Through the World’s Eyes: The 2018 Visual Trend Forecast from Adobe Stock

With 2018 just around the corner, the team at Adobe Stock is looking ahead. We’ve been tracking the visual conversation around the world, from shows and galleries, to brand campaigns, and our own stock collection, to put together a list of the biggest visual trends to watch in the coming year.

Our trend forecast is designed to give brands and artists a window into what’s drawing consumers’ attention in a fast-changing world. “As an artist, especially, it’s easy to feel isolated in your work. Trends can give you confidence, and data, about where interest is growing and why,” explains Brenda Milis, Principal of Creative Services and Visual Trends at Adobe. “For artists and brands alike, trends are a critical tool. They’re about more than what people are enjoying or fascinated by at the moment. They’re a look at where we are as a culture, and as a world, so you can really understand what makes an image resonate.”

Here’s a first peek at the trends we predict for 2018:

Silence and Solitude

As we begin a new year, we’re focusing on the importance of renewal and reflection. In our world of overwhelming and constant digital input, research suggests that silence is one of the least appreciated productivity tools. But the incessant buzz of the everyday is only intensifying our desire for peace and solitude. To consider how this trend is impacting the visual landscape, we’ll explore images that answer our longing for quiet and contemplation, and we’ll talk to artists who draw creative inspiration from solitude.


See images of Silence and Solitude from Adobe Stock.

The Fluid Self

The very idea of identity is shifting, and artists are working to represent the new ways we understand ourselves. “Identity is so much less permanent and stable than it used to be,” Brenda explains. “Just consider the fact that Facebook has 71 gender options now. There are endless permutations of individual identity. A few years ago, people were talking about race or ethnicity, then body type, abilities, and age. Now we’re looking at the fluid self—identity as a vast and ever-changing range of ideas that should all be celebrated.” As we examine this trend, we’ll consider how brands are adapting to emerging definitions of the self, and we’ll talk to artists whose work is helping fill some of the biggest gaps in representation.


See images of The Fluid Self on Adobe Stock.


Travel and technology are making the world a smaller place, turning us into one interconnected, global village. People are prioritising exploration and experiences over material possessions, blurring the lines between business and adventure when they travel for work, and exposing a yearning for authentic experiences. Brands are trying to keep up, hoping to reach customers as both local and global citizens. As we consider this trend, we’ll explore how artists and brands are embracing a mosaic of cultural experiences, and addressing consumers’ deepening global consciousness.


See images of Multilocalism on Adobe Stock.

Creative Reality

Unsettled moments always leave their mark on the art world. “We’re living in a time when there’s so much uncertainty, so much is in flux. Many people are becoming politically active, but there’s also a type of creativity that envisions escape,” explains Brenda. “We’re seeing idealised, alternate worlds—they’re lush, tropical, almost utopic. There’s a reverence for the natural world, but with an intensity, an almost psychedelic twist. These artists are asking us to consider what is beautiful, and what is alive.” As we dive into this trend, we’ll talk to the artists creating fantasy worlds of eccentric textures and hyper-sensorial experiences, blending nature and the human imagination.


See images of Creative Reality on Adobe Stock.

History and Memory

In uncertain times, we look to the past for grounding and meaning. We’re watching as a growing group of artists and brands draw inspiration from classic art, work to preserve and celebrate what’s precious from the past, and build bridges between old-world techniques and new world technologies. We’ll talk to artists about the renewed interest in history as inspiration, and how they combine old and new to join this cultural conversation.


See more images of History and Memory on Adobe Stock.

Touch and Tactility

Our days are increasingly shaped by screens and devices rather than real-world, tactile interactions. “To make up for this loss, we’re seeing an incredible push from artists toward literal connection, actual touch, and being in the same room with someone,” says Brenda. “It’s everywhere—think of the trend toward woven sneakers. It’s an invitation for a sensory experience. 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.” We’ll look at images that invite us to connect, and talk to artists about capturing texture and touch in their images.


See images of Touch and Tactility on Adobe Stock.

Join Us as We Unpack 2018

Follow us on the Creative Cloud Blog throughout 2018 as we look more deeply at each of these trends, consider the bigger global context in which they’re unfolding, and talk to the stock creators and designers who are shaping our visual world.

Hero image by Hayden Williams/Stocksy/Adobe Stock.