Getty Images 2018 trends: WGSN saw them coming

As 2018 gets underway, trends and predictions for the year ahead come in from brands across all industries.

For us at WGSN, it’s less about making immediate predictions and more about identifying our previous predictions coming to fruition.

Getty Images’ creative team have analysed over 1 billion searches and 400 million imagery downloads on GettyImages.com, studied advertising trends and examined key pop culture shifts.  The end result is a prediction of the three defining visual trends for 2018.

The overarching trends are ‘Second Renaissance’, ‘Conceptual Realism’ and ‘Masculinity Undone’. Elements of each trend can be found in WGSN’s S/S18 ‘The Vision’, our cornerstone, biannual report where our trend experts gather to discuss the political, artistic and socio-cultural movements that will shape the future. Produced two years in advance, our predictions on Getty’s trends for 2018 were made back in 2016.


Getty’s creative team have identified a ‘Second Renaissance’ in imagery: quiet and contemplative images informed by the past and art history.

With roots in craftsmanship, this trend also ties in with “reclaiming inherited forms of representation,” says Getty Images, particularly within the BAME community, where visuals are being used to  stereotypes and contribute to positively rewriting that narrative as well as addressing diversity and inclusion.

Getty highlights the Pepsi ad accused of co-opting the Black Lives Matter campaign as a mistake that brands are keen to learn from. As evidence, they highlight traditionally conservative Jigsaw’s new campaign, which celebrates immigration and embraces diversity.

Back in 2016, WGSN’s vision for S/S18 predicted ‘kinship’. The idea that, in an era of borders, art and design will seek to become borderless, propagating ideas to different parts of the world and creating stronger ties across the globe. For example, the report profiled artist Max Serradifalco whose project “All Colours of the World” helped to bridge the gap and embrace diversity. The project fused satellite imagery from different countries onto flags as a reminder that borders are arbitrary.

Max Serradifalco


Honey Long & Prue Stent, Soft Tissue // source: Prue Stent website

This visual trend centers around authenticity in a technological world. According to Getty Images, our trust in media is diminishing, so we crave imagery that looks real, even if the idea doesn’t.

This year, contemporary photographers ‘are working conceptually to create imagery that has a realistic approach,’ says Getty Images, even if it’s not entirely shot on camera. Getty highlight the work of artist Prue Stent, who found fame on Instagram, as an example of this. Her collaboration with Honey Long, ‘Soft Tissue’, presented distorted images of the female form with minimal technological effects.

‘As the dance of technology and artistry continues,’ says Getty Images ‘we will see a continued evolution of conceptual ideas merged with realism’.

At WGSN, we highlighted ‘slow futures’ as another key aspect of the vision for 2018, a major report that subscribers can access here. In an always-on, increasingly digitised world, WGSN predicted that we would begin to see the benefits of slowness, of a return to authenticity – but using that to spark creative thinking and new ideas.

Conceptual realism was explored within the ‘slow futures’ report through Adam Magyar, a photographer capturing slow footage of commuters at some of the world’s busiest subway stations. Time seems to stand still as he turns a momentary flash into a stretched-out moment in time, distorting the real and everyday.


2018 trends

Joshua Tolbert for Inu Inu

The media has typically been rife with gender stereotypes and presents very few male identities to truly aspire to. As identified by Getty Images – from the “incompetent dad” to the “sports ad hero” – male representation has been a series of damaging, one-dimensional stereotypes, setting unrealistic standards and showing a misunderstanding of masculinity.

But in 2018, this is set to change.

The modern definition of manhood is evolving – it’s less machismo and more emotions.

To illustrate, Getty Images highlights challenger brands that are disrupting the status quo, such as Axe’s “#IsItOkForGuys” campaign, which explores men questioning what defines masculinity through Google searches: “Is it OK to be skinny… to wear pink… to not like sports?”

It’s something that WGSN picked up on back in summer 2017 with our Beyond the Stereotype: Modern Masculinity report, thanks to a new group of men challenging the status quo. We highlighted the brands catering to and showing an understanding of the modern male consumer, from male beauty website Very Good Light to The Good Men Project, a website on the modern male offering “a glimpse of what enlightened masculinity might look like in the 21st century”. Covering sex and relationships, dads and families, sports and marriage, it now has over 5m monthly visitors.


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Want to discover The Vision for 2018? Subscribers can read more here.

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