Designer Susan Kare once said that good design comes down to "thinking hard about what you want to do and what you have to work with before you start". It's good advice for work and life, especially when evaluating your successes and setting your next goals.
And as 2022 comes to a close, there's no better time to reflect on what you've given yourself to work with over the past year and look forward to what you want to do next.
In the spirit of looking forward, Creative Boom spoke to designers around the world about their creative goals for the coming year. Here's what they had to say.
Fahud Ahmed plans to embrace a beginner's mindset
2022 saw Ahmed, an associate creative director at Bulletproof, take on the role of sessional lecturer at Ravensbourne University, where he emerged as a designer himself. "Coming back to the place that kickstarted my creative journey has been surreal and humbling," Ahmed tells Creative Boom. "But I've found genuine joy in using my own experiences to help the next generation."
Working with students and younger team members at Bulletproof has inspired him to set a resolution to learn new skills and return to a student mindset himself. So this year, he's set a resolution to explore new skills beyond his creative discipline, push new ideas within his team and provoke new ways of working.
"As we grow in our careers, we lean on our experiences to guide our instincts. But recently, I've learned that as you develop into a creative leader, it's all about inspiring the team around you and empowering them to try new things," says Ahmed. "It's funny; the more experiences you have, the easier it is to revert to what you know. I want to stay naïve and open-minded, to challenge things and, in doing so, open up new opportunities."
Richard Robinson won't be trying to climb Everest
But he will see more of the world because his resolution for 2023 is to travel. "It's an exercise in broadening the mind," the senior designer at Leeds-based Robot Food tells Creative Boom. "The real thing to capture here is staying open to new experiences, unexpected opportunities and the impact this can have on the creative mind."
Robinson also shared some important advice for other creatives regarding setting goals for the new year: "Keep it realistic. It doesn't have to be Everest. Take something that inspires you and set smaller goals to unlock the bigger goal. And most importantly, trust and enjoy the process."
Margaret Nolan wants to get ambitious about sustainability
Nolan knows exactly what she wants to accomplish in 2023: "I want to do some really exciting things to take sustainability to the next level in packaging," the global creative director for Denomination tells Creative Boom. "There's so much waste, and as designers, we are responsible for leading the way. I want to help clients and consumers think differently and really break the norms in wine packaging that are pretty ingrained, especially regarding glass."
Nolan, who works from Sydney, knows that big strides in sustainability are possible. Her hopes were buoyed this year after "seeing Tread Softly – a brand we created a few years ago with the promise of planting a tree for every case sold – reach a million trees planted. When you see the drone footage flying over these trees, it's incredible."
Knowing she and her team played a part in helping create a vast forest on what was an agricultural wasteland inspired her to do even more. She says: "Tread Softly really made me understand how powerful a brand could be in having a secondary purpose, and this has really influenced how I plan to approach NPD projects in the coming year."
Katie Murphy will be making her voice heard
"I'm doing away with fear in 2023 and pushing forward," Murphy, a graphic designer at Californian agency BLVR, tells Creative Boom. "It can be easy to stay quiet during meetings for fear of saying the wrong thing. But the more we speak up, the more invested we become in our clients and projects, and the easier it gets."
Murphy's also embracing bravery outside of work: "I am setting a goal to complete one personal passion project," she shares. "I struggle with getting my ideas on paper, fearing that they will fall flat. But the only way to grow is to push past the fear and just create."
Stephanie Zabala will keep getting creative outside of work
Like Murphy, Stephanie Zabala is investing in her personal creative endeavours in the coming year. The associate design director at New York-based studio Team intends to try her hand at all kinds of new creative outlets – a resolution she's carrying over from 2022.
Zabala tells Creative Boom: "In the new year, I'm planning to take more creative workshops outside my usual visual design work. This past year, I've had a lot of fun exploring weaving and welding through classes."
Zabala says that exploring new activities helps her avoid the creative tunnel vision she develops when she gets too hyper-focused on her own work and allows her to stay inspired and refine her craft. "I also just love and appreciate the opportunity of learning from people who are so skilful and passionate about subjects that I'm less familiar with."
In 2023, she'd particularly like to get into painting. "I have a few digital, abstract sketches that I think could be fun to explore through paint, but I don't know anything about the medium or the techniques, so it'll definitely be an experiment," she tells Creative Boom. "I'm intimidated but excited about it."
Grant Knapp is going to keep putting himself out there
In 2022, Knapp set a resolution to step outside his echo chamber. The ECD at San Diego-based agency, Grizzly, says: "Over the last year, I've tried to surround myself with new people and new ideas to try and force myself to think outside of my own box."
As a result of thinking outside the box in his work and relationships, Knapp says that in 2022, he's been more collaborative than ever. "2022 was a year that felt like a step towards a new normal. The move to hybrid/remote work has made working with people outside the US even easier. My biggest achievement in 2022 has been collaborating with, and growing, connections around the globe."
In 2023, Knapp plans to keep that collaborative spirit going. He also says he's aiming to "show up in the right places ad take more risks. As we all continue to change where and how we spend our time, both digitally and physically, I'll be looking to explore new platforms. I'll also push myself and my collaborators for ideas that are somewhat out of the box."
Yann Maigret plans to empower himself through upskilling
I want to keep building practical skills that help empower my designs, the senior designer at Marks Amsterdam told Creative Boom.
Maigret explains: "Last year, I learned to render my designs in 3D, and now I want to focus on motion design. The end goal is to make my design more engaging and add another layer, take it off the packaging and bring it to life in motion."
Raissa Schpatoff will continue to nurture her connections
Knapp's not the only creative with collaboration top of mind in the coming year. Raissa Schpatoff, a graphic designer and art director at FutureBrand, will also be putting her creative community front and centre in 2023.
Schpatoff recently relocated to the UK from Brazil, where she's building meaningful new connections. She tells Creative Boom that she has an ongoing goal to build bridges: "Collaborating with people makes a huge difference in my day-to-day creative process, where I feel most inspired, and offers me different ways of looking at the world."
She says she's also committed to being more active this year – but she doesn't mean taking more frequent trips to the gym. "In 2023, I want to be an active observer, active listener, active reader."
Al Connolly is putting what he's learned to the test
Al Connolly, a designer at Leeds-based studio Thompson, always tries to create goals that are as specific as possible. He advises that when setting creative goals, you should "be clear and specific about the outcome and what you want the specific results to be."
In that spirit, Connolly is focusing his efforts in 2023 on becoming a more confident presenter. He tells Creative Boom: "At the end of 2022, I started to scratch the surface with some presentation training, so I think it's important to put what I've learnt to the test.
Venetia Thorneycroft plans to do weirder, more unusual things
"I'm hoping to push my creative output in 2023 and do weirder and more unusual things," Thorneycroft, a senior designer at London-based studio Ragged Edge, tells Creative Boom.
Thorneycroft keeps an air of mystery about what weirder and unusual might mean – but she does share how she plans to keep her creative juices flowing. "The key is to draw inspiration from different places (i.e. not Pinterest). So I want to make more time to go to exhibitions, watch films and go to places that feed inspiration."
Gareth Roberts will be happy if this year is better than the last
"My professional and personal goals are generally the same every year: to improve on the previous year," the design director at bluemarlin tells Creative Boom.
For Roberts, improving in 2023 means striving for better in all aspects of his life, so he's aiming "to be a better human, a better designer, a better parent, a better husband, and a better pack leader to my red golden retriever puppy."
And designers everywhere are ready to embrace the unknown in 2023
Almost every designer who shared their new year's resolutions with Creative Boom indicated that a big part of their creative vision for 2023 was to open their minds and hearts to the unexpected.
After the last several years, attitudes to the unknown seem to have shifted from fear and insecurity to curiosity – creating a ripe space for new ideas and promising an exciting and innovative year for design ahead.
Alex Normanton, the global brand experience lead at Reckitt, summed up the growing collective creative hunger for the unknown best when sharing his own goals for 2023: "It's often outside our comfort zones that we have the greatest learning opportunities. So, let's learn to embrace the uncomfortable moments, challenge the status quo, and be brave."