State of stock: Navigating the impact of COVID-19 and social movement on visual culture

Colorized woman laying down.

Image source: Adobe Stock/Josephine Rais.

While a degree of controlled chaos has always been part of the creative process, the events of 2020 have brought forth momentous levels of change and challenges to creatives across the globe.

To better understand how this ever-changing environment impacts the creative community, we surveyed 600 global creatives in July 2020.

We uncovered that while creators do feel challenged to create in today’s environment, they are rising to the occasion by doing what they do best. They are getting creative—even from home—and stock art is part of their solution.

State of Creativity statistics

An environment more challenging than ever

Aside from the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are also in the midst of a social justice movement, and it, too, is impacting creators. The one thing 9 in 10 creators have been able to count on during this time? Uncertainty, the study finds.

Our current environment is also impacting business overall, which is adding significant pressure on teams as well. Our research finds that creators are feeling pressured to do more with less, and most have no expectations that things will return to normal through the remainder of 2020.

Evolving at the speed of culture

As visual trends and culture continue to morph, creators know they must evolve and keep up. They feel they have a responsibility to develop authentic campaigns that reflect the realities of society today.

Our research found that 76 percent agree that it is harder to navigate rapidly evolving trends in visual culture and topics today than it was six months ago.

Additionally, 74 percent say finding stock content that resonates with the audiences of today is a challenge and 89 percent want diverse and inclusive stock collections.

Adapt, elevate, overcome

There is a key shift towards creating campaigns that are timelier and more relevant. In order to adapt, creators are changing not just what they create, but also how they create.

Creative teams have become accustomed to unexpected changes in creative direction. Ideas must now be structured with room to adjust; 41 percent have changed how they create to be prepared to quickly pivot or completely change creative direction. While this can mean quickly pivoting their creative strategy to adapt to unforeseen circumstances or major events shaping society, creators agree that 2020 has left them inspired.

Our path forward, together

At Adobe, we have always believed that stock represents creatives helping other creatives. The challenges of this year make this point more resonant than ever. We strive to be your creative partner and help where you need it most, by providing a “world-class collection” that creates time- and money-saving efficiencies, without compromise. The responsibility of our collection is to provide more diversity and inclusive stock collections, an alternative to custom productions, access to emerging aesthetic trends, and culturally relevant regional content from around the world—all created with a contemporary, authentic approach that reflects life today for your brand and campaign needs.

The role stock plays in the future of visual fluency and cultural relevance is critical, especially as creatives continue to navigate an uncertain path ahead. At Adobe, we are committed to providing quality content that, rises to the moment, and meets your creative needs. And for our creative community, we will continue to provide guidance amid a rapidly evolving visual landscape.