Creativity with a conscience: how freelancers are designing with purpose

Melbourne, Australia
1 Mar 2022
99designs by Vista has today released “Design Without Borders 2022: A fresh perspective on freelance” – the company’s third annual report exploring the state of the global freelance design industry. 

More than 10,000 freelance designers across 144 countries have shared their insights, experience and perspectives in one of the most far-reaching surveys of its kind. 

In a year where the post-pandemic world renegotiates the future of work, designers are stepping up and taking control of their careers: rethinking their place in traditional agency structures; upskilling for growth, with 78% learning a new professional skill in the last 6 months; and challenging industry bias with a strong belief in a better future. At the same time, the majority are also earning more (71%) and have found better work-life balance (60%). 

99designs by Vista CEO Patrick Llewellyn comments, “Through another challenging year, it’s inspiring to see freelance designers harness their creative power for good, taking purposeful action and making real social impact, while also building more successful and fulfilling careers.”A few key findings from 2022’s survey include: 

Designers are looking for purpose, not just a paycheck

  • With brand activism on the rise, freelancers are stepping up: 97% of designers believe they have the power to make a real social impact
  • 85% of freelancers believe it's important to work for clients who share their values
  • 40% turned down work this year because of a client’s stance on a social issue they care about
  • Almost a third of designers also work with a social justice organization, with 66% of these freelancers volunteering to do some charity work pro bono
Freelancers are striking a balance and finding success 

  • The majority of freelance designers (60%) say their overall work-life balance has improved in the past twelve months
  • 68% report brands and agencies are more open to working with freelance talent than before the pandemic
  • As attitudes to remote work continue to evolve, 71% of designers expect their annual income from freelance work to increase in 2022
There is a Great Agency Exodus happening 

  • 1 in 5 freelancers currently work at a traditional agency – but almost half (45%) of them have considered leaving in the past year
  • Almost a third (30%) of all designers with agency experience have quit their agency job in the past twelve months to freelance
  • Just 15% of designers want to be employed at an agency in 5 years
  • However, with 48% of freelancers also saying they would like to establish their own studio or agency in the next 5 years – and 68% already pulling in other freelancers in their network to work on projects – it seems new types of creative collectives and remote teams are poised to break on to the scene
To view the full report findings visit

The data for this report was collected by 99designs by Vista between October 18, 2021and November 1st, 2021. The online survey was distributed via email, social media, paid and industry-targeted ads onLinkedIn and Facebook. It had 10,118 qualified respondents from the following regions: APAC (4,059), Europe (2,570), North America (582), South America (1,283), Africa (765) and Unknown Location (859) 

About 99designs by Vista:
99designs by Vista is the global creative platform that makes it easy to work with professional freelance designers online. 99designs has paid out more than US $400m to its creative community to date, with designers working across brand and logo design, packaging, web design and more.

Media Contact: Caitlin Collins /