The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, racial tensions, and uncertainty the world experienced in 2020 all influence the creative trends shaping 2021.
“Each trend carries with it some part of the atypical year we had,” says Flo Lau, associate creative director at Shutterstock. “Some illustrate creators trying to find ways to express creativity and produce content during lockdown, some highlight the beauty of inclusivity and uncertainty, and some evoke the hope, positivity, and escapism we yearn for.”
Lau examines 10 trends in graphic design, photography, footage, and music from Shutterstock’s 2021 Creative Trends report:
1. Surreal faces. Inspired by Picasso and surrealism, this is a combination of abstract attributes and reality that focuses on facial features in an abstract and minimalist style. It reflects the need for self-expression.
2. Inkscapes, or stunning images used in backgrounds featuring free-flowing textures. These represent “beauty and imperfections, and can seem chaotic at times,” Lau says.
3. Tie-dye brings back memories of childhood and is becoming a big digital design trend because of the unique and distinctive results.
4. Identity unfiltered. This is a photographic trend that focuses on authentic and candid imagery of people captured through portraits.
“The goal is to highlight all walks of life, and it covers the entire spectrum of beauty across the world,” Lau says.
5. Inner life, or a glimpse at how people spend their time “refreshing and refueling,” such as new habits, self-care, or hobbies.
6. Eccentric animation. These whimsical animations feature “playful, poppy colors and shapes” that add flashiness to video and interject fun.
These animations don’t require large crews or models and can be done by one person with talent and a computer, she says.
7. Cinematic shots of the outdoor world, such as majestic mountains, foggy coastlines, or waves crashing. “The fact that there are no people in the shot is a reflection of the pandemic,” Lau says.
8. Strings add a classical sound to a video or combine with a drum beat to create a more modern mashup.
9. Uplifting and playful music adds freshness and can act as a counterbalance to depressing circumstances.
10. The unexplored. People seek mysterious content that visually represents what we don’t know.
“We know so much, but we also know so little,” Lau says. “There are many unanswered questions about evolution, our own body and mind, and space.”
Lau addressed the CUNA Idea Expo.