Shutterstock released its annual Creative Trends Report today. Now in its seventh year, the report forecasts 2018’s biggest design influencers, as identified by the billions of customer searches within Shutterstock’s image collection, including customers from the advertising, film, and media industries.

The 3 major trends include:


Game of Thrones has dominated our screens for the past six years, so it makes sense that searches for mythical creatures and magical landscapes are going up. According to the report, the term ‘unicorn’ is up 297% and ‘mermaid’ is up 145% from the previous year. Last year, Starbucks picked up on the unicorn trend and launched their limited-edition Unicorn Frappuccino, which went viral on Instagram, with over 100,000 images uploaded to the social platform.

Orchestral music is becoming popular with marketers and creative professionals.

New Minimalism

Minimalism is no longer means clinical. New Minimalism uses vibrant colors and fluid styles to reimagine this artform. Searches for ‘continuous line’ increased 432% from the previous year. ‘Neon circle’ was searched for 387% more than the year prior.


After the huge success of shows such as Stranger Things, and continuity of the film series Star Wars, the sci-fi genre continues to triumph. Trends revolve around Space above all else. Searches for ‘solar’ are up 991% and interest in ‘astro’ has increased 671%, while the popularity of the unmistakable sci-fi ‘synthwave sound’ has increased 494% from the year prior.

Other notable trends:

Natural Luxury – Rising from the popularity of bohemia and new age aesthetics and practices, this style incorporates the swirls of marble (+416%) or the ripples of agate (+275) for a luxe effect that can be subtle or dramatic.

Punchy Pastels – Emerging from the Unicorn theme, these are candy colors with an undeniable kick. Look for otherwise subtle colors complemented by a bright hue, like blue candy (+609%), or a juicy set of colors that reconsider the meaning of delicate.

A Global March – A century after women gained the right to vote across much of the world, the battle for equality continues with fresh urgency. Searches for International Women’s Day are up 660%, while activism saw an increase of 540%.

Global March

Cactus – From wallpapers to prints to props, the popularity of the cactus (+261%) speaks to an obsession with desert culture and its new age tendencies.

Digital Crafts – Traditional paper and fabric-centric crafts, like embroidery (+432%) and paper art (+130%), are finding new life as they’re reinterpreted for a new era. These tactile designs bring a much-needed sense of touch and texture to the web as their whimsical nature makes us forget the limits of screens and pixels.

Ancient Geometrics – It’s clear that these ancient geometrics are universally loved; searches for arabesque are up 8,536% – an astronomical increase and the largest we’ve seen this year – while guilloche is up 695%, and mandalas is up 632%.

Cryptocurrency – Once a curiosity and now reaching critical mass, searches for cryptocurrency are up 1,264%. Expect peak conversation around this topic as every outlet covers it and seeks out ways to visualize its intangible nature.


Holographic (One to Watch) – Up 435% in searches, holographic’s chameleon palette of shimmering colors is a trend to watch because it works on so many levels –as high or low culture, as old or new, as playful or serious –and it’s always beautiful in application.

Tobias Matthews

Tobias Matthews


Writer at Fourth Source.