Adobe Visual Trends For 2020

Posted on 12/10/2019 by Brenda Milis | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Each year, my team at Adobe Stock spends hundreds of hours pouring over thousands of pages of research reports, global news, search data, fine art, and fashion imagery and more to bring you the coming year’s creative trends.

This year, we’re doing something a little bit different. For 2020, we’re excited to reveal not just four Visual Trends, but accompanying Motion Trends and Design Trends, too.

As the globalization of visual culture proceeds alongside the emergence and evolution of new technologies at a breakneck pace, creatives and brands must keep up with an ever-expanding world of aesthetic shifts. Beyond the aesthetic or simply visual, the creative trends we’ve identified are deeply connected to larger cultural, economic, and social movements that we’ve traced through a multitude of industries. No visual trend exists in a vacuum; instead, each is intimately intertwined with what’s going on in our larger culture, and in the microcultures fostered online.

We present these trends to help you stay ahead of the mainstream, plan your next campaign, or inspire your biggest project yet. Here’s a look at our four top visual trends for 2020.

The 2020 Visual Trends


All Ages Welcome:
Aging gracefully is not only possible—it’s the new normal. By 2020, the number of people aged 60 or older will outnumber children under 5 years old, according to the World Health Organization. What’s more, thanks to advances in healthcare, more older people are remaining healthy and active, participating in the workforce much longer than previous generations, which gives them major spending power.

Until recently, older subjects were typically portrayed in terms of needing help and slowing down. Even “active” representations of folks over 50 tended to be patronizing or condescending—think frail little old ladies dutifully power-walking in ads for hospital or financial institutions.

That’s changed, in a big way. Now, every major industry from finance and banking to travel and healthcare, has gotten the message that older people expect more authentic representation of their lives and aspirations. Those same industries have begun to represent older subjects as attractive, productive, and in their prime. The new imagery around age aims to construct visual narratives around how vital their lifestyles continue to be. Industries which previously ignored older consumers—like Fashion, Beauty and Wellness—now often include Baby Boomers in their campaign ads, knowing that healthy older viewers are interested in remaining stylish, well-groomed and fit.

Express Yourself: Thanks to social media, people are more public and open than ever when it comes to expressing their feelings. The human need to share a full, honest range of raw emotions is now mainstream.

In the market, we’ve seen that consumers are eager to see themselves represented authentically. That’s not new this year—it continues a trend we’ve observed for the last several years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. If anything, the demand for imagery that represents all the diverse facets of humanity and the realities of modern life has grown significantly stronger, and mainstream conversations about the meaning of diversity and inclusion that gained a new level of sophistication.

With Express Yourself, we’re focusing on the way people around the world are sharing more of their raw, honest life experiences online and in public—and demanding the same from brands, politicians, and other public figures. This trend is our way of describing the prevalent, new, visual form of “inclusivity.”

Makeup is Not a Mask: Cosmetics have historically been applied as a “mask” in an effort to attain a limited and linear ideal of beauty. Contemporary grooming focuses on celebrating a person’s unique looks and style, and color appears in expressive, artistic, and inclusive ways.

Culturally, we’re seeing a new understanding of what it means tobe a human being and what it means to connect not just to other people but to yourself. More than ever, the current generation of consumers is showing an interest in recognizing genuine feelings and celebrating unique personal histories. In beauty, that extends to cosmetics now being offered in a wider range of shades, with top brands like Glossier, Sephora, and Fenty Beauty embracing all ages, skin types, skin tones, natural eyebrows, and more.

One of the ways we’re seeing people celebrate the genuine isthrough expressive reimaginings of what “beauty” can be. The use of makeup as a tool for self-exploration and creative experimentation is one facet of that. One spin through Instagram will tell you that today’s makeup is not about “hiding flaws”—it’s about standing out.

In Makeup is Not a Mask, we’re honing in on this trend to describe how today’s personal style is breaking all the established rules of beauty in pursuit of authentic self expression.

From Me to We: Led by younger consumers, the movement toward people coming together to support causes large and small is scaling. The personal is now highly purposeful, and consumers of all ages—especially the Millennial and 4-through-24 Generation Z demographics—are exercising their increasing influence.

In the market, evidence of this trend is all around us. Brand powerhouse Procter & Gamble recently launched a unique new partnership with National Geographic called ACTIVATE. The project is a six-part documentary series, focused on the work of social and environmental activists around the world. P&G describe the series as “highlighting brand citizenship stories”around the world.

Continuing the momentum toward valuing experiences over things, a 2018 Harris study of US millennials found that 78% would rather spend money on a "desirable experience or event over buying something desirable".

When it comes to visual imagery, brands are finding that images presenting a strong sense of community and meaningful lifestyle choices resonate best, creating a quick connection between companies and conscious customers.

Preview: the 2020 Design Trends


We’ll be releasing a deeper dive into our Design Trends and Motion Trends later this year, but here’s a special preview of what’s to come.

Handmade Humanism: Artists craving a natural touch have created an emotionally approachable style that is notable through its simplicity and hand-crafted tone. We look to artful and DIY-influenced elements for a fresh and personal touch in a digital world.

Art Deco Updates: Striking, nostalgic visual elements reminiscent of the bold Art Deco age have been bubbling to the surface. In response to the pervasiveness of sleek, flat, minimal design, vintage styles are being reworked to incorporate futuristic details while retaining their decorative appeal. Geometric patterns, metallic elements, and sleek typography add elegance and elevate brands.

Semi-Surreal: Fantastical imagery brings a vibrant new perspective across all mediums. 2020 will show us many artists using new tools and techniques to create the impossible and alter our vision. These visuals inspire curiosity across global audiences.

Modern Goth: Artists are creating daring dichotomies between analog and digital elements while experimenting with the dark and dramatic. Futuristic materials, moody lighting, and striking typography make this edgy visual approach seem simultaneously old-world and visionary.

Preview: 2020 Motion Trends


Environmental Documentary: The discussion of climate, based on science and real policy ideas, will be a prominent part of many industries’ narratives in 2020. Brands and programs will be using a documentary film style to portray the challenges and possible future the world faces due to climate change.

Movement Response: Viewers now expect social media videos with exciting, interactive graphics. This new standard drives increased development of graphics that respond to movement, attracting eyeballs and increasing engagement.

Liquid Abstract: Liquid abstract forms are natural and organic, leading to freely-flowing shapes with powerful curves. This style contrasts with ubiquitous geometric and functional design, creating dynamic and fluid compositions.

Neon Glow: Moving neon elements create a dynamic energy. What began in cinema now appears far beyond the movie screen: Today, viewers see these elements in Netflix series, music videos, games, and social videos. Neon in motion assets adds a jolt of energy and glow, creating a retro feel that is simultaneously visionary, fun, and electric.

Adobe Stock Survey Results


Adobe is expanding its trend-watching program in 2020 as a result of surveying 1,000+ marketers, creatives and IT administrators across the globe to uncover their biggest content challenges, and results showed:
  • The majority (78%) of creatives are struggling today more than ever before to stay relevant to customers.
  • 61% of stock content users have trouble finding assets that don’t bring unwanted controversy.
  • 78% of creatives said they want stock assets to incorporate interactive design techniques.
    Coming up with initial design ideas (6.4 hours), searching for stock content (5.0) and re-applying edits or retouching (4.7 hours) were the top three tasks designers spend the most time on each week.
  • 74% of creatives rely on stock content providers to do their jobs and 87% agree stock content can serve a bigger variety of creative projects today than it could five years ago.


Copyright © 2019 Brenda Milis. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

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