So here we stand, at the beginning of the century's third decade, and for creative professionals, things have never looked more optimistic. The societal shift from analogue to digital means that design is increasingly seen as a central plank of every big company's success, and demand for skills like illustration, graphic design, web design, 3D and animation is hitting record highs.
Of course, such global trends don't always translate instantly into rewarding, well-paid work for everyone, and so many creatives will continue to face challenges and struggles to establish themselves. But we're optimistic there's light at the end of the tunnel, and that with hard work, determination and plenty of grit, we can all achieve our creative dreams in the 2020s.
To cheer you on your way, here's our list of things that all creatives can look forward to in 2020. From new tech and to make you more productive to cultural and artistic events such as 3D movies that will inspire you creatively, we present 20 reasons why 2020 promises to be an awesome year for creatives.
01. Illustrator on the iPad
It’s been a whole decade since the iPad launched, but in all that time, creatives have been unable to use the full version of Adobe Illustrator on it. Sure, you could make some basic edits to your .ai files using a tool like Illustrator Draw, but that was about it.
This left Serif, Adobe’s main competitor, able to pull off a coup by launching Affinity Designer for iPad in the summer of 2018. That seems to have spurred Adobe into action and finally, it announced last November that a full version of Illustrator would be coming to the iPad in 2020. (Check out our article outlining some of the super-cool things you’ll be able to do with it.)
Serif, meanwhile, has upped the ante by announcing that a full version of its desktop publishing tool, Affinity Publisher, will be available for the iPad next year too; this will hopefully prompt Adobe to follow suit with InDesign. In short, the time when we’ll be able to seamlessly move from tablet to laptop with our creative work is coming... and not a moment too soon!
02. Foldable devices
The 2000s brought us the smartphone, the 2010s the tablet, and in the 2020s, it’s going to be about foldables. These new devices basically give you the flexibility to switch between a small screen and a larger one, and the industry is betting big that they'll be the next game-changer. With support built into Android 10, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is already here, and with Microsoft's Surface Duo, Huawei's Mate X and Motorola’s Razr coming soon, we’re sure to see Apple entering the foldable fray in 2020. We're expecting a shakeup of our best smartphones list very soon.
Why is this good news for creatives? Well, if you take the optimistic line, then the added flexibility of foldable devices will open up huge potential to make us more creative and productive. Conversely, if you’re among the cynics, there’s at least going to be lots of extra work for designers rethinking websites and apps, and making them work better on foldable devices. So that’ll be a win-win, then.
03. Toyko Olympics
Every Olympics is special, of course. But the return of the Games to Tokyo, which first hosted them in 1964, promises to be very special indeed. From the country that brought the world everything from Studio Ghibli to Baby Metal, we can only imagine what weird and wonderful visual delights the opening and closing ceremonies will bring. And we can’t wait to see what new branding magic will be unveiled once the event gets closer. If the uber-cute mascots and winning idea of using recycled Olympic medals are anything to go by, we’re in for a flurry of colourful and creative treats. (Oh, and the actual sport will probably be fun, too.)
04. The 5G revolution
Yes, we know: technically 5G launched in 2019, but initial coverage was pretty limited and smartphone makers are really only now getting started with it. So it’s 2020 that will be the real year of 5G, with availability broadening and new phones like the Pixel 5, iPhone 12 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S11 allowing us to take advantage of the superfast internet it offers.
As consumers, that means we’ll be to use the web without all that stuttering latency, making for a smoother and more relaxing experience. As creatives, it means we’ll have more opportunities to, for example, progressively enhance our apps and websites for 5G users, providing richer visuals and more complex interactions, from 4K video to augmented reality features. If you want to know how to get on board with the next mobile revolution, check out our sister site TechRadar's guide to everything you need to know about 5G.
05. The Year of Raphael
The year 2020 marks 500 years since the death of Raphael, the painter, draughtsman, architect, archaeologist, and poet whose shaped the Western world like few artists have, before or since. And this landmark anniversary will herald a ‘Year of Raphael’, with some spectacular shows across the world.
The biggest will be held at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale in collaboration with Florence’s Gallerie degli Uffizi, while major Raphael works will also be on display at Milan’s Ambrosiana, and the National Gallery and the V&A in London, and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin.
Offering the chance to see rarely and never-before exhibited pieces by the great master, these events will offer an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in some of history’s greatest artworks, and get a blast of inspiration for your own creative projects.
06. Smartphone camera wars
Right now, there’s a war raging for the smartphone market, and the consumer is only going to benefit in 2020, not least when it comes to the increasingly quality of the cameras in our pockets. Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S11, for example, will come with a 108-megapixel sensor, an ultrawide-angle lens and 5x optical zoom.
It’s a feisty response to the impressive advancements in the iPhone 11’s cameras, and we expect Apple, and other rivals like Huawei, to respond in kind. So whether you use your smartphone camera as part of your job, or just for fun and inspiration, expecting plenty of cool new photography tech to inspire and excite you in the year to come. For now, check out the best camera phones available on the current market.
07. Cyberpunk 2077
There are plenty of exciting new videogames coming our way in 2020, including Gods and Monsters, Doom Eternal, Occupy Mars and The Last of Us Part II. But we’ll be honest: the one we’re most thrilled about is Cyberpunk 2077, a story-driven, open world RPG of the dark future from CD PROJEKT RED, creators of The Witcher series. Not least because of the jaw-dropping art behind it, which suggests an elaborate futuristic world that’s not bright and gleaming but morbidly gritty.
The gameplay trailer suggests it’s going to be brilliantly playable too, and early reports from the E3 videogames expo have been very positive. Finally, when Keanu Reeves made a surprise appearance in a game's trailer… well, you just know this game is going to be very special.
08. New gaming consoles
Next year won’t just be about new games, but brand new games consoles. Xbox Series X, the next-generation Xbox, is scheduled for release in late 2020. With a tower design that makes it look more like a gaming PC than a console (which has spawned plenty of savage memes), the new Xbox promises to be super-powerful and able to run games at 60 FPS in 4K. And that’s not all. Around the same time we'll see the launch of the PS5, aka PlayStation 5, which is predicted to include 8K TV support and 3D audio.
Beyond that, we really don’t know a lot about what these new consoles will offer yet, such as whether they’ll feature VR capabilities. But it’s almost certain they’ll take video gaming to a whole new level, and provide game designers and developers a whole new impetus to imagine a new worlds, characters and scenarios to enthral us in 2020 and beyond.
09. Generate JS
More and more creatives are working from home and only interacting with colleagues and clients at a digital level. But while that makes for better efficiency and work-life balance, it’s no substitution for interacting and forming real relationships in the physical world. For this reason, we predict that creative conferences and events will be become both bigger and more numerous in the decade to come.
There are lots of great-looking movies to come in 2020 but most of them, inevitably, are reboots or sequels. And so while we’re still very much looking forward to Wonder Woman 1984, Bill & Ted Face the Music, A Quiet Place Part II, Top Gun Maverick, Bad Boys for Life, Ghostbusters: After Life and Coming 2 America, it’s good to know that there’ll also be plenty of original fare to save us from franchise fatigue.
Top of our must-see list is Tenet from director Christopher Nolan. The film stars John David Washington of BlacKkKlansman fame, has been given a gigantic budget, and is set in the world of international espionage but “crossing a few different genres”, according to Nolan. The trailer (above) looks incredible and quite simply we can’t wait to see this film.
11. Aladdin City
There are many famous buildings around the world to inspire us creatively. But 2020 should see the completion of a new development that promises to really take your breath away.
Designed by the International Design Studio (IDS) and under construction by Meinhardt World Wide, Aladdin City will feature three towers, designed to resemble Aladdin’s magic lamp, linked by bridges and walkways. The towers will reach the height of 24, 25 and 33 storeys, at an eye-watering cost of $15bn. And if the finished version looks anything like the artist’s impression shown above, the world is certain to come flocking.
12. Action on the environment
If the 2010s were the decade of heightened environmental awareness, the 2020s will hopefully be the decade of environmental solutions. As creatives, we have our own roles to play of course, especially in fields like packaging and product design. But every part of society needs to pull together, so it’s good news that governments are finally starting to push through practical measures too.
For example, from April 2020, plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds with plastic stems will be banned from sale and use in England. Also in the coming year, Liberia will become the world’s first nation to completely stop cutting down its trees in return for development aid (Norway will pay it $150 million to halt deforestation in the West African nation).
Such restrictions present big challenges to international business, but if anything designers thrive on pushing up against limitations and coming up with new creative solutions. So ideally, new environmental regulations won't just help save the planet, they'll help to further invigorate the design industry too!
13. Vertex 2020
If you’re a 2D or 3D artist and can get to London on 27-28 February, then here’s an event to get excited about. Vertex, a conference hosted by Creative Bloq, 3D World and ImagineFX, brings together industry expertise across the world of CG, from video games, VFX and VR to concept art, real-time creation and more. You’ll get the opportunity to hone your skills with advice from leading industry artists and learn from the world’s best creative studios. Get your ticket today.
14. The Munch Museum
There are a lot of cool new museums due to launch in 2020, not least Giza’s Grand Egyptian Museum. But the one we’re most excited about is the relaunched Munch Museum in a new building on Oslo's waterfront, scheduled to open this spring.
One of the world's largest museums dedicated to a single artist, it will feature an vast array of work by Edvard Munch, who’s most famous for The Scream, across 13 floors. Work by innovative contemporary artists will also be on show, plus the unusual building, designed by Spanish architecture firm Estudio Herreros, is something of a work of art itself.
15. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
It doesn’t seem long ago since companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon were young upstarts, challenging business norms. But in just a few years, they’ve turned the world upside-down and increasingly dominate every aspect of life. Shedding light on what it was like to be in the eye of this storm, a new memoir promises to be the must-read of 2020.
In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener left a job in book publishing in New York and headed to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble. Her book, Uncanny Valley, charts a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on glory. Due for release on 23 January, this looks like being one book that everyone in the creative industries will have an opinion on.
If you thought we’d reach a peak number of streaming platforms in 2019, which saw the launch of Disney+, Apple TV and Britbox, then hold on to your hats. New services due to come online in 2020 include HBO Max, NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Discovery Networks. But while all these offerings more or less ape the Netflix model, we’re more excited about Quibi, which is doing something a little different.
In simple terms, the California-based platform is a streaming service for short-form mobile video. It’s targeted at younger viewers with premium content delivered in "quick bites" for viewing on the go. And this is no fly-by-night operation: the company has generated a billion dollars in funding from investors including Disney, NBCUniversal, Sony and WarnerMedia.
While other streaming services are tightly focused on millennials, this new startup aims to win the hearts of the younger Generations Z and Alpha, and stake a claim to the future of streaming video. Will this lead to new and exciting opportunities for imaginative and inventive video creators? We’ve honestly no idea, but we’re looking forward to finding out.
17. Grimes goes nu-metal
Whatever your creative work involves, most of us rely on a kickass soundtrack to keep us going. And there are a lot of new albums to look forward to in 2020, including the folk stylings of Agnes Obel’s Myopia, the indie sounds of Bombay Bicycle Club’s Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, the cosmic rap of GZA’s Dark Matter and the impassioned punk of IDLES Toneland. But the one we’re most looking forward to is the return of Canadian songwriter and visual artist Grimes.
Known for effortlessly crossing genres across her four previous albums, including dream pop, R&B, electronic music, experimental music and hip hop, Grimes’s new release Miss_Anthrop0cene will feature what she’s described as “ethereal nu-metal”. She’s also describes it as "a concept album about the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change," and if that doesn’t intrigue you, we don’t know what will.
18. Brand Impact Awards
Is your studio producing world-class work, but not getting the recognition it deserves? Then it’s time to do something about it! The Brand Impact Awards is an international awards scheme that celebrates creative excellence and consistency across branding design. Brought to you by Computer Arts and Creative Bloq, the Awards are now in their seventh consecutive year, and the 2020 edition is open to all to enter. Check the highlights of last year’s ceremony .
19. The Photography Show
The UK’s biggest event of its kind, The Photography Show attracts 32,000 visitors to Birmingham’s NEC across four days, and for good reason. It offers a chance to try out the latest kit from over 300 brands, get practical advice from the experts, and hear tales from legends of photography and film-making. Whether you’re a seasoned professional photographer, keen enthusiast or anywhere in between, it’s a must-visit event for 2020.
20. Y: The Last Man
You might love your creative work, but at some point you need to take a break and chill out in front of the TV. And just like at the cinema, there are a ton of great franchises returning in 2020, with highlights including Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, Monsters Inc spin-off Monsters at Work, Star Trek: Picard, season 11 of Doctor Who, season 3 of Killing Eve, season 2 of After Life, and many more.
If you’re looking for something totally new, though, don’t fret: there are a lot of original shows coming our way that look pretty awesome. Our picks include Hunters, which follows a diverse band of Nazi hunters living in 1977 New York; January 22nd, a drama about sexual consent starring Michaela Coel; and Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, a dramedy about a computer coder who hears other people’s inner monologues as songs.
But we’re most excited about FX's Y: The Last Man, an adaptation of the comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra published from 2002-2008. Starring Diane Lane, Barry Keoghan, Imogen Poots, Amber Tamblyn and Timothy Hutton, the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which a cataclysmic event has killed every male mammal save for one lone human and his capuchin monkey. Exploring issues of gender, race, class and survival, if this show is half as good as the original comic, it’s going to be very good indeed.