Illustrations by
Benedikt Luft
Motion design by
Dian Jiao
Date
4 January 2021
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Forward Thinking: What 2021 looks like for the creative community

In a brand new editorial series, we take stock of the year that was and look ahead to 2021, exploring how creatives around the world hope to fulfil its potential.

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Illustrations by
Benedikt Luft
Motion design by
Dian Jiao
Date
4 January 2021

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Google Design is proud to support It’s Nice That’s Forward Thinking campaign. Google Design produces original articles and videos, hosts events, and champions creative and educational partnerships — with the goal of supporting and inspiring the UX community. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to learn more.

If last year taught us anything, it was to expect the unexpected. That’s why we know better than to try to predict the year ahead, but facing a fresh start and a rebuilding of daily life, there are so many opportunities for creative people to help make this next era better for everyone. Having seen the world upturned and watched the creative community come out in droves to support each other and drive change, we can’t help but feel (cautiously) optimistic and excited for the potential of 2021. That’s why we’ve launched Forward Thinking, a new editorial series that takes stock of the learnings from the past and explores how creatives around the world plan to tackle the future.

This week we’ve launched five features dissecting this huge topic in various ways, from the state of creatives’ mental health to a briefing on how to rethink public and private spaces post-Covid, as well as a survey of the ways in which creatives internationally are viewing their work and process differently after the harsh learning curve of last year.

Berlin-based writer Kati Krause, once an editor for Anxy Magazine, has interviewed creatives in the US and Europe to assess how last year affected their mental health, and what learnings they’re taking through to this year. Of course it’s a spectrum of emotion that we all slide around on, but it’s still cathartic to hear people share their deeply personal experiences, and how a severe shake-up of normality has provoked some to reassess their approach to creative work.

Meanwhile, London-based writer Diyora Shadijanova has penned an acerbic opinion piece simply titled How Not to Go Back to Normal, unpicking society’s desire to return to what was, when in fact “normal” wasn’t working for large swathes of society. Looking at the traumas of 2020 and how the creative world reacted, she spurs us to use our collective anger and power to continue the progress we began to make.

We also hear from around 15 leading creatives across illustration, film, advertising, photography and more, in three features inviting their opinions on the year to come. In Stop, Start, Continue, the likes of Stephanie Unger and Jeff Low tell us their work resolutions for 2021, which range from the life-affirming to the brilliantly silly. In Extracurricular Activities, Ronan McKenzie and the Apartamento founders, among others, share their lockdown projects and how they’ve blossomed into fully fledged businesses, even influencing their ‘day jobs’. And in Five Spaces to Rethink Post-Covid, Marina Willer, Bas Van De Poel and more annotate stock images of the most mundane spaces – an office, a gallery, a public square – reimagining the environments of our new reality.

Overall, from putting this series together, we’ve found that while last year was extremely difficult for most, the creative industry has by and large responded by adapting and finding inspiration in amidst the challenges. In this series we hope to share that positivity, bolster our great community and give that momentum a healthy shove into 2021.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

After five years as It’s Nice That’s news editor, Jenny became online editor in June 2021, now overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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