Design democracy means infinite possibility

Published:  January 21, 2016


The democratising influence of digital marketplaces in the design world has been felt for a number of years. Artists are no longer at mercy of a single patron or agency – marketplaces are freeing them and stimulating a new wave of creative commerce. In our community of designers and developers alone we’ve seen over 48 creatives make more than $1 million from their work. That number is expected to double in the next 18 months.

One Queensland-based creative couple, dtbaker, design and code for customers world over, and the studio is approaching its second million in sales. Lau Jimenez is a Colombian graphic designer and illustrator, based in Germany, who says a marketplace model lets her reach customers all over the world and builds a strong personal brand within a larger creative community. Collectively the community has made over $300 million.

141785-Isabel - Fine.Still006-e4a2b8-original-1410915800

The virtue of the ecosystem

The power of the digital marketplace is that it lets anyone with talent create high-end work and reach a diverse, global customer base – whether they’re working freelance or with a larger company. Cracked the perfect WordPress theme or motion graphic? It can produce an ongoing income while you focus on perfecting new software, or take on a bespoke project.

At Envato, we consider our creative community members and sellers to be our partners. Our model is designed to create the widest possible range of opportunities for them as they move through their careers, develop or refine new skills, and explore new ways of working.

We see people build their skills using Envato tutorials and courses, create top selling work in Envato Market and dabble with bespoke freelancer projects through Envato Studio. Some designers and developers lean on a few high performing items; others build out a steady pipeline of creations across categories over the years, moving with the market. Recently, we launched Envato Sites, which brings the marketplace model to website builders, and is yet another way for talented creators to earn, by helping out those who need a ready-made website, fit for purpose.

Rather than cannibalise itself, this community model lets talented creators move through its different components as they wish, depending on where they’re at in their life or career cycle.

Tools that are tools alone will never replace the human element. But a digital marketplace or platform that focuses on relationships – connecting and empowering creative people and the people who want their work – can be a game changer. Designers are in a better position than ever to carve their own path and retain independence.

141784-Kailoon & Jarel Fine V2.Still003-b1ff22-original-1410915799Design owns the future

It’s a remarkable time to be a digital creative. Convergence means that design is more important than ever, and is being leaned upon across a multitude of industries. The Internet of Things is approaching fast, and will demand out of the box design thinking to ensure it’s as seamless and impactful as its champions envision. Are you ready to design graphics that will appear on a windowpane?

The transformative effect of technology on the media industry is being repeated in the design and production industries. As the cost of time, material and accessibility diminishes, design possibilities seem destined to flourish. Think of the designer who will be able to earn a steady income from their suite of website, app and 3D manufacturing templates. The trends we see at Envato suggest that mixed media savviness is an important skill for tomorrow’s designers.

With design opening up to the masses, through tools like Canva, design professionals have the opportunity to take a leading role, helping others learn about the conditions for great design outcomes. Within the Envato ecosystem, we see designers earning a handsome income from a product in the marketplace, then giving back to the community by instructing others in our tutorials, mentoring other designers, or just helping their ‘cloud’ of peers have a better experience overall.

We shouldn’t mistake tools for the underlying discipline of design thinking. But, broadly, more accessible tools and more access to professionals mean more opportunities, and that’s a good thing. It also means better communications, and a better understanding and appreciation of the importance of what the design industry does.

141789-Muhammad - Fine 2.Still010-b1a3a3-original-1410915810What’s on trend for 2016

With over six million in our creative community, we see a lot of work, and host a lot of discussions about what clients want, and what’s got designers excited.

Here are some trends we see emerging for 2016:

    • Material, flat and responsive design will remain popular, becoming even more pervasive and continuing to evolve – even converging.
    • Typography that packs a punch looks to be as hot as ever; master the elements that bring lettering to life because the font still rules.
    • Embrace micro-interactivity – those small effects that let the user share a dialogue with the page or the interface, helping shape the experience.
    • Template diversification – consumers love the simplicity and ease of a great template, but still want something that fits their explicit needs. Designers are responding with increasingly niche offerings suiting business objectives as well as aesthetic ones.
    • Nostalgia – there’s an appetite for design that triggers emotion, and motifs or styles that make us recall our past fit that bill like no other. Retro, vintage and period flair are returning, but with minimalist sensibilities.

This article first appeared in the desktop-Pause special.
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