2018 Creative Trends – The Shutterstock Blog

Discover the biggest image, video, and music styles of the year, from major trends to local favorites.

Every year, Shutterstock customers across the world make billions of searches for images, footage, and music. Our data and creative teams analyze this search and download data to discover the biggest year-over-year increases. With the information gathered, plus expert knowledge from our content, design, video, and music teams, we identify the trends that will continue to grow throughout 2018.

From major trends that will dominate popular culture to trends to watch that will burst onto the design scene, these are the top 11 styles to emerge in the coming year. Scroll through the infographic to see each one, and be sure to get all the way to the bottom to see our “trend to watch,” which we think will be inescapable this year.

Stay ahead with our trend insights, then see how you can make cutting-edge creative projects in 2018 with our hand-selected images, footage, and music for the trends. Check out our coverage of these trends throughout the year, including tips, tutorials, and trendspotting.

From mythical beasts to magical landscapes, symbols and styles of the fantasy genre help us slip into another world. Game of Thrones has dominated pop culture for several years, but new ventures, like the recently announced Lord of the Rings TV series, bring fresh interest to this age-old genre.

Shutterstock 2018 Creative Trends – Fantasy

Searches are increasing for recognized fantasy characters – unicorn up 297% and mermaid up 145% – and epic, orchestral music is growing in popularity as marketers and creative professionals look to add a bit of the supernatural to our everyday. Look for fantasy styles, sounds, and narratives to gain influence across the board.

Discover distant lands, far-off realms, and mythic creatures in our curated Fantasy collections of images, footage, and music.

Tip: To find fantasy images on Shutterstock, try the search term magical landscape.

Minimalism is evolving from its modest roots to a look fit for modern times. The new minimalism goes beyond crisp, clean lines to feature bold, vibrant colors and fluid styles that reimagine this consistently popular art form.

Shutterstock 2018 Creative Trends – New Minimalism

While searches for continuous line increased 432%, a new contender in minimalism, neon circle, was searched for 387% more. Look for designs that challenge the concept of “stripped down” with neon lights, added texture, and concentrated color, plus minimalist tracks that feature continuous, loopable sounds.

Make a statement with the bold, uncomplicated style of New Minimalism using our curated collections of images, footage, and music.

Tip: Discover the characteristic sound of new minimalism on Shutterstock by searching for atmospheric music.

The sci-fi genre continues to win at the box office with the revitalization of Star Wars, Star Trek, and several Marvel cosmic films, as well as TV, in popular series like Stranger Things, Dark, and The Orville. The creative world is taking note with an emphasis on space. Searches for solar are up 991% and interest in astro has increased 671%, while the popularity of the unmistakable sci-fi synthwave sound has increased 494%.

Shutterstock 2018 Creative Trends – Space

As we live out the innovations and technology once the stuff of storybooks, our ideas about the next frontier – and a changing Earth – are bubbling to the surface. The result is a space full of awe-inspiring galactic beauty and a darker, more dystopian feel.

Explore the infinite with our cosmic collections of Space-themed images, footage, and music.

Tip: Search for galaxy or space shuttle to find amazing footage of this trend on Shutterstock.

Rising from the popularity of bohemia and new age aesthetics and practices, this style incorporates the swirls of marble (+416%) or the ripples of agate (+275%) for a luxe effect that can be subtle or dramatic. Stones like marble contain all the history and secrets of the Earth, adding a sense of mysticism to their innate beauty. From housewares to paper goods, look for this style to dominate in its natural luxury.

2018 Creative Trends – Natural Luxury

Explore this trend’s dynamic images on Shutterstock.

Tip: Try searching for marbleized effect on Shutterstock to find colorful photos and vectors of this trend.

A pastel palette is rarely something to write home about, but these new, rebellious color schemes increase the saturation for sweet candy colors with an undeniable kick.

2018 Creative Trends – Punchy Pastels

Look for otherwise subtle colors complemented by a bright hue, like blue candy (+609%), or a juicy set of colors that reconsider the meaning of delicate. Blow off the dust from these traditional hues and don’t be afraid to up to the ante.

Find the perfect Punchy Pastel images and footage from Shutterstock.

Tip: To find bright and fun images of this trend, search for creative pastels or pastel minimalism.

A century after women gained the right to vote across much of the world, the battle for equality continues with fresh urgency. Searches for International Women’s Day are up 660%, while activism saw an increase of 540%.

2018 Creative Trends - A Global March

Women continue to band together in a global march that takes their voice to every stage. Their message reverberates through art, film, theater, and writing, across industries and within politics, as a daily reminder that there is still much to achieve.

Explore this trend through powerful images, footage, and music on Shutterstock.

Tip: Find the right music for the movement with Production genre tracks from Shutterstock.

Rounding out the aesthetic of similar natural trends like marble and agate, these plants call the desert home, belying their survivor nature. From wallpapers to prints to props, the popularity of the cactus (+261%) speaks to an obsession with desert culture and its new age tendencies. Try the cute side of cacti with sweet watercolor renderings, or evoke their edginess with saturated backgrounds or stark, authentic photography.

2018 Creative Trends – Cactus

Use this trend in your next project with images from Shutterstock.

Tip: Discover an array of illustrated styles for this trend by searching hand drawn cactus or watercolor cactus on Shutterstock.

As material design dominates UI, old art forms are being recreated for digital consumption. Traditional paper and fabric-centric crafts, like embroidery (+432%) and paper art (+130%), are finding new life as they’re reinterpreted for a new era. These tactile designs bring a much-needed sense of touch and texture to the web as their whimsical nature makes us forget the limits of screens and pixels.

2018 Creative Trends – Digital Crafts

Build something beautiful with digital craft images from Shutterstock.

Tip: Find the perfect images for this trend on Shutterstock with search terms origami, papercraft, or embroidery style.

Both spiritual and mathematical, these intricate patterns have their origins in diverse and disparate cultures. The symmetry of these styles make for a perfect backdrop, but it’s their ancient mystical nature that make them such compelling design elements.

2018 Creative Trends – Ancient Geometrics

It’s clear that these ancient geometrics are universally loved; searches for arabesque are up 8,536% – an astronomical increase and the largest we’ve seen this year – while guilloche is up 695%, and mandalas is up 632%.

Find a balance in your next project with images, footage, and music from Shutterstock.

Tip: Get psychedelic footage for your next project by searching for kaleidoscope on Shutterstock.

Once a curiosity and now reaching critical mass, searches for cryptocurrency are up 1,264%. As early players start to see returns, newcomers are excitedly envisioning the prospects of a digital economy. Expect peak conversation around this topic as every outlet covers it and seeks out ways to visualize its intangible nature.

Visualize this trend through cryptocurrency images from Shutterstock.

Tip: Stay ahead of this changing trend by searching for images of digital currency on Shutterstock.

From the highlight craze in makeup to the ironically retro vaporwave aesthetic, the 2018 holographic trend has notes of the glitzy ‘80s, a dash of sci-fi, and hint of nostalgia for a look that is undeniably and inescapably “now.”

2018 Creative Trends – Holographic Foil

Up 435% in searches, holographic’s chameleon palette of shimmering colors is a trend to watch because it works on so many levels – as high or low culture, as old or new, as playful or serious – and it’s always beautiful in application.

Explore an array of colors with holographic images and footage from Shutterstock.

Tip: Add nostalgic flair to your projects by searching for holographic patterns and textures on Shutterstock.

These are the fastest growing trends across 20 countries. Some reflect bigger trends, like the rise of the new minimalist trend loop design in Malaysia, or larger cultural events such as the Chinese Zodiac, which has dog trending in Brazil. Others mark more local curiosities, like jazz in Mexico and antiquity in Spain.

Discover each of these trends in our curated global collection.

2018 Creative Trends - Argentina Jazz Enthusiast Argentina
Jazz Enthusiast2018 Creative Trends - Australia Mathematical Curve Australia
Mathematical Curves2018 Creative Trends - Brazil Dog Brazil
Dog2018 Creative Trends – Canada Vintage Canada
Vintage2018 Creative Trends - Egypt Cactus Egypt
Cactus2018 Creative Trends - France Comics France
Comics2018 Creative Trends – Germany Family Values Germany
Family Values2018 Creative Trends – Nebula India
Nebula2018 Creative Trends – Autumnal Italy
Autumnal2018 Creative Trends – Japan Pink Circle Japan
Pink Circle2018 Creative Trends – Korea Floral Embroidery Korea
Floral Embroidery2018 Creative Trends – Malaysia Loop Design Malaysia
Loop Design2018 Creative Trends – Mexico Jazz Mexico
Jazz2018 Creative Trends – Poland The Cosmos Poland
The Cosmos2018 Creative Trends – Russian Federation Marble Russian Federation
Marble2018 Creative Trends – South Africa Cryptocurrency South Africa
Cryptocurrency2018 Creative Trends – Spain Antiquity Spain
Antiquity2018 Creative Trends – Turkey Grunge Turkey
Grunge2018 Creative Trends – UK Terrazzo United Kingdom
Terrazzo2018 Creative Trends – United States Waxy Monkey United States
Waxy Monkey