The Year in Creativity, 2019

100 top creative leaders on their favorite work of the year, and where we're headed next

To close out 2019, Muse asked 100 top creative leaders to give us their thoughts on the state of creativity—to tell us their favorite work of the year, trends they find exciting, and predictions for 2020.

You can download the full report at this link.

We're also publishing the report as a series of five Muse articles throughout this week. Click through to those stories below:

The Year in Creativity, Part 1
The Year in Creativity, Part 2
The Year in Creativity, Part 3
The Year in Creativity, Part 4
The Year in Creativity, Part 5

These days, each year feels like 10, and so it was with 2019. But as ever, the best creativity has a galvanizing effect—bringing energy, and sometimes even hope, to what’s often an exhausting and gloomy time. 

The changes in the ad business over the past decade-plus have themselves been wearying. The proliferation of channels, the fragmenting of audiences, the rise of ad avoidance, the sudden overwhelming primacy of data—it’s all left creatives frequently bewildered at what felt like their own shrinking relevance. But 2019, in some ways, brought a return to old thinking—with new tools. 

Big ideas, craft and storytelling are back, but they’re arriving in ever more inventive forms. And in a world still seemingly in freefall, creatives rediscovered humor, playfulness, even joy—retreating somewhat from the earnestness of the previous few years. Some of the best work this year was weird, mischievous and just plain fun. A good way to take creativity seriously is not to take it too seriously at all. 

The daunting challenge of creativity unbound also felt more like a blessing than a curse this year. Freed from the confines of typical ad units, some of the best ideas were let loose in the world, where they were embraced instead of avoided. And the often baffling convergence of creative worlds—music, entertainment, sports, gaming—gave rise to wonderful collaborations across industries, rich in concept and execution. 

Not coincidentally, clients are starting to realize anew the value of long-term brand building over short-term performance. Hand in hand with that, they’re more inclined to find real purpose within their DNA instead of paying lip service to causes. Unignorable ideas feel more rooted in something real. Actions, not words, are ascendant. And some intractable problems—in business and culture—feel slightly more within our grasp. 

I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the Year in Creativity report for sharing their perspectives, and for leading the way with work that’s beautiful, thought-provoking, brand-building and helps makes sense of an ever more confusing world.

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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