IDG World Expo and TrendWatch Graphic Arts on Thursday released the results of their Spring 2003 study of the creative markets. The study proclaims that the "graphics communication markets are poised for a renaissance." The results of the study were culled together from surveys sent to graphic designers, ad agencies, corporate design departments and commercial photographers. According to the firms, business conditions in these markets are finally on an upward swing, with software and hardware investment remaining high. Sixteen per cent of those firms polled qualified business during the previous 12 months as "excellent," up from 13 per cent polled six months earlier. 68 per cent of publishing firms called business during the preceding 12 months "generally good," up from 62 per cent six months earlier. Fifty seven per cent of design and production firms plan to invest in new workstations, and 63 per cent of publishers plan to buy new desktop publishing software applications; 56 per cent of them want to buy new workstations; and 50 per cent of them plan to get new desktop manipulation software. Sixty six per cent of those Internet design and development firms polled plan to buy new Web page software and 65 per cent of them plan to get new workstations. According to the survey, 53 per cent of such organizations will be buying PC iron. Although the market shows signs of improvement, 79 per cent of design and production firms still cite "economic conditions" as their biggest challenge going forward, closely mirrored by 79 per cent of those publishers polled. Sixty six percent of Internet design and development firms also cite challenging economic conditions. Most of those companies polled feel that conditions can't get any worse, at least -- 91 per cent of publishers, 79 per cent of design and production businesses and 86 percent of Internet design firms say that business will either stay the same or improve over the next 12 months. Trendwatch Graphics Arts director Vincent Naselli said that the biggest trend in the creative market is cross media development -- the creation of content for multiple formats, like print, Web, e-mail and wireless. The past two years have witnessed a "sea change" in the way people interact with media. "Developing an ad campaign, or marketing materials, or what have you, is now a strategic process that involves not only making crucial decisions about what is the most appropriate media for a particular project, but how to actually go ahead and make it happen," said Naselli. "What's interesting is that parts of the market are changing faster than the tools available -- and vice versa! The need for cross-media development is one of the key drivers of not only software investment but also platform choice," said Naselli.