2019 Visual Trends Seeing the world through a creative lens

As designers and brands know, we live in a fast-paced, intensely visual age. Images are one of the most important ways brands connect with consumers, and that’s the reason visual fluency — the ability to see emerging visual trends and what they mean — is so important. The Adobe Stock Visual Trends report helps the creative community spot trends as they’re evolving, understand what they mean to consumers, and build on them for maximum impact. Here’s a peek at what we expect to see in 2019:

Creative Democracy

We’re no longer waiting for creatives to shape our visual worlds — instead, people are using technology to elevate and share their own unpolished, raw, authentic moments in full, vivid color. And brands are finding clever ways to harness this desire to create our own images. Diversity rules both in front of the lens and behind it. Visually, creative democracy is all about unstudied images, bright colors, diverse subjects, and video that moves people.

Each day 95 million photos are uploaded to Instagram, and 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook.

Natural Instincts

As more of our days are spent in the digital realm, we’re feeling increasingly distant from the physical world. This steady shift is leading more people to seek balance through nature. Consumers are also looking to brands to satisfy their spiritual needs, and designers are focusing on aspirational images with natural elements and celebrations of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

The Global Wellness Institute reports that the fastest growing portion of the $999 billion wellness and beauty industry is “clean beauty” — products that are ethical, sustainable, and transparent.

The NPD Group reports that nearly half of U.S. consumers actively seek natural ingredients in the products they choose, and retailers from Nordstrom to Sephora are giving more space to natural brands.

Disruptive Expression

People are ready to have their voices heard. Whether it’s in creative play or fierce political resistance, images of extreme self-expression resonate. Brands are tapping into this energy, borrowing the visual language of protest for shop windows and clothing lines. Even when there’s no political agenda, the new self-expression is all about inclusive, unapologetic, eye-catching visuals that cut through the noise.

Cultural institutions from the Museum of the City of New York to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History are collecting protest signs for future exhibits.

Brand Stand

Consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials, want more from brands than just products — they’re loyal to companies with stated values and a commitment to transparency. Brands will need to communicate social purpose around big issues such as social justice and conservation. In the visual realm, powerful representations of causes and popular issues on a global scale will make the biggest impact.

“Ninety-nine percent of people don’t dive — and probably never will. That’s why imagery is so important when it comes to ocean conservation. Our job is to take imagery that excites the world, to engage people with the most magical part of our planet — our underwater world — and through imagery get them supporting the fight to save it.”

— Richard Vevers, founder of The Ocean Agency

The innovative financial firm Aspiration created a program to help consumers match their day-to-day spending to their ethical beliefs.

Nearly half of millennials think CEOs themselves ought to take a stand on social issues.

Setting the scene for 2019.

Stay with us as we explore these emerging trends in depth throughout the year. We’ll trace their roots, explore how they touch our everyday lives, and give designers and brands the context they need to make them their own. We’ll also talk with Adobe Stock contributors who’ve already embraced them in their own work.

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