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2018: Reality Bites Back

January 10, 2018

10 Visual Trends To Watch For In The Year Of The Dog

How to sum up the visual trend predictions for the new year? How about partly sunny with a good chance that perfection is overrated. It looks like we're going to keep on keepin' it real and are celebrating, rather than trying to stamp out, all those idiosyncrasies that make life oh, so interesting. What happened? Well, 2017 happened. With the seemingly endless talk of "fakes", "lies" and "distortions" last year, trust, honesty and transparency have become more highly-prized. To many people, the cultural ideal of perfection has been rather destructive, inhumane and unachievable, and it is about time it was knocked of its pedestal. Authenticity is resonating.

In the coming year, we are on track to witness more of a human touch, a human fingerprint, on our visual culture. We are talking more about human fallacy and learning from human failures. We are placing more value on the true, on the raw and on the unfiltered. Fake, sterile studio images are being supplanted by shots taken in real-world settings, featuring "ordinary people" over professional models. Textures, imperfection, evidence of the human hand, is creeping into the work. We are balancing the digital world with more of the real world.

We are talking more about human fallacy and learning from human failures.

On the meta concept level, the #MeToo movement continues to ascend and it is too soon to predict what impact that will have on our culture. As we suggested in our 2017 New Year's trends article, the old order is being shaken up. There will continue to be more movements like #MeToo, #Time'sUp and #BlackLivesMatter as people seek to combat injustice and inequality in a changing economy, in a world where people are questioning neoliberalism and with a planet under threat.

Last year, we also talked about the cognitive dissonance of the idea that A.I. should seek to replace humans in jobs when we have rising populations and declining resources such as rare metals with which to make robots and computers. We think a countertrend to the mainstream is that the organic human is more realistic, pragmatic and functional than inorganic metal minds and bodies. We, for one, have never heard anyone we know clamoring to be replaced by a robot. We think this issue will continue to be explored in our ongoing cultural dialogues and we think there is an element of people wrestling with this very issue in the trends we're seeing for 2018.

And, Now, The Visual Trends

1. Peace & Quiet
Adobe Stock is forecasting a deeper appreciation for peacefulness and renewal. With today's "constant digital input"(1), we need the space and time to reflect and recharge. This may manifest itself as images that are peaceful, reflect solitude or connecting with nature, by white space, or by people seeking their own time to reflect and be inspired.

Peace & Quiet

2. Linking to The Past
We live in a time of increasing uncertainty. In such unstable times, we look to our past for sound footing and perspective. According to Adobe, creatives are drawing on history, "to preserve and celebrate what's precious from the past, and build bridges between old-world techniques and new world technologies."(2) We may see filters that make digital images look like film or approaches that seek to give new ideas context.

3. Direct Connect
As digital continues to creep into our daily lives, there is a increasing desire for good ole analog experiences. The 2018 Visual Trend Forecast from Adobe Stock suggests, "People are responding to anything that has to do with direct touch. In the visual world, it's all about showing connections, whether it's through images with richer textures, or people looking directly into the camera to establish a bold, personal moment with the viewer."(3) This includes telling relatable stories that connect people to the human condition.

4. Impact Images
By 2019, says Statista Research (4), there will be over 2.7 billion smart phone users. According to DepositPhotos in "Visual Trends 2018", "The accessibility of cameras is going to inspire people to not only document their daily life but also shine light on important events. Impact photography is concerned with the truth, these are images that are going to resonate with us all and highlight the events that will shape the coming years." (5) In a world increasingly concerned with the truth, citizen journalist and amateur photographers will be increasingly influential.

Impact Photography

5. Watch For Glitches
Move over pristine clean as James Victore's mantra, "Feck Perfuction", rises to the top in 2018 via glitches, splashes, ripping, cracking or any other way to disrupt the cold, the pristine or the mechanical. Watch for photo filters that bring the quirks of film, such as light leaks, to digital, and textures that suggest screenprinting or paper. Other trendy techniques include double exposures and color channel offsets that create dramatic 3D-looking effects. (6)

Glitches & Double Exposures
Move over pristine clean as James Victore's mantra, "Feck Perfuction", rises to the top in 2018

6. Stranger Things
Along the lines of keeping it real, many brands are continuing to ramp up the use of more compelling and relatable "ordinary people" for models. According to DepositPhotos Visual Trends 2018, "Gap, Eileen Fisher, and Modcloth have recently started using real people to promote their brands. It goes to show that we crave something more personal, and sometimes these perfect strangers are ideal examples of what we'd like to see reflected in the modeling industry." (7) Perhaps this is evidence of society being more accepting of the strange in all of us?

Stranger Things

7. Deadpan Depictions
Making a comeback from way back in the 1950s, deadpan photos are unfiltered and raw, the opposite of their glossy, glamorous and over-stylized cousins. Born out of social media snapshots and product reviews, this truth-telling approach to photography just shows things as they are, warts and all. (8)

8. Moving Images
Adding motion to graphics continues to gain mainstream steam. From explainer videos on corporate sites that simply highlight offerings to eye-catching GIFs, we'll see more video ahead. In their report, Visual Trends 2018, DepositPhotos says, "Many popular brands choose GIFs when it comes to content curation. Among them are Starbucks, Pepsi, Skittles, and others. There are many reasons why we still love moving images— they're fun and somehow mesmerizing. In 2018, we'll be seeing a lot of experimentation with photos and videos. Graphics with motion add another dimension to otherwise static images and combine current video trends with still photos." (9) Beyond GIFs, video and cinemagraphs, augmented reality is starting to gain a foothold and demonstrate real value to brands.

9. Collage Comeback
Collages are another way for creatives to make unique and unexpected images in 2018. "We're looking for new ways of self-expression through design, the opportunity to stand out and to communicate messages to audiences in a more unusual way. Cropping images, combining them in unexpected ways and playing around with different mediums and effects introduces something a little more unexpected from visual content," says Christina Golovach of DepositPhotos. (10) Another trend along these lines, excuse the pun, is the technique of hand-drawn elements over photos.(11)


10. Be Brave
We're seeing an increase in bold, brave color choices. Attention-grabbing bright colors are in for the new year. BTW, Pantone's color of the year is Ultra Violet 18-3838. (12) Need some extra wow? Add some metallic elements or gradient fills. Flat, Memphis-inspired colors from the 80s also seem to be making a comeback and will continue into 2018.

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1: Adobe Stock, Through the World's Eyes: The 2018 Visual Trend Forecast from Adobe Stock (Adobe Stock, November 21, 2017), accessed Jan 9, 2018

2: Adobe Stock, Through the World's Eyes: The 2018 Visual Trend Forecast from Adobe Stock

3: Adobe Stock, Through the World's Eyes: The 2018 Visual Trend Forecast from Adobe Stock.

4. Accessed Jan 9, 2018, https://www.statista.com/statistics/274774/forecast-of-mobile-phone-users-worldwide/.

5: Golovach, Christina, "Visual Trends 2018", DepositPhotos, accessed Jan 9, 2018,

6: Iveta, "Top Graphic Design Trends 2018: The Ultimate Guide", GraphicMama Blog, accessed Jan 9, 2018

7: Golovach, Christina, "Visual Trends 2018".

8: Golovach, Christina, "Visual Trends 2018".

9: Golovach, Christina,"Visual Trends 2018".

10: Golovach, Christina,"Visual Trends 2018".

11. Iveta, "Top Graphic Design Trends 2018: The Ultimate Guide".

12: Accessed on Jan 9, 2018, "Pantone Color Of The Year", https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2018. For the broader color palette https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2018-tools-for-designers.


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