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Shutterstock’s 2020 Creative Trends report reveals the visual taffy we’ll be chewing all year

Smiling old guy is so 2019.

Shutterstock creative trends report for 2020
Image: Shutterstock

Each year, stock photography (and video and assorted media) powerhouse Shutterstock releases its Creative Trends report for the coming year. Using fairly simple analytics based on the search trends of its users, Shutterstock is able to predict the hottest visual trends of 2020.

Each year the report becomes more of an experience than just some infographic with some stats. In 2018 the report was fairly straightforward, 2019 was typography heavy and 2020 is led by our collective inability to reconcile the fact that this version of the 20s is not that version of the 20s.

Major trends

Roaring 20s at shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The roaring 20s seem to not only be a theme in our cognitive dissonance with the new decade but with how we want to visualize it as well. Searches for “gold pattern” were up 4,223%, “’20s retro” up 189% and “liner geometric” up 106%. This points to a year of art deco inspired design and visuals.

Occulture is the next biggest trend to look out for. We’re collectively exhausted with the religion of politics and we’re looking for media that visualizes our journey through the mystical. Searches for “magic” (+525%), “spiritual” (+289%), “horoscopes” (+37%) and “palm reading” (+22%) point to a year where we finally might fully embrace the occult to get things done. Shake the bones, check out the images.

The third major trend based on Shutterstock’s search data is floral visuals, specifically in full bloom. “Flowerscape” (+141%), “bloom” (+136%) and “live wall” (+83%) are revealing a bold color palette and typography created from plant life. Vivid flowerscapes are helping us escape from this hell on Earth we’ve created, but can still find beauty in.

Rising trends

Shutterstock minimal blacks

Image: Shutterstock

As the year progresses, Shutterstock has set aside some noticeable keywords that suggest new trends on the rise. Hence, rising trends. This isn’t hard.

Pushed by keywords like “marijuana” (+154%) and “minimal branding” (+149%), Cannabiz is on the rise. The pot leaf from the 90s is dead and sophisticated design has taken its place.

Minimalist Black (+1,779% increase for “black”) shows that people are loving dark mode in all aspects of their lives. This pushes a minimalistic design trend that focuses more on contrast than bright, flashy colors.

Wild Life searches for keywords like “hiking” (+553%), “camping” (+368%) and “backpack and boots” (+325%) reflect our desire to leave the modern world and return to the wilderness, where the only votes that have to be cast are for drinking your own urine or not.

The artistically unique style of Chinese Ink Painting appears on the rising trends list, led by searches for “ink and wash painting” (+118%), “cherry blossom illustration” (+152%) and “Chinese illustration” (+74%). We do want some fresh art in our lives, to counteract the debilitating sadness.

Finally, the last rising trend is all about getting our game on. Searches for “sports” (+1,647%), “running” (+197%), “cycling” (+161%), “boxing” (+150%) and “swimming” (+120%) point to a lot of content about to hit the internet, encouraging us to be our best selves and probably track our progress with some connected device.

The last bit

What does all this mean? It means that these are the visual trends we’re going to see in the coming year in advertising, in content creation and casually while flipping through Instagram. Because if content creators see these trends rising with brands, they’ll make their own content (which may itself end up on Shutterstock). These trends reflect our sensibilities as a society, as evidenced by the one trend to watch in 2020 — the resistance.

It’s an election year, so it checks out that protest art is the trend to watch in 2020. There will be tons of content surrounding protests, speaking up against the rich, white patriarchy that continues to rule this country by keeping us serfs underemployed and poor. It’s time to rise up, and the only way to do that is with the right visuals.

You can view the entire Shutterstock 2020 Creative Trends report here. Be sure to scroll all the way down and check out the local trends that compile data from 25 countries around the world to see its emerging keywords and colors. It’s going to be a crazy fucking year, but at least it’ll be visually stimulating.

What do you think? Do these trends seem about right for 2020? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Defunct writer. Exhausted. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Don't email me.

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