Insight: Shutterstock Creative Trends Report Points to a "Roaring 20s" Kind of Year

By David Schonauer   Wednesday January 15, 2020

Welcome to the “Roaring 20s.”

The 2020s, that is.

Stock giant Shutterstock has released its ninth annual Creative Trends Report, which identifies “global and local trends that will influence design aesthetics and visual culture” in the year ahead. Based on data collected from billions of searches for images, footage, and music content by Shutterstock customers around the world, this year’s report singles out three major creative trends peaking now:

The Roaring 2020s

“A century after the loud and lavish 1920s, the look that defined an era is back and on the center stage globally in 2020,” notes Shutterstock. “Searches for ‘gold pattern’ are up 4,223 percent year-over-year and ‘'20s retro' saw an increase of 189 percent from the previous year.”


“Alternative faiths and age-old beliefs are enchanting Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha, showing renewed interest in mainstream channels and on social media networks in particular. Customers are searching for keywords like ‘magic’ and ‘spiritual’ an impressive 525 percent and 289 percent more respectively over last year,” notes the company.

In Full Bloom

“Forget elegant arrangements and delicate displays,” declares Shutterstock. “The floral visuals of tomorrow are big, bright and in full bloom. The 141-percent surge in searches for 'flowerscape' and 136-percent uptick for ‘bloom’ make this a vivid trend for the year ahead.”

“This year’s data points toward the pursuit of meaning, happiness, and opportunity in new  creative projects—traits that may be reflective of the uncertainty in our climate and the year ahead,” said Lou Weiss, CMO at Shutterstock, in a statement released with the report.

The report is meant to guide and inspire and brand managers and creatives as they develop projects in 2020, notes Shutterstock. That includes photographers and video makers. (The company points out that growth in average daily time spent with video increased by 11 percent among users in 2018, making it the fastest-growing digital media activity, according for eMarketer.)

The findings, which point generally toward an affection for the big and colorful, fall in line with Shutterstock’s previous predictions about color trends

Adobe and Storyblocks have also released trend reports, and, as Digital Trends pointed out recently, if the reports are any indication, “photography will be about more honest art than traditional photography rules in 2020. Counterintuitively, several 2020 photography trends focus on creative expression, which is usually about disregarding what’s popular. Whether you want to fill your Instagram feed with on-trend images or you want to know how to go against the crowd, here are the types of images you can expect to see trending in 2020.”

Also on the rise, according to the new Shutterstock trend report:


Searches for “Marijuana” were up 154 percent. Searches for “Minimal Branding” were up 149 percent. “From Scandanavian-inspired minimalism to simple, functional design, new brands are embracing the mainstreaming of cannabis,” notes the report.

Minimalist Black

Searches for “Black” were up 1,779 percent. “Designers will lean into black’s depth and contrast to create powerful experiences. Meanwhile, new and darker shades of black will allow artists endless options for stunning, unprecedented minimalism,” notes the company.


Searches for “Hiking” were up 533 percent. Searches for “Camping” were up 368 percent. Searches for “Backpack and Boots” were up 325 percent.

“Outdoor adventure has been growing in popularity, as both a hobby and a visual subject,” notes the report. “The resulting imagery captures the moodier side of nature and its power over our emotions.”


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