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3 major visual trends that capture life in 2018

Design trends are in constant flux, and can be as influenced by social, political and environmental factors as they are by the rest of the creative world. 

Thanks to exclusive research from Getty Images and iStock by Getty Images, we can bring you three fascinating visual trends that are very much of-the-moment this year, complete with reference boards packed with inspirational images. 

These trends are based on detailed analysis of over a billion searches and 400 million imagery downloads on the Getty Images website, as well as careful study of advertising trends and pop culture shifts by the experts at Getty. 

Read on to discover the three visual trends you should know about in 2018...

01. Conceptual Realism

A combination of evolving long-term visual trends, new technology, and the public's current scepticism to take things at face value has spawned a new visual expression: Conceptual Realism.

Given the widespread desire for authenticity, consumers increasingly want imagery that's grounded in something real and accessible. Aspirational, polished luxury no longer resonates: consumers want honest imperfections and DIY aesthetics.

As a result, imagery that looks 'real' rather than fantastical is gaining traction, even if the idea behind it is surreal and conceptual. People are de-personalised and become props, rather than emotional characters in their own right.

It's a fascinating visual interplay between authentic storytelling and artistic expression, that feels non-contrived while maintaining a sense of playfulness.

02. Second Renaissance

Design trends often move in cycles, and major art movements from the past can still have a strong influence on the creative practice of the future. This desire to repurpose and re-appropriate art history is the driving factor behind Getty's second visual trend, entitled Second Renaissance.

At the core of this trend are quiet, contemplative images informed by art history, which celebrate creative craftsmanship in an age where entry-level photography is more accessible than ever before.

By knowingly referencing the aesthetic of well-respected historical artworks, photographers find gravitas and credibility, while challenging stereotypes and reclaiming ownership of well-trodden stories, re-picturing icons in a more diverse, multicultural and modern context.

03. Masculinity Undone

In the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal and ensuing #MeToo campaign, conversations about 'toxic masculinity' have dominated the press - and creatives are exploring new visual directions to challenge long-established male stereotypes.

In the Masculinity Undone trend, imagery explores less prescriptive, more open visions of masculinity in an attempt to put a fresh twist on what it means to be male in 2018.

In a major step forward, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority has banned ads that perpetuate gender stereotypes, including men "trying and failing" to conduct "simple parental or household tasks." Part of the driving factor behind Masculinity Undone is a desire for a more complex, gentle and emotionally nuanced portrayal.

Creatives have an opportunity to discard dull and destructive male stereotypes - such as 'tough guy', 'rebel', 'buffoon', 'hero' and 'athlete' - in favour of authentic, empathetic storytelling, making room for vulnerability and diversity.

These images portray the softer, more sensitive and emotional side of men, manifested in various ways - a single dad caring for his baby; a tender embrace between same-sex partners; or a man exploring his feminine side.

You can explore images from each of the trends, Conceptual Realism, Second Renaissance and Masculinity Undone, or start your own search at Plus, for a limited time, new customers can save 12% on any product with code 12CBLOQNEW.

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Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.