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Creative trends for 2021 look promising but what’s Shutterstock’s prediction?

Creative trends for 2021 look promising, but what are the real vibes? The Shutterstock 2021 Creative Trend Report might just have the answer.

In a globalized era, we take for granted the power that digital communication has granted. Not to mention our disregard for credibility and, or, different perspectives.

For good or for bad, we have seen action and people coming together because of digital communication. People being able to relate with each other now more than ever because of the closeness that the internet provides. Being united by a single cause. 

Thus, perhaps there is no better time to learn about all different realities, to see the world through the eyes of its citizens rather than just the media industry. A time for creators

With a network of more than one million contributors from all different countries of the world, Shutterstock is able to provide high-quality visuals that reflect the reality of all corners of the world through diverse perspectives.

It is a leader for businesses and creators to get licensed visual content. 

What is Shutterstock? 

Shutterstock is a global creative platform offering full-service solutions and high-quality visuals and audio content and tools to help creatives and brands tell their stories.

It is the market place helped businesses around the world; license photos, vectors, illustrations, videos, and music that they need for communication including marketing material. 

They are constantly innovating and finding fun ways to inform and inspire all creators around the world; from creative directors to bloggers and small business owners. And, unlike any other microstock platform, their core mission is to empower creativity through their high-quality content. 

They also enjoy a network of one million contributors which ensures that their brand always delivers really fresh campaigns and content that speak to the here and now. This not only allows them, but their clients as well, to stay relevant, relatable, and creative. 

In fact, Shutterstock has a content team in charge of analyzing each year’s visual trends and how they evolve through the year. This not only helps to provide insights about the type of content clients can use for the upcoming campaign or social posts.

And, essentially, allows both clients and themselves to share content that is not only eye-catching but also on-trend. 

“Our site is viewed by global users: not just the creatives, we also have social media managers and small business owners, and even journalists from all over the world in different countries. So our search data report is not just a reflection of what is going on in the creative industry, it’s also a reflection of cultural changes globally”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock

These trends mirror not just what is going on with society at the moment, but what would happen next. And, in a way, they allow businesses, creative or not, to enhance conversations with their communities.

Shutterstock 2021 creative trends report clue us into what visual demand currently looks like.

What images, videos, and visual aids are people looking for in order to tell the stories we read or news we consume? What are the realities we are exposed to? Is there a common denominator? How are people creating content? What gets them inspired? How can businesses relate to clients?

All these are questions that can be answered by analyzing the type of visuals we are consuming. Understanding not only what the audience is looking for, but why are they related to these type of visuals, can potentially reveal larger cultural shifts.

At first glance, what these trends truly reveal is a more colorful, brighter, sincere look to a new year

Surreal Faces

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021


Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

This trend is composed of current and translucent hues snaking metallic swirls, and foamy sprays of color that shape the landscape of these free-flowing textures.


Tie dye has not only become a staple of at-home fashion, but now is the new darling of digital design.

“Although not surprising, tie-dye has become one of the most interesting Creative Trends for 2021.” According to Flo Lau, Head of Creative at Shutterstock, Tie Die is expected to grow hugely in 2021 especially in the fashion world in particular.

tie dye data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Identity Unfiltered

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Representation matters. The past year has been eye-opening in a way that has shown the power and importance of representation. Thus, it is important and, perhaps encouraging, to know that brands, businesses, and people are taking action over it.

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Inner Life

inner life trends
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Eccentric Animation

animation data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

According to Flo, this trend has around 13,000% over year increase in terms of search.

Particularly in 2020, people being trapped at home and all video productions become more challenging. Animation and other forms of illustration have been a huge solution.

For one, not only is animation much cheaper than an entire set production, but it is an effective way to communicate a strong and clear message.

The Sublime

sublime data
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

Strings and Uplifting Playful

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

The Unexplored

“One of the most surprising, but not really because we knew it was coming,” admitted Flo.

Shutterstock Creative Trends Report 2021
Courtesy: Shutterstock Creative Trends 2021

“We have biodiversity: people trying to break out of their day-to-day social media and use media consumption and get back in nature and get an understanding of evolution. There is also a rise in mental health and people realizing its importance .”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock

Perhaps this trend is one of the most revealing ones.

It mirrors a combination of everything that happened in 2020 and, at the same time, it encapsulates the internal reaction that people are having. The societal reaction to the reality of 2020 and its uncertainty.

Maybe it comes as a surprise, but stock image relevance goes far beyond the media industry. It creates a connection between people from all over the globe and brings representation of everyone and every corner to light. It helps people connect with each other and bring attention to situations that matter.

At the same time, the fact that there is a wide range of contributors allows the platform to provide an unbiased representation of the different realities of all corners of the world. And the 2021 Shutterstock Creative Trend Report proves that.

“It is important for [clients] to see and understand what is happening in the world in order to communicate it effectively through their campaigns. Documenting different realities through images or videos, and capturing cultural and societal trends, is not only powerful but necessary”

Flo Lau, Creative Director at Shutterstock