Help Your Brand Stand Out From the Crowd With Shutterstock’s Creative Trends



Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

With an ever increasing need to capture audience attention, the use of imagery has evolved to require more striking, high-performing visual elements that can engage and influence behavior. Content marketers now need to create visual content as seamlessly as possible that supports their business on all social channels.

At #SMWLDN, Valentin von Vacano (International Copywriter & Social Media Manager, Shutterstock) educated audiences on Shutterstock Trends and how to use Shutterstock Editor and create visuals quickly to ensure they resonate with audiences.

Shutterstock currently has over 150,000,000 images on their platform with users downloading 5.5 images every second. Shutterstock has made the data that they have gathered about their audience available through Shuttertock’s Creative Trends.

Vacano showed exampled of four global trends that are currently capturing the world’s imagination.

  • White Texture – adds a 3D feel and are sharp, intricate, or reflective patterns found in nature.
  • Emojis – a global form of communication that transcends language.
  • Halftone – evoke newsprint, analog TV, and pop art. Beauty lies in the imperfection.
  • Head-Up Display – like JARVIS in Marvel’s Iron Man, a sleek dashboard style with numbers and measurements at-a-glance.

Cultural Trends

Shutterstock has noticed that users are thinking about the past, present, and future. Their is a sense of nostalgia, as well as uncertainty about the future. Vacano walked through some of the site’s most popular cultural trends.

  • Past (Nostalgia) – rework iconography of past decades, use crazy patterns, vintage designs, and childhood favorites (like Star Wars!)
  • Present (Reflection) – meditation, mindfulness, the importance of taking time to appreciate the moment
  • Future – Cybersecurity, the 4th Industrial Revolution, VR, and Ephemeral Internet

Design Trends

Vacano walked through some of the key design trends and showed an example on how to design your own. Nature and tech are currently the most popular design trends.


  • Organic Texture – rich and timeless patterns found in nature (ex. tree rings or marble swirls)
  • Tropical – feel good trend with vivid colors


  • Glitch – distorted images that represent the dark side of tech (ex. Ghost In The Shell, Mr. Robot)

  • Laser Cutting – art meets science, beautifully intricate patterns

Visual Trends Around The World

Shutterstock Creative Trends also shows the visual trends that are growing around the world based on image searches.

  • Brazil – Girl Power
  • UK – Blockchain
  • Germany – Tannenwald
  • Spain – Citrus
  • Poland – Food Pattern
  • Turkey – Serenity
  • India – Monsoon
  • Russia – Lace
  • Thailand – Cosplay
  • Malaysia – Ketupat
  • Vietnam – Women’s Day
  • South Korea – Dol Hareubang
  • Australia – Scandinavian Interior
  • Japan – Artificial Intelligence

Video & Social Trends

This year’s video were chosen by industry experts and reflect the changing nature of tech and the workplace.

  • Wanderlust
  • Immersive Technology
  • Mobile Office
  • Top View

While video trends focus on transportation, work, and technology, the most popular images on social media show off the extremes of nature and reflection.

  • Muted Palette
  • Reflection
  • Extreme Weather
  • Splash of Warmth

Take a deep dive into Shutterstock’s Creative Trends here and watch an overview of the Shutterstock editor below.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Watch keynote speaker Seth Godin

Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur, Seth Godin spoke at #SMWNYC. Watch his talk + hundreds of others on SMW Insider.

View Talk

Watch SMW Live

SMW Insider is a premium video platform that streams more than 300+ hours of talks, presentations, and interviews from leading industry experts.

Subscribe Now

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here