WeTransfer Asked 10,128 People Where Their Ideas Come From. Here's What They Said

Company releases its Ideas Report 2018

One of the great (but also frustrating) things about covering the field of creativity is that you'll never really find the answer to the key question: Where do great ideas come from? 

At its core, it's a mystery. All you can really do is provide the context for where, when and why great ideas happened, in hopes of approximating the how. It's also helpful to ask as many people as possible about their own process—to learn the particulars of their inputs and try to see how it relates to their outputs. 

WeTransfer has done just that for its Ideas Report 2018. The file-sharing company, which has become obsessed with exploring and celebrating creativity in recent years, asked 10,128 of its users in 143 countries about where their ideas come from. And while the collective answers might not be revolutionary, they might inspire you to emphasize different inputs in your own process. 

Among the findings that WeTransfer presents: 

• Overwhelmingly, creatives said they were more likely to get ideas from real-life experiences like talking with friends, travel, nature, books, magazines and going to galleries. Creative blogs and social media (especially Twitter and Facebook) scored less well, suggesting we need to build better online spaces for idea generation.

• The most productive 'eureka!' spot was surprisingly everyday. The most popular answer, at 47%, was that the best ideas come when people are at their desk, in their studio, or at work. Commuting came second, followed by in bed, the bathroom (nice) and exercise.

• Despite the digital revolution, pen and paper remain the king and queen of note-taking. 40% of people said this is how they prefer to record their ideas – more than double the number who said they take notes on a computer (19%) and, to our surprise, on their phone (17%). But many embrace the power of the mind – 24% of people said they keep their ideas in their heads.

• Brazil's cultural diversity, youthful population, and innovative heritage make it a creative powerhouse. When it came to inspiration, publications and films scored very highly, reflecting strong local traditions in both. But when it came to getting ideas flowing, 8% of their creatives told us drugs helped (against a 3% average) suggesting a free-spirited creative scene.

See the whole report here, which was made with creative development by agency. TCO London. 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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