Trend alert: the end of authenticity

In a world where it's becoming increasingly difficult to tell what's real and what's fake any more, how are you supposed to illustrate brands and products in a way that connects with your audience? Face the facts: authenticity is overrated, as iStock by Getty Images has identified with this new visual trend for the very opposite.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Reject the mundane and embrace the weird [Image: iStock]

Magazines, adverts and cinema have always presented us with an idealised version of reality, from airbrushed cover models to serving suggestions that look nothing like what ends up on your plate. And despite the old adage about the truthfulness of cameras, the best photographers have always known the tricks for making the camera lie like a snake oil salesman.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Surprise and delight with unexpected imagery [Image: iStock]

Now, though, it's harder than ever to tell what's for real. The rise of Photoshop means that we can never take photographs at face value, and with AI-powered technology becoming increasingly powerful, you can't even be sure that videos or audio recordings are the real deal. Social media bots and the 'fake news' phenomenon have ramped up our cynicism about any reporting we see. The world's in a mess and who's to say what's real and what's fake?

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Peculiar compositions are the perfect antidote to a depressing reality [Image: iStock]

As Hunter S. Thompson once said, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. And with things as weird as they are right now, the only sensible option is to reject dull authenticity and inject a little weirdness into your visual palette. It's an attitude that's cropped up over and over again in times of turmoil, from artistic movements such as Surrealism, Dada and Cubism, through to more social movements such as Psychedelia, New Romanticism and even Acid House; people pushing back against the status quo with new ideas, new visual language and new sounds.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Push back against the status quo with anti-authenticity [Image: iStock]

This notion's key to the current trend for eye-catching anti-authenticity, whether it's in stock photography, illustration or graphic design, and it's something you can find in abundance at iStock by Getty Images. Rather than opt for the safe and comforting fake reality that's so often brought in to signal authority and reliability, creative expression has recently been leaning in more playful and dream-like directions, mixing up retro stylings and futuristic invention to create a dazzling new super-saturated aesthetic.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Unnatural lighting and vivid colours are just part of this trend [Image: iStock]

You can see it everywhere from music videos to Instagram feeds through to films such as Boots Riley's surrealistic 'Sorry to Bother You' or anything by Wes Anderson. It's also visible in the latest illustration trends, which see creatives rejecting faithful representations of the world in favour of retro wave palettes, liquid effects, sparkling metallics and juddering glitches.

The only rules seem to be to avoid the mundane, relatable and the commonplace, and to instead embrace fantasy, nostalgia, dreams and surrealism, crazy colour schemes and challenging compositions. Inspire, amaze and unsettle; provoke a reaction rather than go down the safe route with a tried and tested campaign.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

Don't go down the safe route; inspire, amaze and unsettle [Image: iStock]

Whether you're creating imagery or searching for stock visuals that'll provide you with a look that transcends reality and transports the viewer away from the everyday, if only for a moment, this trend for anti-authenticity is one to watch out for. Go for those clashing palettes that you'd normally avoid, bring in unnatural poses and anachronistic props, raid the dressing-up box and create whole new worlds that people have never seen before. Make it weird, make it fantastic and make it exciting.

Trend alert: the end of authenticity

The incongruous and anachronistic are your friends [Image: iStock]

You can find all manner of strange and unusual imagery to spark the imagination at iStock by Getty Images. Get 15% off annual subscriptions by using the code ANNUAL15, or get 10% off credit packs with ISTOCK10 until Sept 30 2019.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.