WeTransfer asked 10,000 people from 135 countries how 2021 transformed their creative worlds. In their biggest report to date, they gathered perspectives from filmmakers, designers, musical artists, photographers, tech gods, marketing gurus, and PR whizzs (sidenote, designers were the most responsive... there's a joke about responsive design here but I can't quite reach it). Perhaps unsurprisingly, 78% of respondents said that their working environment has changed.

The report concludes a shift in creative power. But who’s coming out on top, and who’s being left in the dust?

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It seems that when times get tricky, creative people find even more ways to knuckle down. The change in working environment brought new ideas for 45% of the respondents, and almost half of those who took the survey said they feel more confident with their ideas now, despite the negative impacts of the pandemic.

Creators are doing what they can, and taking inspiration from friends and family, while allowing work to be less of a distraction. The report doesn't detail whether this reduced distraction was due to people not finding any work... but it does cover some other not-so-hot realisations from the past year.

The bad news: Following an unprecedented year, creatives who are considering switching jobs are 36% more likely to feel financially restricted, 32% more likely to feel a work-life imbalance, and 50% less likely to feel connected to their peers. 

If you are a creative of colour it only gets worse with almost 50% feeling less financially stable since the pandemic, 15% above the average.

But while creativity is supposedly dying in the West, creatives from Mexico, Brazil and Colombia are flourishing, being 12% more likely to take risks than their Western counterparts, 11% more confident in their ideas, and 11% more optimistic about their careers. 

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It’s a tough gig for the under 25s who report feeling undervalued, underpaid and overworked, with 60% thinking of switching jobs in the next six months. Whilst not short of creative potential, issues that are blocking Gen Z’s creativity include mental health (50%), isolation (40%) and financial concerns (39%). 

“Stories of ill treatment are far too commonplace among Gen Z creatives,” says journalist Moya Lothian-Mclean, “Who often feel pushed into having to decide between advancing in their chosen industry and valuing their mental wellbeing - and worth.”

However, unsurprisingly it is those most affected who are the ones pushing for change. The report finds 42% of women care about aligning their personal values with work and 40% of nonbinary people, compared to only 33% of men. Environmental issues came out top (62%), with sustainability (59%), gender and racial equality (45%), and humanitarian issues (44%) not far behind. 

As journalist and broadcaster Pandora Sykes comments, “... when your work aligns with your moral compass, when your professional life feels like an extension of your own personal ethics, you’re so much more able to claim it. To stand by it, defend it, inhabit it.”

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In the case of creative vs client, creativity is taking a backseat in favour of honest communication. Almost a third of clients feel less connected to the people they work with which, when they are the ones paying your bills, becomes a problem. By ditching the ego and showing mutual respect there is no reason why it can’t be happy families. 

And now onto the one you’ve all been waiting for, The Great Resignation. Pretty much every industry is going through it and the creative workforce is no exception. The report finds a staggering 45% of global creatives are thinking of changing their jobs in the next six months. Not great, huh?

So what can we do about it? Creatives want to be doing meaningful work and be rewarded for it. 55% report being motivated by feeling appreciated and valued, 49% are motivated by seeing their visions realised, 43% by doing something good for the world, 41% by maintaining work/life balance, and 37% by being compensated fairly. 

Doesn’t seem like too much to ask. 

Read the full 2021 WeTransfer Ideas Report report here.