20 leading creatives reveal this year's key skills, styles and trends

What changes would you like to see happen in 2015 and what would you be disappointed by?

Jing Zhang
“I would like to see more attention paid to the creative ideas, the story. I’d be disappointed by too much focus on technology and forgetting about the creative process or the story. The techniques might be important, but it shouldn’t outshine the idea. I would like to see the back of flat design, minimalism, neutral colour scheme in web design… and GIFs.” Jing Zhang, illustrator

Frode Skaren“More collaboration and collective intelligence please! In great time of change, it would be [disappointing to see] people reverting to what they already do and know. ” David Erixon,  founder of Hyper Island and D&AD trustee

Frode Skaren“Personally, I hope to spend more time on each project in 2015. Usually I have a week deadline for an illustration, and sometimes less! I would like to have more time working out the idea as well as working on the details. And hopefully that will reflect in the quality of my work.” Frode Skaren, illustrator

David Luepschen“I am always open for changes and new opportunities – but at the moment there is nothing particular I would like to change. A few weeks ago I just moved into a new studio which is a big change for me and an exciting start into the new year. I try not to worry too much about the future – I see a change as a chance.” David Luepschen, director, illustrator and animator

Dean Johnson“Greater opportunities for younger audiences to take part in the design process. It isn’t about hands-on design or development, more to tap into the enthusiasm on offer from ‘kids of all ages’ and an unwillingness to accept compromises or restrictive barriers. I’d also like to see Apple Watch faces open to developers within the WatchKit SDK. THE most creative canvas of 2015.

“I’d hate to see the continuing increase in screen sizes and fragmentation. I still want something the size of an iPhone 5 that folds to the size of an iPad Mini, not three separate devices. We’re still moving further from this rather than closer and I want convergence, not more pocket-fillers. 

“2014 has furnished us with a raft of wearable tech, much like 2010 was the year of the tablet, and we really don’t need most of it. Smart watches with poor battery life, and even poorer design. Single purpose activity monitors. Devices that just make us look stupid. Many to be consigned to the gadget graveyard, or our desk drawers.” Dean Johnson, SVP of Creative Innovation, Brandwidth

Janine Rewell“Usually, the process for illustrators is the following: advertising agencies develop the concept and idea, maybe even do sketching and once the client has bought and approved the idea they contact the illustrator. I would like to see illustrators being part of the original ideas process – because we know our style better than anyone else and we know the possibilities/limitations. We would, for sure, come up with fresh angles. Too many times I’ve been commissioned to illustrate something that the ad agency has seen examples of in my portfolio, instead of thinking what we could do that’s new.

“In 2014 I've concentrated quite a lot on my own illustration projects exploring new mediums. Next year I hope to see the fruits grow so that I could widen my client base in those areas. Clients are still commissioning illustrators for traditional illustration mediums and even though the digital world is expanding all the time, I would like to see more use of physical media.” Janine Rewell, illustrator

Janine Rewell“In commercial production, I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years that pushes towards live action comedy – but almost to the point of absurdity. I can appreciate this style when it is appropriate for the brand and product, but it seems like it has jumped the shark. Now, I find myself watching commercials scratching my head, wondering why people are taking it so far for no apparent reason other than to be ridiculous.

"I am hoping the trend has run its course – and it seems like it has, based on the enquiries we are starting to get. There is still a push for comedy (as there always will be), but it’s starting to become infused with graphics... using typography and illustration to help carry the story.

"This is exactly where I hope things go in 2015. Comedy is not necessarily a strong point for most design companies who are more about the aesthetics and flashy movement, so I feel like this gives us a little bit of an edge. We are into articulating the concept with our graphics… and we have a love and talent for comedy.

"I will be disappointed if budgets continue to decline for work that has a high production value. Almost daily we get a call describing a job to us that has live action, design, CG and VFX in it. We get the rundown on the commercial to find out it’s pre-roll and the budget is not doable. Just because the spot airs online, doesn’t make it any easier to produce." Erin Sarofsky, president, owner and executive creative director, Sarofsky (creators of the film titles for Guardian's of the Galaxy)

Chuck Anderson“Something I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about lately is the need to evolve creatively. The struggle is that I, and many others, have built a very solid reputation around a strong style; which is great, but usually leads to getting hired for the same thing time after time. 2014 was really a big year for me in terms of rediscovering my love of photography, something I put a lot of time and energy into on a personal level throughout and is just beginning to pay off in terms of clients actually asking for that. 

“My hope is that more artists and designers open themselves to change, exploration of other artistic mediums, and make sure to give themselves a chance to thrive in areas they’re not currently experts in. That’s how we grow and, in turn, affect the work we put into the world. A few other changes I’d love to see: fewer design contests, more designers empowering their businesses via finding project managers or doing whatever they need to get more money for their work, and the death of spec work.” Chuck Anderson, artist and designer

Matt Booth“With the culmination of turning 40 in August and the 20th anniversary of working in the creative industry in December, 2014 was meant to be a big year of change, where I move away from my main area of business – web design related projects – and concentrate on my personal graphic projects. However, with all the best plans, work got in the way of me taking step.

“So my plans for 2015 are the same as 2014, carry on pushing my personal work, move into new and traditional technologies, make real things, collaborate, move into the music and fashion worlds and see what happens.” Matt H Booth, designer and who-knows-what in 2015

“[I hope] we win the rebrand of Greggs. I’d love to do that. Also more rants. It’s useful to clear the air and be more progressive.

“[I'd be disappointed if,] as budgets increase, ambition sinks. Next year should be a stonker for the creative community. If those commissioning it really trust those doing i..” Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

“[During the past year, we’ve seen an incredible rise in interest around immersive new media installations within the advertising space, which resulted in a flood of new, highly creative projects for our studio. Some of these new projects were for first time clients bravely experimenting along with us. I’d like to see more opportunities like this in 2015, but beyond the experimentation phase with some very committed clients, so we can keeping pushing the boundaries of new media beyond what we know.” Jason White, executive creative director, Leviathan

Radim Malinic“I would like to see designers and agencies engaging more with people who need ‘creative’ help. The current approach to work and clients can appear more like glory hunting rather than putting the cause or client first. I would like to see creativity used as a tool to help others.”
Radim Malinic, art director, illustrator and graphic designer

Thiago Maia“I feel we need more creative tools to help us to run a business in a more creative way. I would love to see more apps and software to help us do this. I also want to see more collaborative projects. 2014 was a good year and it would be great to see more in 2015.”
Thiago Maia, co-founder and director, Cookie Studio

Neil Stevens“I would love to see more forward thinking. In illustration and in design there is still a lot of emphasis on nostalgia, vintage and the retro. I'm as guilty as the next man in being heavily influenced by the past so from a personal and general perspective it would be great to see more barriers broken. Things never seen before. Creatives taking risks. Actually I bet many creatives love to take risks but maybe at the cost of attracting clients. So in fact it would be good to see clients taking risks and trying new ideas. Don't get me wrong though, there are a handful of great vintage type designers, and illustrators who excel at the vintage style, but a lot of it can get copied, watered down until it is nothing new or interesting at all.” Neil Stevens, illustrator

Adam Jenns“I’d like to see clients take more risk with the work they commission. 2014 has been the year where clients have really started to explore interesting content as a marketing tool but there's a long way to go. A piece of content we have recently finished for Harrods has been used as a cinema ad, on its in-store network, on outdoor digital posters, across all of its social media channels, on its iPhone and iPad app and as press adverts in magazines like Tatler and Vanity Fair. It was a brave commission and it worked out very well for the store.

“In 2015 we could do with clients being more realistic with budgets and timelines. Huge competition has meant that clients are in a position to expect excellence for pretty small budgets. The best talent quite rightly command big salaries and while these and kit/software prices continue to rise, budget continue to fall. I hope this trend doesn't continue.” Adam Jenns, owner and MD, Mainframe

Paul Boyham“I’d like tablets and phones to be considered separately when planning app development. Too many apps are released universally, without consideration for how people use these devices. Most people have their phone with them at all times, then use a tablet when in the office or relaxing at home. These contexts should be considered when developing apps for these devices – don’t include a step counter on a iPad app and don’t build an app which includes masses of information for the user to analyse on an iPhone app.”

I’d like to see the back of tiny screens in 2015. While the iPhone 6 Plus might be a little bit too big, the iPhone 5 and 6 screens sizes are a pleasure to work with. However, having to cater for the iPhone 4 screen causes design headaches and compromises. Only a small percentage of active users are still operating an iPhone 4, so hopefully this will decrease further in the coming year.” Paul Boyham, client services director, Apposing

Emily Alston“I would like clients to take more risks, so there is more opportunity to be as creative as possible. I think as online content is becoming increasingly important to brands and companies, this value should be reflected in fees too.” Emily Alston, graphic artist

“[I want] more love for hard-working photographers. We are so used to photography that sometimes we forget the amount of preparation and effort that goes into what on the surface seems like a simple shoot. [I'd hate to see] cheap or free winning over crafted and appropriately priced.” Rebecca Swift, director of creative planning, iStock

Tim Smith“We do a lot of user interface design, and have strong teams in place for each project or product, much like the UI design industry in general. Within a team you’ll traditionally have each core discipline represented. You’ll have a visual designer such as myself creating the interface, user experience designers working on the user journey and flow and there’ll be a developer building the product. I’d like to see that segmentation blurred somewhat and more hybrid designers; individuals who cross disciplines, be it a visual designer with user experience skills or UX designers with development skills. There has been an emergence of software and applications recently that are making that easier and easier.

“On a design level, we’re seeing some new ways of thinking in design that are pioneered by the likes of Apple with their iOS7 and 8/Yosemite patterns and Google with their Material Design. These are big steps in attempting to lay down some foundation for an otherwise somewhat anarchic landscape of UI design. I’d like to see more meaningful thinking like those exemplars in digital design.” Tim Smith, lead designer, ustwo

Amy Harris“It would be great to see illustration and visual communication being used in new contexts, and for these disciplines to continue to develop and be valued.” Amy Harris, illustrator and set designer

Mike Sullivan“More Collaboration. We need to start working better as teams – brought together to answer briefs. I'm fortunate enough to work collaboratively with a number of individuals, both in the UK and internationally. What I find is that smaller teams can really push the brief. From experience, clients are engaging with this method of working and that can only improve the design output. The rise of collectives and assembled creative teams will answer the need to connect and collaborate across all design disciplines.

“I’d be disappointed to see over reliance in and on software. Many years ago whilst at university I wrote my dissertation on the effect software has on design output. If you knew the software you could 'output' better results. I see this everywhere. Web templates, mobile templates and online design tools and so on. Everything is starting to look the same. Software is dictating output. This has to change. The amount of start up websites that I see that are identical is shocking – just a logo change. Big screen, blurred background, centred text. It says nothing about the company or idea – just follows a trend.” Mike Sullivan, Mister

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