Leading designers, illustrators and creative directors tell us what from the world around us is going to have the biggest impact on their work in 2014.

Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What we create is directed by influences both conscious – client demands, our skills and persuasions, the tech and materials we have access to – and subconscious: from the subtle impact of world and sporting events to design trends from fashion to architecture.

Some influencers are obvious: the Rio 2014 World Cup, that more people are accessing the web on mobile devices (and from within social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter) – but from the answers below we also see a serious interest in mediums whose success isn’t so certain, including 3D printing and wearable tech such as smartwatches.

What will have the great impact on your work in 2014? Let us know in the comments below.

What will be the biggest external influences on your work/practice in 2014?

"Probably my clients! Joking aside, we take influence from a wide variety of sources as we believe this makes us better as a business as a whole.

One continuous source of influence for us is of course new technology, which will continue next year, we're all really interested to see what we can do with the Myo from a creative point of view."
Alan Parker, MD, Lowe Epic

"Mobile has been an important influence for a number of years, and I don't see this abating any time soon. However, as mobile usage starts to meet (or in some cases take over from) desktop usage, website and web apps will start to look and behave increasingly like their native counterparts. "
Andy Budd, partner, Clearleft

"My biggest influences are the bravery of people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning in empowering us with knowledge and the influence of great designers who empower us with tools that make our everyday lives easier, less painful, and maybe even delightful.

"Now all we need to do is combine those two things and we can truly change the world by making things that deeply empower us."
Aral Balkan, user experience designer and founder, Indie

"Popular culture, always. I can only hope that the work we create somehow influences popular culture!"
Chad Hutson, executive producer, Leviathan

"Following creative individuals and companies is always inspiring. Newcomers can be a great influence with fresh ideas and unique ways of working. Pieces playing at the forefront of technology are also compelling.  

 "Art galleries, music events and design conferences/talks are an increasingly good source to get the creative juices flowing."
Dave Haupt, creative director, MPC's Motion Design Studio

"Brands becoming media houses, following the likes of Red Bull and MLB."
Ian Wharton, creative director, AKQA

"I’m moving to Birmingham. Leaving 14 years of London-life where I’ve worked hard establishing my creative network, to Birmingham, where I know absolutely nobody, will prove to be the biggest challenge. It’ll be interesting to see how the shift in location will influence my work, with whom I’ll be working with (baring in mind my collaborators are already all over the world) and what types of new clients I will work with too!

"I have some decisions to make, naturally. Do I grow? Do I go back to permanent employment? What has Brum got to offer? Answers on a postcard please.”
Jenny Theolin, director, Soapbox & Sons

"Being left alone to get on with the things I want to do. I'm constantly being distracted by other things; jobs, adventures, people, places, dinner time, shiny objects."
Jon Burgerman, illustrator and food enthusiast

"Technological advances are an obvious factor, but the more important influences will come from the laws and legislations over how we use the technology and how data is captured and tracked.

"I will also be looking for influence from the cultural perceptions – from the audience’s perspective – around how we use data and how we use 'smart' technology. This will give a steer on how these trends and technical capabilities, which are constantly moving, will intersect and present new opportunities for unimagined products and services."
Oli Shaw, service design lead, Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive

"The World Cup in Brazil, changes in social media consumption and the [growing] use of video."
Rebecca Swift, head of creative planning, iStock

“Fast moving trends in the fashion world tend to influence the relatively slower paced world of technology. For example there's been a lot of colour in fashion, which has influenced a lot of colourful smartphones and operating systems.

"So to see what's next, even beyond 2014, we might want to be taking a closer look at the runway."
Shaun Tollerton, visual designer, ustwo

"The clients. It's very easy to find yourself wanging on about Pantones and pixel pushing but it's the people paying you to do it who need to be remembered. The relationship a design practice has with its clients is not only a business advantage for the brands they are serving but directly pushes the work in certain directions.

"The most important thing it to ensure those relationships are strong and can survive unfiltered debate about what makes for the best solution or you risk sliding into a smile and nod culture where the work suffers and the clients walk."
Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

"I have to treat being an illustrator like a 9-5 job now, which means less time to procrastinate and making the most of the eight hours I have away from home. This has also allowed me to actually take on a couple studio assistants who hopefully in time will help my business grow. ."
Stanley Chow, illustrator

"Hopefully the people I collaborate with."
Steven Bonner, designer

"As much as I want to ignore it all, the work and success of others. Next year is going to be very different for me. I'm now the sole owner of my company (Mat Dolphin) and I want to take back control of the company’s direction. At the moment I feel completely in the hands of whoever commissions me."  
Tom Actman, founder & creative director, Mat Dolphin

Read on to discover what skills leading creatives will be learning in 2014 >>>