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Visual styles and themes that are set to scale in demand and appeal throughout 2023

Adobe Stock 2023 Annual Creative Trends Forecast predicts the global creative visual trends and themes – Psychic Waves, Real is Radical, Retro Active and Animals and Influencers – will dominate in demand and appeal in 2023

Adobe announced the Adobe Stock 2023 Annual Creative Trends Forecast, which showcases the trending visual styles and themes that are set to scale in demand and appeal throughout 2023.

For the 6th consecutive year, Adobe has analysed emerging visual cultural themes and major brand campaigns across a myriad of sectors – from the work of celebrated fashion designers to the creations of everyday users – and gathered stock industry data to identify the design trends and aesthetics that will dominate the digital space in the coming year.

This year’s Adobe report predicts four key creative themes spanning visual, design, and motion, that will significantly influence content across photography, videography, creative writing, social media platforms, blogs and more: ‘Psychic Waves,’ ‘Real is Radical,’ ‘Retro Active’ and ‘Animals and Influencers.’

These emerging design themes are expected to guide how the Creator Economy, which has grown to 303 million creators globally, will tap into their creativity to create digital content that resonates with their audiences in 2023.

“As we emerge from a time overshadowed by uncertainty related to the global pandemic, people crave content that feels familiar yet fresh, but also evokes feelings through authentic, inclusive and unfiltered experiences," said Brenda Milis, Principal of Consumer and Creative Insights at Adobe. “These trends are indicative of how creators are envisioning and shaping our world and using their platforms to share content that brings joy and happiness in their own unique styles to people globally.”

Here is a closer look at the four key Adobe Stock 2023 Creative Trends:

Psychic Waves

The post-pandemic shift towards prioritizing mental health and wellness is driving new ways of exploring spirituality, nature, and wellness. With 46% of Gen Z saying they are anxious and stressed, there is a need for the visual effect of Psychic Waves which includes calming gradients full of vibrant colours. This new trend is focused on creative authenticity as an outlet for expression, including escaping reality, through psychedelic gradients, vibrant colours and aesthetics that incorporate surrealist styles to convey experiences beyond the visible, tangible world.

Real is Radical

In combating highly curated and filtered content, the Real is Radical trend is a celebration of candid, unvarnished moments, experiences and realities. Brands are embracing campaigns featuring all races, genders, ages, abilities, and sizes — swapping out curated for candid moments. According to a recent Pinterest Body Neutrality report, there is a 36% “loving myself” searches and 32% “how to become more confident” searches. The trend has a major presence across social, brand campaigns, and new apps like BeReal and Locket. Ranging from rebellious and provocative to deeply vulnerable, Real is Radical visuals create powerful connections and inspire a sense of community across media channels and platforms.

Retro Active

Inspired by Gen Z creators evolving and experimenting with the aesthetics popular before they were born, the Retro Active trend focuses on exploring vintage styles and modernising them. Like Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X creators are exploring this resurgence, finding comfort and familiarity in the creative styles of the 90s and Y2K, such as retro skateboard scenes to candy-colour fashions, boom boxes and classic video game controllers. Though Gen Z creators are influential in developing these trends, Millennials still comprise a large portion of the Creator Economy, in fact, Millennials make up 42% of the Creator Economy, thus propelling these trends further.

Animals and Influencers

This trend relies on charismatic characters appealing to consumer affection and engagement evoked by charming and adorable creatures and virtual influencers. Whether it be a real-life furry friend or a charming anime avatar, charismatic creatures have proven themselves to be powerful tools that attract and retain consumer interest and engagement. As a result, they have become a dominating presence in brand messaging, proliferating across sectors in the form of anime, illustrations, photography, and 3D renders.

The feelings this trend evokes tie back to what consumers and creators alike crave, and that is to feel happiness and positivity as well as entertainment. Over the past two years, there was a 118% rise in global demand for anime. Since virtual influencers yield three times more engagement than humans (many find them more trustworthy and relatable), brands are leveraging them in more and more ads.

To identify trends growing in commercial relevance and consumer engagement, Adobe’s insights group studies all media types and platforms across commercial, consumer and market data that align around rising visual styles and themes. Adobe also works across internal data, such as customer research requests and search history, and conducts interviews across all sectors regularly to find out what their specific visual needs are for their industry and brands.

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