Mid year update: what’s happening in the creative industry?

It’s busy … we’re seeing heaps of activity in our industry. Creatives closing their studio after 20 years to look for new opportunities; solo operators seeking partnerships, and small firms merging with other allied small firms. The catalysts are wide and varied but for many it boils down to the one question: is this as good as it gets?

Most of us crept out of COVID unsure whether it was the end or just another middle. We’re far enough away now to look back, take stock, and contemplate the future. Unfortunately some designers aren’t liking what they see.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

  1. A melancholy or restlessness, and/or boredom with the status quo and a want (or need) to shake things up.
  2. WFH may have peaked. Many designers want out; the comfort and cost savings of working from home are being outweighed by family challenges and frustration from being trapped in the same four walls. Designers are bored with their own company and back looking for cool places to work.
  3. An increase in interest in partnerships – solo’s wanting to work with another to share the load.
  4. An increase in designers closing their (long term) business to pursue new options. A mixture of study, a leap into the corporate world or contemplating a completely new career. You gotta applaud the courage to say ‘time’.
  5. The 4-day week is here to stay, everyone is trying to work more efficiently to protect that extra day. Employees are requesting it as part of their package and it’s not-negotiable. The extra day is committed to a side hustle, to exercise or to caring for another.
  6. PD is on the rise. We know because we’re selling more ebooks, have more people doing in the studio management program than ever before and we’ve had to close enrolments to the Business of Design shortcourse for the next two months. There’s a curiosity to know what more is out there. What don’t I know and what do I need to know to progress? The commonality is the want to learn management and leadership skills.
  7. The design industry is continuing to fracture. Post education-in-lockdown, more graduates are starting their own business than being employed. Graphic designers are re-training as service designers, UI, UX and motion designers. The horizon is littered with specialist micro-businesses and less one-stop-shops.
  8. Wheel-and-spoke, film-crew, Hollywood model, call it what you will, micro businesses are not losing the larger jobs, they’re taking on the mid-sized studios by collaborating as associates on a project-by-project basis.


Don’t be afraid of change.
The design industry is on the move and those stagnating will be overtaken.
It’s a great time to take a step back and contemplate the bigger picture and the good news is, there are heaps of options available.

Want to continue the discussion? Email Carol. Want more info like this? Subscribe below. (And tell your friends 🙂

Carol Mackay

Design Business Council : business advice for creatives.
We help designers build better, stronger, more sustainable, businesses.

Design Business Review is Australia’s only online design management magazine. It’s professional development information written specifically for Australian designers by Australian designers. Best of all, it’s free.

Want more?

A listing our our offerings:

      1. More about our current ebooks
      2. More about the Business of Design shortcourse
      3. More about the Studio Management course
      4. Not sure what to do? Learn more about onlyness in this article, and in this one.

About Carol

After 30+ years running a design studio, I accumulated a pretty special network of fellow designers. One thing most have in common: a need for more information about the ‘business’ side of design. Most are impatient with any task competing for time spent doing what they love – designing so they wanted more info about how to work more efficiently and effectively.

Not me. I love that intersection between design and business. I built a career working with Ombudsman schemes, the Emergency Services sector and the Courts. My special power has always been an ability to use design to translate the difficult to understand or the unpalatable message.

I now use exactly the same skills with creative business owners. I translate the indigestible into bite-sized chunks of information. I share insights, introduce tools and embed processes to help others build confidence business decision-making skills. More confidence makes it easier to grasp opportunities. More confidence makes it easier to recognise a good client from the bad.

Outside DBC I have mentored with Womentor, AGDA and most recently with The Aunties.
And I’m a proud board member of Never Not Creative. Ask me about internships 😉

Always happy to chat, I can be contacted here.

For a short while, an archive of my design work at mbdesign.com.au.
My current work can be viewed at designbusinesscouncil.com and designbusinessschool.com.au.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.