Changes in Creative Industry Due to the Global Pandemic

Do you remember all of the prediction articles about major design and project management trends for 2020? Something far more trendy appeared – Coronavirus. There is no doubt that COVID-19 influenced nearly every industry you could imagine. The design and marketing industries are not an exception. How will it change them?

Frankly, there is no united answer about what exactly will happen or what shifts will occur after everything is over. Instead of writing an opinion piece on this topic, which would be quite subjective, I decided to ask fellow creatives about their current reality and viewpoints. 

The main 3 questions were:

  • How do you think, in which way the design and marketing industries will change due to the pandemic? 
  • Has your workflow changed? If so, how?
  • Will the design and marketing industries be in demand like it was before?

The main reason for doing this survey is to show experience and thoughts from within. To keep it as diverse as possible, I have reached out to people from various spheres of design, starting from digital and product design and ending with creative managers and fine artists. I hope it will be helpful for you to see how other people are doing and inspire you to keep going!

Also, our online collaboration software Approval Studio is free for NGOs and Medical Companies. This is the way our team can help to spread the message about COVID-19 and ease the pain of work remotely during the quarantine. Please, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions. We will gladly answer all of them.

Without further ado, let’s see what creatives have to say!

Dan Hogman – Architect, Artist

Dan Hogman’s Website and Instagram 

The pandemic has affected us all. When it comes to architecture, there are two parts to it – design and construction. The design process has to adapt to the architects working remotely. While most of the construction sites are on hold, the design continues, with teams working remotely and sharing information via various cloud platforms. This includes the BIM model which is hosted in the cloud and the technology has been around for a few years. The second part – activity at construction, is out of our control in most part, but we see some activity continuing with the social distancing rules in place.

Part of what I do is teach. Nothing replaces the in-person “show and tell” when it comes to doing a drawing demonstration, but with the help of technology, Zoom calls, and cameras, we can point to the drafting table while drawing, and the students do their best to follow along. When it comes to drawings, having a real-life subject in front of me was critical. We are using reference images as the starting point for drawing, with students joining the class via Zoom calls. I am glad to see that the students are receptive.

Pako CampoContemporary Fine Artist 

Pako Campo’s Website and Youtube

At the moment I’m focused on my work as a fine artist, and my main activity is the exhibition of my artworks at art fairs and international exhibitions. Of course, all the activity in this area has been abruptly stopped. In fact, my exhibition at Artexpo New York, should have closed today, and other future exhibitions have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed. It will be difficult to recover in the near future all the investments I have made in these new exhibitions. Other projects I had on fashion design and textiles have been postponed indefinitely. And other graphic art clients have suspended most of their activities, so the impact has been humongous.

Acrylic Painting by Pako Campo
Acrylic Painting by Pako Campo

During this time, I have participated in initiatives such as online exhibitions, but it is something that doesn’t make sense for many people since there are platforms like Instagram that are, in fact, a virtual exhibition. It is difficult to catch people’s attention. Furthermore, in times of economic uncertainty, art collectors and investors usually stop investments until the market and stocks stabilize. I believe that the world of cultural events will be affected for a long time, in addition to the fact that the return to normality should be gradual, and massive events with tens of thousands of people cannot be repeated soon.

On the other hand, there’s a mental block many of us are suffering from that doesn’t allow us to create. Indeed, we can now use our time to make plans, write ideas, and dream, but often, many artists are inspired by meeting people or visiting places. Art arises from our deepest feelings and it’s difficult to ignore the empathy we feel with members of our community who are suffering directly or indirectly.

In any case, difficult times require tough measures. And for that, it is essential to be creative. Realistic, but creative. But what luck! We dedicate our lives to the creative world. This time we don’t need a paper or a canvas, let’s be creative with practical life. I have used this sentence for a long time: “Art doesn’t follow the water stream, but fights against it.” Now it makes more sense than ever.

Dane Labelle – Graphic Designer, Art Director

Dane Labelle’s Website and Behance

 Book Design by Dane Labelle
Book Design by Dane Labelle

To answer your questions I think many companies will be more receptive to letting their employees work remotely as this global pandemic has proven it can be done. I would hope in the future there is more flexibility for employees. 

I also believe design is more important now than ever in spreading correct information that can save lives. Infographic signs and social media posts about social distancing have played a huge role in Toronto in helping to flatten the curve.

Alexis Tapia – Graphic Designer, Illustrator

Alexis Tapia’s Behance and Instagram 

3D Character Design by Alexis Tapia
3D Character Design by Alexis Tapia

I know this will be over, so I see a good opportunity, in my case, to finish all the personal projects I have, share more time with my wife, collaborate with other creatives. A lot of possibilities came with this quarantine. As an independent artist, my workflow has changed, but some projects with clients are in Stand-by, it’s understandable for the situation we live in. 

About the creative industry – it will change, to be more flexible with the time of the employees. The less possible is that unnecessary meetings will be reduced. Well, I don’t know, but the only thing I’m totally sure of is that this industry is not gonna be the same (in a good way).

Nikki Starrett – Social Enterprise Owner

Nikki Starrett’s LinkedIn and Website

The world has dramatically changed as businesses are forced to prioritize needs and cut costs. Moving forward the freelance world is going to see an increase as employers settle into managing a remote workforce. We should also see a rise in conscious consumers who don’t want so much packaging with their online orders. I hope that local manufacturing and sourcing will become more valued in an attempt to avoid product lockout at borders.

Amanda Lenko – Graphic Designer, Artist

Amanda Lenko’s Website and Behance

The first thing I’ve noticed easily is that all ads are the same – they all show empty offices/modes of transportation, stadiums, cities, lonely people looking out their windows. They’re stressing that they have always been there for you, and family and friends are the most important things through these challenging uncertain times. Marketing teams are conforming a little too much. 

Clothing Design by Amanda Lenko
Clothing Design by Amanda Lenko 

My workflow slowed down at the start of the pandemic because of my two main clients. One specifically deals with event marketing websites (all the events have been cancelled), and the other is in real estate. Both clients are getting ready for when things open up again. Moreover, I gained a new client, doing packaging design for organic outdoor bug spray. This client knows that people are itching to get out and his sales will increase exponentially. The design and marketing industry is readapting and reassessing what’s important. The near future is unpredictable, but we are all planning and anticipating growth.  

I run a clothing line that’s all designed and made in Canada. People are supporting local artists more, and feeling more connected within their communities that way. The pandemic has encouraged people to look around and see what’s right in front of them rather than resorting to overseas, which I’ve always been a firm believer of. In just 3 days of getting my latest batch, I sold 40% of my new batch of sweaters and t-shirts. I’ve also noticed online shopping go up, and wonder how this will influence brick and mortar stores when things open up again.  

Mauricio Sanin – Product and Furniture Designer

Mauricio Sanin’s Website and Instagram

I think the design industry will be affected by two different perspectives. Number one is that there’s going to be less money to invest in multiple projects and products. Number two is regarding the type of products people would need. I think we as designers should start thinking about products related to these new lifestyle dynamics that COVID-19 situation established. 

Lamp Design by Mauricio Sanin
Lamp Design by Mauricio Sanin

How will people clean their hands right after closing their front door? Should there be any special furniture piece to organize our shoes when we get home? Is it possible to have a good looking hand sanitizer dispenser that combines with my actual furniture at home? There are a lot of questions and situations we should start thinking about to keep doing our work.

If we are able to do so, we will work together with marketing companies to show people that there are new objects that can make their “new pandemic dynamics” more playful, good looking, well-thought, aesthetic, etc.

Leslie Araiza – Marketing Project Manager

Leslie Araiza’s LinkedIn

As a result of the Pandemic, both marketers and designers have a big task: to innovate more than ever. Digitalization is not an option anymore, it is essential. We are about to experience exponential and mandatory growth in E-commerce, in my opinion. Brands need to serve more than ever and deliver quality content, not just regarding their products but truly accompanying the consumer during tough times.

I think the design and marketing industry will be as relevant as before, but it will be more challenging. We are about to face a big economic crisis, so from now on, we need to deliver a responsible and consistent message, reinforce our EXTRA value, and be aware that the industry as we knew it, is gone.

Erdir Oh – Game and Character Designer

Erdir Oh’s Dribble and his Creative Studio “Erdwen” Website

I must say that nothing was noticeable at first. No significant changes or restrictions. Everything went well. The ongoing projects have been completed and long-term cooperation is still working. However, only now, from time to time, I notice minor but crucial changes in the client’s view of the creative industry. Of course, people help each other in difficult times, so it’s no wonder that in their free time they sew a veiled mask as a scarce commodity for people who were unlucky and did not get the veil at all. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that. If you have the time, the energy, the money, and you can afford it in general, it’s a perfect idea. We need to help each other, but only if the same thing does not get us into an uncomfortable situation. This is a possible center of controversy.

Character Design by Erdir Oh
Character Design by Erdir Oh 

More and more I meet people who would like something for free or as a charity project. In my email box, I’ve already received a few requests for unpaid work, which in its final form would do advertising, chase people, and live its own life. This means that contracting authorities would have a guaranteed profit for the project. Why should we as creatives be disadvantaged and create things just because it’s expected of us? Just because creatives are behind big campaigns that move the world. Unlike the client, as a creative, I spend time on a given project (in this undesirable situation), it costs me the effort to create a concept, the overall solution of the project, and subsequent implementation.

The answers of the contracting authorities to the question “Why is the project not rewarded?” will come with a simple but surprising answer: Coronavirus is raging in the world and we have to help each other. Cohesion is expected of me as a creator, but few people realize that this craft is my daily bread, my livelihood. Just as I’ll save failing businesses from a relentless fate for free, no one will lend me this helping hand. I think that the current pandemic is a test of perseverance and a real zeal for all creatives.

Special question for creative individuals – Can we withstand this onslaught? A free project or a disappearing client? It’s up to us how we communicate our cooperation. I believe that the solution will be on the side of the compromise. So let’s say good luck to everyone within these hard days!

Pedro HenriqueGraphic and Web Designer

Pedro Henrique’s Behance and Instagram

Personal Brand Design by Pedro Henrique
Personal Brand Design by Pedro Henrique

During the quarantine, I was able to focus on my work as a designer. Before that, I worked in a company also as a designer, but without being able to develop my own ideas.

This is a moment that designers should focus on studies, to improve their skills and knowledge. In my opinion after the pandemic, marketing and design will be extremely important tools for the resumption of sales, and consequently of the country’s economy. I think this will be “great” for us who work with creativity.

Elia Colombo – Visual Artist

Elia Colombo’s Website and Instagram 

Illustration by Elia Colombo
Illustration by Elia Colombo

I think (but to be honest it’s something I hope) that the design and marketing industries’ principles are soon to be overpassed. There was kind of a trend in the air before the pandemic already. I’m talking about the growth of self-awareness in individuals, which will make the whole “marketing system” look obsolete (no more mental control). The pandemic could ease this transition. Of course, my workflow has also changed. It dropped down to zero! Well, almost zero. I hope that big agencies/studios dictatorship will end soon and the market will finally privilege real creators instead of old school soldiers.

Dmitry KalabinGraphic Designer, Illustrator

Dmitry Kalabin’s Project Kit8

I can’t really say if pandemic already had an impact on us. We have pretty diverse income sources and all of them look unstable, as usual, but they still exist!

Moises Hansen – Industrial Designer

Moises Hansen’s Behance and his Creative Studio “Valkiria” Behance

Product Design by Moises Hansen
Product Design by Moises Hansen

Design is about solving problems and we are living in a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). So there will be demands for sure. However, it is very likely that solutions will be more complex, as they will be centered on society and the common good.

Carol T. MoreGraphic Designer, Blogger

Carol T. More’s Blog “Follow the Colours

The period of quarantine brought us several reflections: about the value of time, of doing things at home, of valuing the work of close people (local consumption). It is time to also think about quality over quantity, being over having, time over money, health over wealth. 

The current situation makes me believe that the brands should be even more transparent from now on, more welcoming, and the design should awaken something more in people and not just be for the sake of being. My workflow has changed. I lost clients while decreasing some value to continue working with others. On the other hand, some demands increased when we talk about web and/or content.

I don’t think things will ever be the same again. Those who do not keep up for sure will be left behind. I think about different scenarios for the future and I always study trends, and the only thing I’m sure of is this: you have to adapt. The virus has changed different sectors of our lives and also us in various ways. With the lockdown, we’ve had amazing examples of creatives that are flourishing and I believe this is just the beginning – of a new start that we will have soon.

Elisabetta Vedovato – Graphic Designer, Illustrator

Elisabetta Vedovato’s Website and Behance 

Illustration by Elisabetta Vedovato
Illustration by Elisabetta Vedovato

Obviously, everything will change. I think everything will be more thought-provocative, reflective. We have been injured and we want to medicate ourselves, really carefully. We have to see the positive side: it will be a new beginning! Let’s take it as a new possibility, if not a restart from scratch, a way to improve with the opportunity to do a “reset”. 

Design and creativity are demonstrated, even in these times, as the “lifeblood” that can give strength and positivity to the world. I personally understood this power even more: design combines with stories can become a vivid suggestion, a positive message, and vibe. So yes, design and marketing industries will be necessary, with maybe more demands. More people are now aware of them being a fundamental gear of the great machine that will be able to save the world.

Final thoughts 

I would like to thank all these amazing humans who took time out of their day to write their views on industry change and share their experiences. As you can see there are so many facets of this situation, various opinions and diverse experiences. 

All in all, this questionnaire shows how differently coronavirus has affected everyone: for some, it is just a change in their workflow, for others, it is more substantial than that. But the one thing is certain – these harsh times won’t go unnoticed and will definitely trigger some shifts. 

What are your thoughts on the future of the design industry? Leave the comment down below to share your thoughts.

It goes without saying that if you are a member of the NGO or the Medical Company, you can contact us to get a free license of our remote artwork approval software for the time of quarantine. 

Stay safe and keep creating! 

Mary Cobe

Mary Cobe

Mary Cobe is a girl with a graphic tablet and a new member of the Approval Studio team. Illustration and design have always been her passion and now she is eager to share her extensive knowledge about the creative industry. She considers black and white colour palette her best friend and enjoys splendid visuals more than a good cup of coffee.
Mary Cobe

Mary Cobe

Mary Cobe is a girl with a graphic tablet and a new member of the Approval Studio team. Illustration and design have always been her passion and now she is eager to share her extensive knowledge about the creative industry. She considers black and white colour palette her best friend and enjoys splendid visuals more than a good cup of coffee.

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