WeTransfer Asked 20,000 Creatives How they Ideate. Here's What They Said

Insight from the annual Ideas Report

Last month, WeTransfer released its second annual Ideas Report, surveying nearly 20,000 creatives (19,936, to be precise!) on where their creativity comes from (...apart from the last D&AD annual. Just kidding! Or are we?).

The creatives, hailing from the world over, were asked seven questions: 

• How many of your ideas do you end up using? 
• How do you figure out if an idea is worth pursuing? 
• What do you ask yourself when thinking about bringing an idea to life? 
• What distracts you from coming up with creative ideas? 
• How many chances do you give an idea you love? 
• How well do you get paid? 
• How do you feel about your own creativity? 

Below are highlights. But don't take our word for it. Check it out for yourself. It's crammed with goodies. 

About 33 percent of respondents can't imagine their lives without a creative outlet. Given that they're all creative professionals, it's telling that 42 percent say their biggest distraction from ideation is … wait for it! Work. 

Open workspaces and useless meetings are cited as impediments to deep focus, which perhaps is why so many people are embracing mindfulness.

Originality or relevance? 52 percent of respondents feel the former is the biggest criteria for a good idea; 40 percent think it's the latter. 

At 27 percent, "Will it make the world better?" is the biggest consideration for whether to actualize an idea … but barely more than "Can I make money with it?", which clocked in at 26 percent. 

To complement the data, WeTransfer featured insights from other creative professionals, like Roxane Gay and John Legend. Like everyone we know, Roxane Gay struggles with social media use, and John Legend feels love should precede money in terms of priority. 

Lastly, we're treated to more generalized statistics based on the countries, ages and professional categories of respondents. 

This stuff is more insight than pure reporting on responses, and that's where things get interesting: Mental health concerns, for example, peak between 18-25. And we finally get some degree of illumination around why "Can I make money with it?" and "Will it make the world better?" are damn near tied in terms of whether an idea's worth making real: Freelancers prioritize the money matter 1 percent more, at 31 percent, versus 30 percent for world-saving ... which should shock no one who's ever been a freelancer.

Meanwhile, younger creatives are more likely to follow gut urges. 42 percent of those under 18 use this intestinal metric to decide whether or not an idea's worth pursuing. That figure drops to 26 percent for those 23-35, but rises again!—to 30 percent, for those 36-45. 

"With age comes caution," WeTransfer tsks, but we find hope in that last number. Maybe, past the young-adult bump, we realize how much of life is just chaos anyway. The gut's no worse a metric than anything else.

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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