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Getty Images Reveals the Defining Visual Trends for 2016

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London, United Kingdom
Launches annual forecast of visual trends that will influence advertising, design and visual communications

Getty Images has unveiled its highly anticipated visual trend forecast, an industry-leading publication of the key visual trends Getty Images predicts will influence design, advertising and brand communications in 2016.  Forecast by Getty Images’ global team of visual anthropologists and art directors, the trends address the social and cultural visual language of tomorrow and predict what imagery consumers will be most responsive to in the year ahead.

The trends are identified by drawing on a diverse set of resources to which Getty Images has unique access – expert analysis of imagery in advertising, local insight from Getty Images’ teams and customers worldwide and the buying trends from the approximately 400 million downloads from the Getty Images website each year – as well as the study of pop culture and the changing behaviours of consumers globally. In addition to providing critical insight for the company’s art directors, editors, photographers and videographers, the trends will inspire, educate and support designers and creatives across the globe.

The 2016 trends identified by Getty Images’ visual trend experts are: 

1. Divine Living: As brands start to focus on values, as we shift our focus to more meaningful consumption, a surge of concepts such as goodness, intention and interconnectedness play out in the visual landscape. In an overwhelming visual world, brands and storytellers are placing purpose at the core of their narratives and must now appeal to our sense of worth, inside and out.

2. Extended Human: Technology is changing the way we live our lives, share our experiences and take in our surroundings. This trend explores how tech is becoming an extension of ourselves and challenging our idea of what it means to be human, as technology optimizes our bodies, expands our capacity for memory and creativity, and affords total connectivity.

3. Outsider In: People that push the envelope and visuals that break with tradition are being more widely embraced, as popular taste becomes more daring. As we become increasingly inundated with mass-replicated imagery and aggregated articles, our appetite for a unique point of view and standout visuals increases. This trend looks at unconventional thinking and disruption coming from outsiders in the form of rebels, oddballs, non-conformists and anti-heroes.

4. Messthetics: A break away from predictability and a reaction to the perfection we often see in advertising imagery, the Messthetics approach to image making stands out in a busy market of sameness. The imagery is messy, grimy, sweaty, visceral, beautiful and ugly. It comes from our desire to break away from the sanitation and predictability of everyday life and revel in the physicality of human nature.

5. Silence vs. Noise: 2016 is set to be full of visual extremes, big contrasts and contradictions in styles, and Silence vs. Noise can be seen as a counterpoint to Messthetics. The imagery is simple and minimalistic, with the opportunity for customers to create messages that are similar – succinct and uncomplicated but beautifully executed to stand out against imagery that’s more frenetic. Visually it says ‘less is more’ in both composition and colour.  The pictures are often quiet and restrained and are highly effective in a visually overstimulated world where a calm approach creates a welcome contrast.

6. Surreality: Photographers are using new photo manipulation techniques to create playful and often surreal imagery. Sometimes looking like a 21st century version of 60’s psychedelia, the imagery is also influenced by dreams, the subconscious, and the original surrealist movement. In response to a decade dominated by authenticity and realism, we now have a huge appetite for the surreal and unexpected.


Andrew Saunders, Senior Vice President of Creative at Getty Images says: “The trends our Creative team identify are meant as a visual signpost for the coming 12 months and to generate debate and conversation around what’s driving culture and our visual language. The impact of social media on the consumer has been a particular driver in identifying some of the key visual trends for 2016. This years' predictions illustrate the contrasts faced by the modern consumer – the yearning for extremes, to be on the outside of the mainstream, but also seeking community and engagement for a wider social good.”

Pamela Grossman, Director of Visual Trends at Getty Images adds: “We always look forward to publishing our annual set of visual trends and never more so than this year - the future has never been more fascinating, and it is riveting to see where visual language will go. These are exciting and turbulent times for which consumers are seeking out partners on their journey, and increasingly looking to brands that deliver inspiration, surprise, and social or spiritual value. The 2016 visual trends capture where we are headed and which images will best tell the stories of tomorrow.  We are excited to see how these trends manifest in visual communications in the year ahead.” 

In an upcoming webinar, Pamela Grossman will discuss Getty Images’ bold new predictions about emerging visual trends, going in-depth to explore the aesthetic shifts that will change what we see in brand communications, advertising and design next year and beyond. Grossman will reveal how consumers are looking for ways to make meaningful product choices, demonstrate how audacity and irreverence are becoming mainstream and investigate whether authenticity is dying or evolving. The webinar will take place on December 9 at 4pm GMT and guests can join by registering here.