Depicting the Compassionate Collective: building a better world together

Illustration of a child sitting on adults shoulders with their arms spread out facing a crowd of people with signs.

Image source: Adobe Stock/rob z.

By Brenda Milis

Posted on 06-14-2021

For all our worries about bowling alone, humankind is remarkably adept at reinventing how we understand communities and express a shared sense of value, identity, and care. The rise of the industrial factory ushered in the workplace union and labor movements. Women entering the workforce changed how we approach childcare, education, and cooking. The rise of the internet fundamentally transformed how we communicate and share information globally. The Adobe Stock team found themes of transformation, resilience, and community emerging again and again as we researched and identified this year’s overarching Creative Trends. Throughout the creative industries, we found artists, designers, and marketers meditating on the idea of mutual support and reinvention.

Adobe Stock’s visual trend Compassionate Collective is about the reinvention of who we are and how we share this world in 2021. It centers communities and the strong emotional connections we forge together as a part of them. It is about the ways our day-to-day lives are rooted in dozens of enriching and sustaining communities, and how people worldwide are engaging with their networks with renewed empathy, zeal, and compassion.

Compassionate Collective asks us to celebrate not only the communities immediately surrounding us, such as families and friends, but also the wider social fabric that envelops us. It is a visual trend that centers our neighbors, coworkers, volunteers, churches, local businesses, and gardens which, like family, are central to human flourishing. Adobe Stock Contributors can tap into this trend by producing evocative, authentic, community-centered imagery, while marketers are finding many uses for it in their campaigns.

Communities are stepping up

While the headlines we read remind us that there is no shortage of global crises, often away from the spotlight are the grassroots communities standing up to meet these challenges and fill a leadership void. These movements are rooted in local activism and focus on addressing specific issues in front of them — and imagery that accurately depicts this type of activism can be especially potent right now in the right brand campaigns.

In New York, which is hit hard by food insecurity, local activists are organizing community fridges that help redistribute resources on a micro-level, reminding us that hunger can be right down the block and its solution can be in your own fridge. Adobe is partnering with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and The Ocean Agency on a global awareness campaign called Ocean League aimed at raising awareness and rally support for ocean conservation and influencing climate change policy.

Compassionate Collective is a visual trend that centers the work of organizations and movements like these, among others, and how they remind us that we are not powerless before these struggles. This trend is rooted in a love for our planet and shared humanity, and highlights images that depict community-based volunteer work, like neighborhood trash removal, home building, food pantries, and donation drives.

Credit: Left Adobe Stock/Wavebreak Media Right: Adobe Stock/Hero Images.

Living and working together

Whether it is choosing to live with roommates long after college or moving into an intergenerational household, cohabiting is on the rise.

Credit: Adobe Stock/Hero Images.

Part economic necessity, part lifestyle choice, and undeniably accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are increasingly choosing to live and work in spaces centered around intentional community groups. In China, architects have designed a wave of new co-living spaces which are built around the idea that communal living can be liberating, sustainable, and enriching. Organizations like The Collective advocate for co-living as the most eco-friendly and ethical way to live in an increasingly urbanized world.

Credit: Adobe Stock/Hero Images.

This sense of living and working together with purpose and awareness, as opposed to simply by convenience or necessity, is at the core of Compassionate Collective. To tap into this, in your productions or campaigns, consider including images that show daily rituals of how people share chores like homework, activities like knitting, or exercises like going for a run.

Especially after a year with more time to think about who we are and what matters to us, Compassionate Collective also depicts people engaging in collective activities that nourish the mind and body like creating art together or outdoor yoga.

Credit: Adobe Stock/Trevor Adeline/Caia Image.

Changing the conversation

Over the last few years, some of the greatest shifts in society have been led by protests and collective action. Movements, such as Black Lives Matter, are responses to national and global crises that are organized along local, decentralized lines that center local communities and grassroots activism.

Brands have been paying attention. Before, many CEOs and other leaders may have steered clear of addressing hot-button issues, but they are realizing today’s audiences see consumer choice as an extension of their ethical concerns. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s, a wildly beloved company with a long history of corporate activism, worked with black and brown advocacy groups such as Colors of Change and the NAACP to take a firm and unambiguous stance on racial justice.

Compassionate Collective responds to this sense of personal responsibility meeting collective needs: it is a trend that reminds us that in every mass demonstration are individuals guided by an urgent need to address injustice where they see it. Social media has enabled a whole new kind of relationship with activism, where people can distribute information, resources, and guides to collective action on Facebook walls, Instagram stories, or Twitter feeds. Compassionate Collective includes social media templates for training volunteers and donation graphics.

Credit Left: Adobe Stock/paul_craft, Right: Adobe Stock/Aleksandra Jankovic/Stocksy.

Highlight the helpers

Especially after the last year, it can be hard to stay optimistic in the face of the problems ahead of us. The pace of progress can feel glacial.

But as more companies endeavor to do more good in the world, the Compassionate Collective visual trend reminds us that many are doing the work to center the action over the problem. Visuals like these help us share a vision of empathy, community, and moral strength. To paraphrase Mr. Rogers: we can use our visuals to highlight the helpers.

Explore the curated gallery on Adobe Stock: Compassionate Collective.

Topics: Creativity, Insights & Inspiration, Trends & Research, Creative Inspiration & Trends, Illustration, Photography, Media & Entertainment, Creative Cloud,

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