Shutterstock Report: Creative trend predictions for 2018

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Robyn Lange, Curator at Shutterstock.

Shutterstock, one of the world’s leading creative platforms, has released its seventh annual Creative Trends Prediction report for 2018. Shutterstock puts together this report every year by examining billions of searches that are carried out on Shutterstock’s collection of millions of images, music, and video clips. Shutterstock’s analysis identifies which themes and concepts will shape creative direction in the new year.

Shutterstock’s Creative Trends predictions matter for freelance creative professionals and sellers across all verticals by pointing the direction of popular culture and design. The Creative Trends report inspires creative professionals all over the world as they strategize creative planning for the year ahead.

Here are the highlights of Shutterstock’s Creative Trends predictions. Keep ahead of demand by informing yourself about the biggest creative trends for 2018!

The 11 top trends for 2018

  1. Fantasy

Fantasy characters like unicorns and mermaids are up 297% and 145% respectively in recent image searches on Shutterstock. Epic orchestral scores are big in music searches and mythical landscapes and richly imagined scenes are popular in design. Use references to legends, the supernatural, and imaginary tales in your design, narrative, and sound for 2018.

  1. New minimalism

2018 is seeing a remake of minimalism that includes bright, bold colors and flowing lines. Searches for “continuous line” are up 432% and those for “neon circle” increased by 387% as part of the move towards vibrant, simple designs. Musically, new minimalism is expressed through continuous looping sounds. Inject bright color, uncomplicated lines, and repeated patterns to your style to draw on new minimalism in 2018.

  1. Space

The revival of Star Wars and popularity of TV sci-fi series have brought a parallel rise in searches for solar (991%) and astro (671%). Space themes are coming out both through dark, sinister space-age images and beautiful stellar designs. Searches for synthwave sounds are up 494% too. Draw on cosmic, interstellar styles for music, design, and narrative to capitalize on this theme.

  1. Natural luxury

Natural luxury is arising out of New Age and bohemian trends, bringing about more luxe textures and deep colors. Swirling marble and agate effects (up by 416% and 275%) are popular across many verticals. Expect housewares and paper goods, among other products, to sell well with these designs.

  1. Punchy pastels

2018 is seeing a revamp of pastels from pale and interesting to become juicy, punchy, and noticeable. Candy shades are deeper and more edgy this year so plan to combine pastel color schemes with rebellious images and unite subtle hues with brighter shades.

  1. A global march

Equality politics and the passion for women’s rights are part of image and design trends for 2018. Women’s voices are loud and proud this year with searches for International Women’s Day up 660%. Powerful images, videos, and sound that draw on activism are strong trends to include.

  1. Cactus

Unexpectedly popping up in cute cartoon form or edgy desert imagery, cacti are pushing forward in 2018. Photography and illustration are placing cactus in the foreground and the background, while bleak desert aesthetics and stark landscapes are popular in design and video.

  1. Digital crafts

The textures of paper, embroidery, and fabric are being reinvented for digital media this year. Patterns and design are drawing on traditional crafts to bring depth and feel to computer screens. Include embroidery, paper folding, or fabrics in your UI, products, and marketing to cash in on this trend.

  1. Ancient geometrics

Symmetrical and mathematical shapes are increasingly popular. Arabesques have seen the single biggest rise in searches at 8,536% while guilloches and mandalas are up 695% and 632%. The mystical impact of geometrics is part of their charm, combined with evocative multi-colored shades. Geometrics make the perfect backdrop for websites and products or design element for any products.

  1. Crypto-currency

As crypto-currency becomes the hottest topic of conversation it’s also moving into the world of design and image. Videos and visuals that refer to cypto-currency are highly popular across verticals.

  1. Holographic foil

Searches for holographic are up by 435% on Shutterstock. Part of the impact of new age on this year’s trends, holographic designs have been updated from the 80s to blend sci-fi and nostalgia. Use holographic shimmer and effects anywhere for major impact.

Alongside these 11 global creative trends, the 2018 Shutterstock Creative Trends report also notes 20 region-specific trends that could be useful for anyone focusing on a particular market. These include floral embroidery in Korea, the dog in Brazil, vintage styles in Canada, Terrazzo in the UK, nebulae in India, and mathematical curves in Australia. Discover the full list here.

What this means for freelance creative professionals

If your stock in trade is designing images, providing photographs or creating any form of video or musical content, you’ll want to know what directions to pursue in 2018. Expect visuals and audio that incorporate these 11 themes to be in high demand this year, so point your camera, pen, or researches this way.

What this means for international sellers

No matter what your trade or where your main market is located, you can’t afford to ignore this peek into 2018 trends. These themes are likely to lead the market in every vertical, so pick one, two or a few that complement your business and find ways to make them more prominent this year.


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