A temperature check at the end of 2022
- Written by
- If You Could Jobs
To celebrate another year of the If You Could Journal, we reached out to a selection of inspiring creative industry voices to ask them what’s been exciting them, what they’ve found challenging, and what changes they’d like to see in 2023. Read on below to hear their reflections and predictions.
We asked our creative industry peers what they were most excited about right now. Their answers included travelling post-Covid, holding studios accountable to good working practices, a deeper commitment to ethics in design, raw and honest creativity, the hybrid future for remote workers, and a growing awareness of the importance of the creative industries in the public consciousness. Find out more below.
Sam Hornsby, Co-Founder of ERIC, told us she was excited about the growing awareness for the creative industries in general. She explained, “Many people have historically confused the arts for the creative industries, when in actual fact the arts are a sub-sector. I am excited about the growing realisation that the creative industries are bigger than many people outside of the creative world thought — and I feel like people are beginning to understand how much they contribute to the economy and how much they underpin every other industry out there. I'm excited that the creative industries are beginning to get the credit they deserve!”
James Greenfield, CEO of Koto, is excited about travelling again. He told us, “Going to places beyond my loft due to Covid has relit my curiosity for the world and everything that people make every day. Walking down unfamiliar streets and in nature is inspiring and makes me feel optimistic about the future in a way the screen never can.”
Katie Cadwell, freelance Design Director and Founder of The NDA Podcast is feeling excited about the generations below that are entering the industry. She notes that “They're interested in projects that don't harm our world, working for clients that respect the impact of their business and the power of creativity. They're also holding studios accountable to good working practices — not just accepting toxic legacies that have always been around. Essentially it's a wave of change, for the better, and I hope everyone steps aside to let them lead.”
Adrian Shaughnessy, Co-Founder of Unit Editions, admitted he was excited by much of what he saw in the creative world — and specifically in the sphere of graphic design. “But,” he added, “it’s also true to say that I see plenty of work that depresses me. A short trip on the London Underground reveals the most dismal and formulaic visual design imaginable. It’s advertising, I suppose – an activity that feels increasingly creatively bankrupt – but it’s startlingly unimaginative visual design. The stuff that excites me is the huge aesthetic explosion that has taken place in graphic design in recent years, alongside an equally impressive move towards making the discipline more socially and ethically aware. It’s graphic design from all over the world that delights the eye. And it’s graphic design that engages with the huge political and cultural issues that confront us – if I was a Daily Mail journalist I’d call it ‘woke graphic design.’”
Justyna Green, On Design podcast creator and host, told us she’s excited about “work that’s raw, doesn’t beat around the bush, and whether it educates or entertains us, does it honestly and does it well.” She’s also excited about the femtech industry being more prominent in design. “I’m most excited about what’s to come though, about creatives turning their lenses to issues that matter to them the most.”
Jesslyn Guntur, Founder of Gubns, said she was most excited by “the prospect of various creative industries merging and overlapping with each other, such as architecture with crafting or the built environment with the metaverse, to name a few. I'm also excited about our hybrid future as new opportunities open up for remote workers.”
Nikky Lyle, Founder of Nikky Lyle Creative and Graphic Design Jobs UK, believes that every time there’s struggle, eventually we see innovation. “Challenging times show us all that the current system isn’t working and that’s when you see solutions challenging the status quo. So I’m looking forward to seeing some of those new ideas.”
We asked our creative industry peers to name the biggest challenges and barriers they face in their working worlds today. Their responses ranged from struggles with funding and communication to uncertainty around the rise of AI, and from the limitations of steps towards greater diversity to the oversaturation of social media content. Here are some more.
Sam Hornsby believes that on a macro scale, messaging is the biggest challenge to the creative industries. She explains: “Our poor messaging has led to consistent undervaluing and underfunding from our government. The creative industries have never been universally defined and therefore remain an abstract concept to many people outside of the sector, including the decision-makers in government. We work hard at ERIC to give people a tangible, understandable definition: 16 industries, 2.3 million people working in the sector, 1 million people working in creative roles in non-creative industries. If you give it parameters, people are able to visualise and quantify more easily. We need to work together to get the messaging clear. Once we do that, we will be taken more seriously as a sector.”
Aside from messaging issues, Nikki Lyle pointed out that because of Brexit, “companies are hesitant to invest in UK projects, so that’s slowing everything down — in the creative UK market especially.” Nikki predicts that the next year is going to be “pretty tough and not for the faint hearted.” But she expects that within six months, we should have some clarity on the impact of the recession. “It’s then up to us all to find a way to work our way out of it!”
Katie Cadwell felt that it was still challenging to find truly diverse teams. “Diverse in characteristics, diverse in experience, diverse in opinion, diverse in what trainers they're wearing... The critical eye on our studios these past few years is only being reflected in junior roles or outside the creative teams. I'm not seeing that same diversity in leadership and it's making the work very similar in my opinion. I'm not seeing as many projects that really excite me. We all want to see work that we can't have imagined ourselves – but we can’t because the work is being made by people who look just like us.”
James Greenfield predicted that “We’re going to see a lot of AI outcomes which are going to scare people. For creatives it will bring uncertainty. Are we being replaced? For our clients, they are going to be confused about what should be made by people and what should be made by machines. It’s all fascinating and I am really engaged in what’s happening, but the importance of reality versus perception is vital.”
Adrian Shaughnessy also highlighted the rise of AI as a creative tool, along with the reality of climate change; the dangerous political state of the world; and the unstable nature of the creative life – “especially for young art school graduates who are emerging into a world of increasing precarity”. He wondered, “Will AI mean that clients have the capability to bypass designers and make their own work? Will climate change render parts of the planet uninhabitable? Does the lurch towards authoritarianism mean the loss of freedoms that we enjoy as creative practitioners? And will the soaring cost of a creative education, followed by the prospect of entering a low wage economy, deter people from pursuing a design education?” But despite all these challenges, Shaughnessy describes himself as an optimist: “The creative Iife has always been precarious, and the world has always been a threatening place, but I believe that designers have the mental dynamism to meet these challenges and find new ways of functioning and surviving.”
Justyna Green flagged social media as a complex issue for the creative industry. She explained, “It’s fantastic that creatives can now reach their audiences directly, and that having a large following on social media can create an additional income stream, but there are many challenges too. Time is one, where the creative time is more and more limited as we’re all busy building our social media presence. Another one is how to create authentic, genuine work that’s not limited by the social media algorithms, or our fears about how we’ll be perceived.”
Jesslyn Guntur shared the sentiment: “I would say the over-saturation of content within social media has made it challenging for new brands to distinguish themselves. In the world of re-shares, re-brands and replicas, authenticity is becoming harder and harder to grasp. As creatives, how can we lead our audience to shift mindsets from reactive consumption to proactive intentions and decision-making?”
We asked our peers what changes they hope to see in the creative industries over the next 12 months. They’ve got their sights set on big improvements when it comes to in-person collaboration, valuing creative education, and aesthetic risk taking. And they’re waiting with anticipation to see which companies actually walk the walk when it comes to living their values.
Katie Cadwell believes there's a lot of virtue signalling going on in the industry at the moment. “It's cool to be a B-Corp or to post lofty statuses on LinkedIn about the things we need to change. But I'm not seeing action. As individuals, we can do our part to better the creative industry, but we need to see the big agencies and 'design celebs' kicking off initiatives, creating studio scholarships, discounting enviro-friendly projects... The list goes on. I'm hoping to see more doing and less posting.”
On a similar note, Jesslyn Guntur is hoping that the creative industries continue to question their briefs, intentions and outputs — every single time. She says, “I believe all creatives should be operating with UN Sustainable Development Goals and B Corp values back of mind, always.”
James Greenfield wants people to stop hiding away from each other and communicating only through screens — and instead, get connected. He feels, “There is a mixture of laziness, fear, anxiety and societal reasons at play, but we have to focus on connecting with other people to be creative and not just pedal some taste riffs from behind our warm laptops. Great ideas are more often than not the result of interaction and discussion.”
Sam Hornsby hopes to see more recognition for the value the creative industries bring, as well as more consistent messaging coming out of the field. She cites collaboration as an essential ingredient: “I hope to see different creative industries working together to share best practice and create bigger, better creative industries for the next generation of talent. I want to see more outreach from the creative industries into schools, to help them spread positive and effective careers guidance about creative careers as early as possible!”
Adrian Shaughnessy is keen to see more aesthetic risk taking and social awareness. He explains, “In a way, what is happening today is what many of us have longed for. In the 80s and 90s there was a search for graphic design to become a more aesthetically adventurous and less formulaic activity. And in the 1960s, Ken Garland’s ‘First Things First’ manifesto was a call for designers to behave with a greater sense of design’s social role. Both appeals were confined to the margins of the disciple. But today they are centre stage, and this feels like a great victory. Of course, most graphic design is bloodless and done for nakedly capitalistic reasons. But thanks to a new generation of aesthetically and socially aware designers, that is changing.”
Of course, meaningful change might take longer than 12 months. In the longer term, Justyna Green would like to see “fewer launches for the sake of having something new to show, and businesses spending ££££ on rebrands that seem self-indulgent.”
Here at If You Could we’re looking forward to seeing these changes unfold and we’ll continue to chart the conversation through our editorial content in 2023. Find more insights, opinions and advice here.
Thanks to all of our contributors for their responses
Katie Cadwell is a freelance Design Director and Founder of The NDA Podcast
Justyna Green is creator and host of the podcast On Design
James Greenfield is CEO of Koto
Jesslyn Guntur is Founder of Gubns
Sam Hornsby is Co-Founder of ERIC
Nikky Lyle is Founder of Nikky Lyle Creative and Graphic Design Jobs UK
Adrian Shaughnessy is Co-Founder of Unit Editions
Join the conversation
The If You Could Jobs Journal is a space for the creative community to share their views and opinions into the creative working world. If you're interested in contributing in the future please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively follow and join the conversation on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Discover some of our recent jobs
Video Content Creator
- Remote, London
- Contract Type
- Full Time, Freelance
- £2,000 – £2,400 / Month
- Applications Close
- Contract Type
- Fixed Term
- £50,000 – £62,000
- Applications Close
Motion Designer / Motion Generalist
Connor Campbell Studio
- Contract Type
- Full Time
- £35,000 – £36,000
- Applications Close
Learn more about our featured companies
We're Inktrap, an independent product design and development team based in London. We thrive on solving complex problems in elegant and practical ways.
We understand that people want to be inspired as they seek better and more meaningful lives, so the focus of our work is on building authentic relationships that are propelled by a shared long-term vision.
We’re a specialist UX and UI design agency, working together from all over the globe. We help product teams solve complex problems, breathe new life into existing applications and bring innovative tools to market.