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Editor’s Column

What can we expect in 2005? Most economists are predicting growth in the 3.4-3.6% range for the year, slightly slower than 2004, but still a positive outlook.
After several difficult years, we're starting to see an increase in business for visual communicators. Recent job openings on our Creative Hotlist Web site grew by 80% in 2004. Another unscientific indicator has been the dramatic drop in the number of letters to the editor, confirming my suspicion that people are too busy working to write.

Other more-quantifiable forecasts exist. In its recent "Creative Forecast 2005: The Trendwatch Graphic Arts Perspective on the Challenges and Opportunities For Creative Firms in the Next 12 Months and Beyond," Trendwatch stated that 28% of design and production firms reported that business was excellent, better than the last 12 months, up from 15% just six months earlier. Also, 47% of all design and production survey respondents expect that business in the next 12 months will be excellent, better than the last 12 months, a rise from 35% in 2003.

In a recent study of over 400 design firms by the Association of Professional Design Firms (see the Business column in the November 2004 issue), members expressed increasing optimism as 2004 was generally seen as a year of positive growth.

But, while the business outlook has improved, both reports indicate 2005 will not be without its challenges. According to the APDF study, design firms are facing increasing competition at all levels, which is keeping the price for services low. According to Trendwatch, clients doing their own desktop publishing work is seen as a business challenge for more design and production firms than ever before. And, print and prepress firms who see adding creative and design capabilities as a sales opportunity, are at their highest level ever recorded in the Trendwatch surveys.

According to the Trendwatch report, "Design work can no longer be about simply designing things. Design work is now in large part thinking strategically about all the media options available for a given campaign and deploying them effectively based on the needs of the client, the message of the campaign and the demographics of the target audience. We expect it will be an exciting time of experimentation and innovation that will retain the spirit of—if not the same level of material reward as—the late 1990s."

Green Design
While many companies promote their environmentalism in an effort to improve their corporate image, there are also many companies who have embraced environmentalism as part of their corporate culture by producing and packaging products in an environmentally-responsible manner. This could include products made from recycled materials or minimal-to-zero waste manufacturing processes and creatively packaged to encourage recycling and reduce impact on our landfill. Designers who create work for these companies are helping to promote a real alternative to our mainstream disposable economy. In an effort to inspire you with their successes, we are launching a call for entries for communication and packaging projects that help these eco-friendly companies promote and sell their products.

We're looking for collateral pieces, packaging, Web sites and other design-related promotional efforts. After culling through the submissions, we will select what we feel are the best examples of green design and publish the results in our May/June 2005 issue.

Please do not send television and radio commercials or letterhead designs for possible inclusion. The work must have been produced within the last five years and should not have been previously shown in one of our annuals or the Exhibit section.

Please submit the actual printed project, transparency, digital file or hard copy printout (if your project is selected, we will contact you for final reproduction materials and complete creative credits) with a brief description of the purpose to: Rebecca Bedrossian/Green Design, Communication Arts, 110 Constitution Drive, Menlo Park, California 94025. Pieces to be returned must be accompanied by a self-addressed stamped envelope or your Federal Express number. Submissions must be received no later than Tuesday, February 1, 2005. —Patrick Coyne ca

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