2014 creative trends: leading creatives’ hopes and fears for the year ahead

It’s that time of year when everyone starts thinking about 2014 will offer – and every news source from the Daily Mail to Pigeon Fancier’s Monthly asks prominent people in their field to tell them about what’s to come (more things to be irrationally afraid of and pimped up racing tails respectively, apparently). Every ‘creative’ site does the same – so this year we've decided to do something different.

Rather than asking for thoughtful-but-dry analysis of what they believe will happen across the whole industry, we decided instead to get a bit more personal. We asked them what they hope will happen – and what they fear might – as from this we can discern the issues that will really care about in 2014: what we should be striving for and what we should be fighting against.

In keeping with our mission on Digital Arts, we’ve included the opinions of creatives from across the spectrum of advertising, branding, illustration, graphic, interactive and motion design and VFX. You would have thought that this would lead to a disparate set of answers – and some are – but there are some clear themes running through these answers.

Creatives want the chance to do something new and amazing – and need clients who will let them take the risks to achieve this. We want to be respected for the skills we have and not to be pigeonholed based on an outmoded idea that we’re just an offshoot of marketing – in a digital era we should be as involved in brand as much as branding, helping guide each company’s values, practises and even product and service development.

And we want respect in its most basic form – to be paid what we’re owed in timely fashion and not to have the work and approaches we’ve spent so long developing stolen from us by those unwilling to pay what it’s worth.

As part of our look into what will matter to creatives in 2014, we’ve also asked them how their own practice will change over the next year, and what they find exciting about the coming year – and so as not to make this a novel-length read we’re going to be publishing their answers to these over the coming days.

NB: In your area of creativity and business, what changes would you like to see happen in 2014?

"I'd like to see more risk takers. While there's some great digital work out there, I don't think we're seeing enough truly great ideas get through and this is really down to getting key decision makers to take a risk.

"If you think about the amount of clutter on the web that a brand has to compete with at any given moment, we're not going to get noticed with mediocre ideas. We need big ideas and that means we have to get better at embracing risk. 'That calls for a Carlsberg' and 'Volvo Trucks - Hamster' are what we need to see more of."
Alan Parker, MD, Lowe Epic

"In the area of business, we'd love to see more design-literate CEOs who really understand the business value of design and are willing to invest accordingly. So it's the realisation that some of the most important business problems are human problems rather than technical ones, and it's in this areas that design excels.

"With regards to creativity in the user-experience field, I think our industry often plays it too safe. So in 2014 I'd like to see agencies experiment with different ways of working and be willing to take bigger leaps of faith without the safety net of user research."
Andy Budd, partner, Clearleft

"I would like to see greater awareness of the corporate surveillance state that companies like Google and Facebook have facilitated as well as greater efforts on behalf of the community to create alternatives to their closed silos. There are already very promising efforts on various fronts, including excellent work to build new infrastructure, protocols, and processes by the Indie Web community, efforts to Redecentralize the Internet, and, of course, my own efforts to bring design thinking to open source.

"The goal is to create experience-driven open technologies that can compete on user experience with the likes of Apple and Google while empowering regular people to own their own tools, services, and data. As part of these efforts, my startup, Indie, is building a phone, Indie Phone — with a beautiful open operating system (Indie OS) and core services (Indie Cloud) to enable everyone to own their own data without requiring any technical expertise."
Aral Balkan, user experience designer and founder, Indie

"Creativity will always continue to change. God help us if it doesn't. So more of the same, please. On the business side, it's been frustrating to see so many large corporations flex their muscle and lengthen payment terms. It's beginning to border on insulting, but perhaps it's just the future way of doing business – no matter what industry you're in."
Chad Hutson, executive producer, Leviathan

"There seems to be a slow and steady influx of facilities setting up in the South West of UK – it’s a great place to be! And with this comes ample opportunity for collaboration in the film and advertising arenas.

"It’s really important to find time to experiment and make mistakes – that’s precious time that gets lost under the pressures of deadlines. Some hack time would be invaluable.

"I’d also like to see growth in the UK animated feature film market, with a rise in the lower-end budgets for making and funding them. We need more fresh, original and cheaper-to-achieve ideas and concepts to balance the stream of blockbuster remakes and reboots."
Darren Dubicki, director/designer, Aardman Animations

"More than ever, we are experiencing closer collaboration with our clients and are involved from concept through to delivery. The traditional view of the post house ‘coming in at the end’ is now outdated. Involving us from the beginning can improve and enhance the final look and workflow.

"We have also seen clients being braver and striving for more dynamic solutions. I would like to see the growth of these practices continue across the board in 2014."
Dave Haupt, creative director, MPC's Motion Design Studio

"Agencies and brands remembering their purpose: create meaningful ideas to share that are worthy for the investment of people's time."
Ian Wharton, creative director, AKQA

"Clients becoming bigger risk-takers and more trusting: I want to stay ahead of the curve, so I need a client-base who truly believes in doing that with me – jumping with two feet first.”

"I would also like to see even more collaboration and co-working over traditional silos and hierarchy between agencies. We’re all striving for the same thing – originality. We might as well partner up to have more fun with it, instead of trying to out-do each other."
Jenny Theolin, director, Soapbox & Sons

"I'd like to see clients not try and take as long as possible to pay freelancers in the hope that the freelancers might forget to pester them for their payment. The long, drawn out cat-and-mouse game of trying to be paid promptly is ever-tiresome.

"Creativity is not really the issue: it's the business."
Jon Burgerman, illustrator and food enthusiast

"I'm excited to see how we can continue creating more personalised experiences through living services, and how audiences engage with all the 'smart' products within their daily lives. As designers we need to look at the 'relationship design' of these complex, often invisible, systems, so we can adapt our approach from screens and UI to shaping the intangible aspects, which need to be designed in a living service.

"I'd like to see a greater focus on the life factors that effect the audience’s relationship with products and services. This will become increasingly important with more connected and data-driven services, which continue to bridge the digital and physical. A key factor in understanding these motivations is to stop considering the audience by demographic segmentation and look at the clusters, which span across traditional segmentation."
Oli Shaw, service design lead, Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive

"Less reliance on post-production technology and a return to 'in camera’ excellence."
Rebecca Swift, head of creative planning, iStock

“'I firmly believe that art and design will transform our economy in the 21st century the way that science and technology did in the last century,' said John Maeda.

“Design – not just as an aesthetic but as a way of thinking – needs to be at the core of the way businesses operate. You only have to look at companies such as Tesla, Airbnb and Nest to see why.
Shaun Tollerton, visual designer, ustwo

"Greater collaboration. I'm fresh back from my first trip to China – and in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, I met with dozens of people who want to discover the 'secret' to creating great commercial solutions to complex business problems through design thinking.

"The secret is simple (and not even a secret) – Richard Rogers said in his recent Royal Academy show that 'buildings are too complex and too important to be created by one person' – the same for brands. They need smart collaborative approaches to get the richest, most exciting and effective results."
Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

"I’m lucky enough to be asked to do a lot pitch work for various advertising, branding, marketing agencies. A lot of the pitch work is done for free: Sometimes you are given no choice but to do for it free, in the hope you may land that big jackpot commission.

"I feel some agencies should pay at least nominal fee for pitch work, but they take advantage of the fact that some of us may be desperate enough to do the work for free… at the end of the day it’s work, and us illustrators should be to be treated as professionals."
Stanley Chow, illustrator

"I'd like to see more variety – and I include myself in that. This year there's been way too many people doing more or less the same thing, but with varying degrees of quality. I know there are always trends but I've felt a little stifled by clients asking for very similar work and while I don't want to leave my current work behind, I would like to diversify more.

"I'd like to see more use being made of new technologies and more tactile work. Making things rather than drawing all the time."
Steven Bonner, designer

"2013 has seen some huge changes in legislation with regards to digital copyright, with new legislation passed back at the beginning of the year over the use and licensing of ‘orphan works’. Whilst it angered a lot of creatives and added a few more shades of grey to confusing laws surrounding digital content, the fact that our legal system is now at least talking about digital copyright law is a big step forward.

"I’d like 2014 to bring further discussion about protection of intellectual property stored online, with particular consideration to the creative industries."
Tigz Rice, photographer, Tigz Rice Studios

"Me backing away from the industry. I'm getting to the point where I'm less interested in industry news, and more focused on doing good work for good people, and developing as a designer."  
Tom Actman, founder & creative director, Mat Dolphin

Read on to discover what leading creatives fear might happen in 2014 >>>

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