

It is also the answer to the question of how we thrive in the AI era and work with – rather than be replaced by – AI.

John Howkins lays out a visionary framework for the future of work. He focuses on the ways in which we think most innovatively, how we best share our private ideas, how we make unseen connections and how we stake out our domain.

Challenging people’s ambitions
Changing people’s lives
New ways of working
New business models

The classic book on the creative economy, first published in 2001 and updated in 2007 and 2013. It defines, describes and provides a practical guide to success in creativity and to the creative industries. It covers the nature of creativity, business models, intellectual property, managing a creative company, the core sectors, creative capital and more. 

A provocative mix of art, creativity, business and environmental biology. It applies our latest understanding of ecologies to show the conditions for fruitful collaboration and creativity and collaboration. It asks, Where and how do we think best? The answer is Change, Diversity, Learning and Adaptation, known as the QUAD. 


John Howkins is a leading strategist on creativity and innovation.  He first published his ideas in The Creative Economy in 2001 which became the standard book (revised in 2013). He developed his ideas in Creative Ecologies: Where Thinking is a Proper Job (2006). His book Invisible Work (2020) shows how private personal work is the key to the future including our relationship with AI.

He has worked in over 30 countries. In 2019 he spoke at events in London, Geneva, Madrid, Kiev, Los Angeles, Bogota, Medellin, Santiago, Manila, Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

His ideas are based on his business career in publishing, TV, film, digital media and streaming.  He was associated with HBO and Time Warner from 1982 to 1996 with responsibilities for TV and broadcast businesses in Europe. He is a former Chairman of CREATEC, Tornado and BOP Consulting, and a board member of Equator Films, HandMade plc, HotBed Media, Screen East, First Person Films and other companies.

He is a Member of the United Nations Advisory Committee on the Creative Economy. He has been Chairman of the London Film School, Deputy Chairman of the British Screen Advisory Council (BSAC) and Council Member of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). He was Executive Director of the International Institute of Communications (IIC).

He was Executive in Residence at the Drucker School of Management, Claremont, Los Angeles, Visiting Professor, City University, London, and Vice Dean and Visiting Professor, Shanghai School of Creativity, Shanghai Theatre Academy, China.

He founded and directed the RSA Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property. 

He worked as a journalist for many years on Time Out, The Sunday Times, Harpers & Queen and The Economist.  He was editor of InterMedia, Vision and The National Electronics Review.

He has a BA in International Relations (Keele University) and a AA (Dip) and MA in Urban Design (Architectural Association).


John Howkins is a well-known figure in the dramatic growth of China’s creative economy and visits China frequently to meet with entrepreneurs and government and hold workshops.

The Shanghai Government and the Shanghai School of Creativity set up the John Howkins Research Centre on the Creative Economy in 2006. He is now based at CrecoLab in Beijing.

John is a shareholder in the Shanghai Creative Industry Industry Cluster Corporation, Chairman of the Anren World Cities Cultural Centre and adviser to many companies. 

“John Howkins is a renowned British economist and father of the creative industry.”
CCTV, Beijing


John is available for talks, workshops and projects. If you want to contact us, please write to john@johnhowkins.com

If you want information on us in China, please contact Chen Xu, China Manager,
at xu.chen@creativeeconomy.com