State of the Art: Shutterstock Predicts the Creative Trends of 2019

By David Schonauer   Monday January 14, 2019

This year it will be back to the future.

At least in design styles and visual production.

Stock giant Shutterstock has released its 2019 Creative Trends Report, which is based on the use of search terms from clients, and it appears as if the future is going to look a lot like the past … with some twists.

“What’s old is new again,” notes the report. “With interest in terms like “Synthwave” increasing 717% , “Retrowave” up 676% and “Duotone” up 230 percent, this trend is an optimistic redux of early-tech — a focus on what yesterday’s tomorrow looked like. It’s all about the looks and sounds that defined futurism at the daw of the digital age like bold purple, blue, and pink duotone gradients, basic vector graphics, and dreamy synth music.”

Such predictions are in line with the techy colors that Shutterstock previously predicted will dominate in 2019: UFO Green (“evokes lush countrysides alongside whirling rows of binary code, a la 'The Matrix'"); Plastic Pink (“harkens back to a certain iconic toy but carries a whole new intensity in meaning”); and Proton Purple (“buzzing neon signs, humming devices, vibrating phones”).

Among the creative trends Shutterstock sees coming this year: the return of Zine culture. But the “raw, homemade aesthetic” will get a digital update, notes the company. “With a 1376% increase in searches for ‘contemporary art collage,’ zine culture clearly lives on in the decentralized mindset of the digital age through social media, where independent makers can share and niche groups can discover. Built on principles of collage and largely influenced by the invention of the photocopier, it is paper cutouts, noise and grain textures, and rough-edged layers that define this trend,” notes the report.

Also on its way this year is the return of ’80s opulence. “The ‘80s are back and ready to party,” declares Shutterstock. “The term ‘chain print’ is up 731% and ‘elegance pattern’ searches increased 1060%. Forget good taste, this is about good times. Clashing is the key word for this trend. Think leopard print (up 167%) and snakeskin (up 157%), peacock feathers and gold chain belts, soft fur and hard metal textures.”

Or, just think “Dynasty,” the classic television show born in the heyday of Reagan-era over-abundance.

“The year-over-year search increases provide insights that are not only helpful for other marketers as they prepare for campaigns throughout the year, but also valuable to artists, photographers, videographers and musicians,” adds Shutterstock.

With the release of the 2019 Creative Trends report, we also perused some of Shutterstock’s other predictions for 2019, including the company’s Top Video Marketing Trends report. Among those trends is the continued “democratization” of video with less expensive prosumer 4K cameras saturating the market.

The report also notes that while Facebook “has seemingly backed off from its laissez faire approach to content and video,” Facebook owned Instagram has trended in the opposite direction for video makers and marketers alike. “With a reported 1 billion active monthly users, engagement on branded Instagram content is up to 10x that of Facebook content,” notes the report. Reddit is also becoming more video friendly.

Meanwhile, celebrity social media influencers may be less influential over time, while knowledgeable “brand ambassadors” are gaining clout.

But there’s more to that story.

In Shutterstock’s Digital Marketing Trends report for 2019, the company highlights the power of micro-influencers.

“Most people think of influencers as celebrities with millions of followers on platforms like YouTube and Instagram, but it doesn’t take a massive audience to wield influence on social sites. The Kardashians, Zach King, or The Rock may be able to sell products with a mere mention of a brand, but the cost of such celebrity endorsements makes them unattainable for most brands. Instead, small businesses are now looking to “everyman” social media users with smaller niche audiences,” notes the report.

So here we are in 2019, living through the Trump era, which honestly hasn't been much fun  for anyone, and looking back with fondness to the metallic sheen of the 1980s. As Shutterstock notes, we're ready to party. At any rate, as we find our path through the thicket of Kardashians in the hope of finding some kind of authenticity, we can look forward to 2020, which is now just eleven and a half months away. Get in your DeLorean, crank up the flux capacitor, and before you know it you’ll be there.




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