WeTransfer’s Third Annual Ideas Report Shows the Surprising Perseverance of 35,000 Creatives

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WeTransfer’s largest survey on creativity to date shows how people found new ways to create, connect, and stay inspired in a tumultuous year

AMSTERDAM — December 3, 2020 — WeTransfer, the company that makes tools to move ideas, today presents its third annual Ideas Report, a global survey of people who identify as creatives about how they generate and develop ideas. This year, WeTransfer surveyed an astounding 35,000 people in 183 countries about how the pandemic and subsequent lockdown has affected their work, ideation, confidence, and self-doubt. In addition, WeTransfer released an interactive game, and a video series featuring five well-known creatives unpacking the overarching theme of the report — how times of doubt and uncertainty can be a catalyst for change. 

Events stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have upended the creative industry—in fact, 78% of respondents to the Ideas Report say they have experienced a change in their work environment due to the pandemic. However, responses to the survey overwhelmingly revealed that artists and creatives are finding opportunity in uncertainty; new ways to connect, create, and stay inspired in a year defined by rapid change. 

WeTransfer’s video series features talks on navigating doubt from creative powerhouses Alice Aedy (documentary photographer), Antwaun Sargent (art critic), Ben Hammersley (journalist and futurist; coined the term “podcast”), Holley M. Kholi-Murchison (multimedia storyteller), and Natasha Jen (designer and partner, Pentagram), who share their five-word mantras for navigating this difficult year. 

Highlights from the 2020 Ideas Report include:

  • When the going gets tough, the tough get creative: 45% of people have more creative ideas due to the changes in their working environments. Almost a third of people feel more creative than usual, and a fifth are more inspired, posing the question: Does creativity thrive outside of our comfort zones, or is it an effective coping mechanism when times get tough? 
  • Creativity has curiously thrived in isolation and uncertainty: When asked to describe 2020, it shouldn't come as a surprise that most responses were overwhelmingly negative. Yet when we look at the wider data, it seems creatives are underestimating their ability to adapt.  Almost half of respondents have more confidence in their ideas, 35% feel more grateful than usual, while 20% feel excited, efficient and connected. It seems there’s a cognitive dissonance between what we think we need, and what we actually need, to (creatively) thrive.
  • We’re less distracted by work: In 2018, 41% said work pressures get in the way of having good ideas. In 2019, 42% of people placed work as their #1 distraction. In 2020, work has plummeted from the top spot; distracting only 25% of respondents as people prioritize family, friends, and health more than in previous years. Half of respondents are spending more time on life away from the screen, e.g. cooking more, spending more time in nature, and taking time to learn new skills.
  • Women are struggling with doubt: Existing research has established that women are bearing the brunt of 2020 the most — and this translates to confidence in their ideas. When getting started on a new idea, almost half of women (42%) question if they have the skills to execute. Only 29% of men ask themselves the same question.
  • Inspiration is changing, and it’s coming from within: In 2018, ‘real-life’ experiences, e.g. museums, nature and travel, were the biggest source of inspiration. While the physical world is more removed than ever, the same idea continues to be true. Almost half (49%) of respondents say family and friends are their biggest source of inspiration this year, while 40% of people have been turning to nature to nurture their ideas. What’s more, when WeTransfer asked people what or who they’ve found exceptionally inspiring in 2020 the words “me,” “myself,” and “I” led the way.

“Remarkable things happen in times of struggle and uncertainty,” said Holly Fraser, Editor-in-Chief of WePresent, WeTransfer’s editorial platform. “While the global crisis has led to economic, health, and social suffering, it has also created an unprecedented opportunity to examine our resilience and adaptability. We’re uncovering fascinating insights that have important implications for how to approach creative thinking, as it relates to both the work environment and personal passions.”

In addition to these insights, WeTransfer created and released a fun, interactive game that reveals the color of your aura in 2020 and a key insight to take into the next year. Users simply find five moments of reflection then answer a few prompts to see how their year compares to the thousands of creatives surveyed. For the creative development of the online experience, WeTransfer teamed up with Amsterdam-based creative studio Cartelle.

For more information on the Ideas Report please visit WeTransfer Ideas Report 2020.

Assets

Go to LINK to access the online version of the WeTransfer Ideas Report

Go to LINK to view the media kit and download assets

Go to LINK to download the PDF of the results

Methodology

Survey insights were collected by WeTransfer from July 12 to August 31, 2020 among 34,851 people of all ages who work in creative industries in 183 countries/regions.

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