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New study of professional creatives reveals decline in creativity

iStock's 'Free the Creative' study finds that half of creatives believe creativity is stagnating or declining in their profession

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Professional creatives are struggling to produce creative and effective campaigns in an increasingly stressful work environment, according to a new survey released today from iStock by Getty Images during Advertising Week 2013 in New York City. One in two (48 percent) creatives believes levels of creativity in their industry have stagnated or declined in the last decade and nearly one quarter (23 percent) of creatives spend less than two hours of their day doing 'creative' work, according to the study's findings.  

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iStock, the web's original resource for crowd-sourced royalty-free stock images, media and design elements, commissioned KRC Research to conduct its first ever 'Free the Creative' survey of more than 400 creative industry professionals – ranging from art directors to graphic designers in the US and UK – about the state of creativity in their profession.

The research revealed that lack of inspiration, funding and time are the three main barriers to creativity in a creative's job:  

  • The majority (60 percent) of creatives said that they have had "great ideas" in the last year but not enough time or support at work to achieve what they wanted.
  • Nearly three quarters (70 percent) of respondents said they want more "creative time" and 63 percent said they do not have the time they need for "creative reflection and inspiration".

The link between time and creativity has been well researched in academia: one of the largest studies, Creativity Under The Gun by Teresa Amabile, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, found that people were least creative when they were fighting the clock – and that when people are working under great pressure, their creativity reduces not only on that day but the next two as well.

"Our research raises questions around the state of creativity today in industries vital to the global economy," said Ellen Desmarais, general manager at iStock. "When you consider that global revenues last year in the advertising industry alone were nearly half a trillion dollars*, declining creativity is cause for alarm and should prompt an industry-wide discussion. The bottom line – we need to free the creative."

Desmarais added, "While the creative industry has always been dynamic and fast-paced, rising pressures from increasing workloads, ever-tighter deadlines and constrained budgets are wearing creatives down. iStock aims to act as a creative partner, making it easier for creatives to find what they're looking for: unique, inspired content at the right price."

Other key findings:

  • Creativity rarely happens in the workplace: Only one in three (34 percent) rate the workplace as one of their top three locations for creativity. During the commute (34 percent), in the shower or bath (25 percent) or during exercise (22 percent) are other favored places and times for inspiration.
  • Technology offers an opportunity to unlock creativity: Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of creatives believe that new tools and technologies have enabled them to be more creative in the workplace.
  • Creatives seek artistic opportunities outside of work: Half of those surveyed are photographers in their spare time, while nearly a third (30 percent) looks to writing, drawing or painting as a creative outlet.

Find more on the Free the Creative study and view our infographic here.

* According to MAGNA Global Advertising Forecast 2013:

About the Study: Free the Creative is an online survey conducted by KRC Research in August 2013 among 404 Creatives, half in the US and half in the UK. For this study, "Creatives" were defined as people, age 18 to 64 who work in design or the visual arts, production and direction, photography, publishing, and advertising and/or marketing.

About KRC Research
KRC Research is a full-service research firm that specializes in the kind of research needed for effective communications—communications that reach, engage and persuade. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, KRC Research has worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with market research professionals from the worlds of political campaigns, consumer marketing, journalism and academia, we are flexible, practical, creative, knowledgeable and fast, combining sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. For more information, visit

About iStock by Getty Images
iStock by Getty Images is the web's original resource for crowd sourced royalty-free stock images, media and design elements, offering millions of hand-picked photos, illustrations, videos and audio tracks. A site "by creatives, for creatives," iStock started in 2000 as the pioneer micropayment photography site, freeing creatives everywhere to create beautiful communications on a budget. The site has become one of the most successful and profitable user-generated content sites in the world. iStock is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Getty Images.

CONTACT: Colleen McCabe, 646-613-3814, [email protected]

SOURCE iStock by Getty Images

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