Everything Old is New Again, in Shutterstock’s Creative Trends Preview



The past takes center stage in new and interesting ways in Shutterstock’s creative trend preview.

Ready to try SMW+, our new on-demand streaming service for marketers? Start your free trial today to access exclusive content!

According to fictional ad giant Don Draper, nostalgia is delicate but potent. It’s a twinge in the heart more powerful than memory alone. And, according to Shutterstock’s 2019 creative trends preview, it’s going to be powering our design aesthetic in the New Year.

The stock image company’s elaborate infographic previews the trends we’ll be seeing in design in the year to come, and several of them are powered by our fond memories of the past. Among the highlights from their visually stunning report – which you can check out in its entirety here.

Zine Culture

Shutterstock is predicting a return to reminders of how “loud and lively design can be,” and the mention of zine culture is a prime example of this. For the uninitiated, zines are small-batch, self-circulated periodicals that are largely composed of repurposed images and characters. They’re predicting the rise of this aesthetic based on a 1376% increase in online searches for “contemporary art college” which, for all practical purposes, is what a zine is or could be.

Zine culture as a design aesthetic prizes rough edges and jarring visuals over the polish and smoothness that has come to define most design in the past several years. “Paper cutouts” and “noise and grain textures” power this trend, prioritizing expression over efficiency in its look.

Yesterday…and Its Vision of Tomorrow

What did we think the future was going to look like in the 1980’s? Those visions of neon lasers and light grids, scored with synthesized instrumentals, will be making a return via this year’s designs. Searches for images that evoke “synthwave” are up 717%, 676% for “retrowave,” and up 230% for “duotone.” Expect to see lots of bright pinks, blues, and purples, simple vector graphics, overlaid with synth-heavy audio.

Faithfulness to the prized aesthetics of the past will also show up in what Shutterstock has termed “80s opulence.” Gold chains and animal prints are the hallmarks of this theme, as indicated by spiking searches for “elegance pattern” (1060% increase), “chain print” (up 731%), and animal prints like snakeskin and leopard (up 157% and 161%, respectively). Sound busy? That’s the idea, but when done well, it can create an effect that the report calls “inexplicably harmonious.”

Rising Trends Borrow From Culture

Beyond the major trends predicted above, a number of rising trends were defined in the report. Drawing from other cultures, these aesthetics on the rise include:

  • Kawaii, a Japanese concept that prizes the cute, bright, and childlike;
  • Kalamkari, an Indian technique for painting and printing fabric with natural colors and inks;
  • Rococo, a late baroque style that prizes elegance, intricacy, and a more classical opulence.

It could also be said that the “everyday futurism,” another rising trend, borrows from the culture of gaming and tech. “From esports’ mass live-gaming events and virtual reality multiverses to consumer-level biometric scanning and the automation revolution,” Shutterstock notes as it highlights this look, “the world of tech is alight with imagination and excitement, and we get to watch it unfold.” Or, in this case, borrow from its look to inform our own designs.

The full report reveals more trends to watch, details their popularity by the numbers, and does so in bright colors and interactive graphics.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


Newsletter Subscription

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

Learn More

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