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The metaverse, psychedelic art, and Y2K aesthetics: experts highlight 2022 creative trends

January 11, 2022

Depositphotos, the international content platform, recently released their annual creative trends forecast, ‘Creative Trends 2022: Merging the future and the past’. Together with creative experts from around the world - including 99designs by Vista, We Are Social, Dogstudio, Mubert Inc, Froyo Tam (Y2K Aesthetic Institute), Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman from Interwoven Design Group, David Wehmeyer, and Synchrodogs - they examine styles, themes and processes that will influence creative communication, giving insight into what brands and content creators can expect this year.

Merging the future and the past: a general overview

The metaverse and total immersion will be key directions in creative communication. With the help of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, digital spaces will become even more realistic. Well thought-out 3D elements and motion graphics will take interactivity to a whole new level, and create an even greater presence through high-quality audio-visual and tactile interaction. AI-generated music evolves rapidly, allowing brands and creators to provide their audience with a hyper-personalized experience. Background tracks in creative projects, websites and apps will adapt to the taste or mood of the user.

At the same time, playful and bold motifs of the 70s, and experiments with psychedelic art in the digital sphere will gain popularity again. In design and photography, nostalgia for the 2000s encourages the use of pastel color palettes, retro-futuristic motifs with glossy effects and film-like processing.

2022 is the year of contrast, where the future stands side by side with the past. The two-sided nature of everything is not rocket science, but it's a powerful tool in the creative's hands. To be inspired for stand out projects take a closer look at the 2022 trends in the video below.

The metaverse

In 2022, digital spaces will acquire an even more realistic look with the help of AR and VR technology. Designers will opt for well-thought-out 3D elements and motion graphics that bring a brand new level of interactivity. To make audiences feel even more present, creators will amplify their projects with ambient music and immersive sound effects.

We have collected data from the Depositphotos library that shows an increase in user demand for certain subject queries. Search requests for "immersive reality" and "office avatars" have grown by 275% and 230% respectively, compared to the previous year.

Psychedelic art

This year, playful and bold motifs of the 70s will resonate with content creators worldwide. The desire to escape monotonous reality, captivate audiences and the accessibility of graphic software will foster experiments with psychedelic art in the digital realm. Holographic and grainy backgrounds, complex abstractions, a rich mix of bright or highly contrasting colors, and different interpretations of psychedelic line art will appear in graphic design.

According to the study, queries for "kaleidoscopic structure", "vivid colors" and "70s" are up 600%, 182% and 46% respectively.

AI-generated music

AI has been standing behind most of our online interactions with music for the last couple of years. It influenced the way we consume content by simplifying decision-making and providing recommendations based on our search history, mood or taste.

In the near future, AI will significantly impact content production as well. Brands and creators will get a chance to provide hyper-personalized experiences to their audiences, as AI-generated music will become more cost and time-effective. Background tracks on websites or apps will be tailored to fit a user's taste or mood. Creative projects, campaigns, and ads will often feature custom soundtracks, creating a more interactive reality.

Y2K aesthetic

To help the millennials and Gen Zs get new experiences and positive emotions, brands and creators will turn to Y2K aesthetics. This universal nostalgia encourages content creators to use pastel color palettes that include pink, yellow, green and blue. Design and photography projects will acquire retrofuturistic vibes with shiny features or film-like post-production, and find their way from blogger social media accounts to brand campaigns and ads.

The queries "pastel pink background", "positive emotions" and "childhood and adolescence" grew by 205%, 133% and 100%, respectively.

Science, not fiction

Extraterrestrial shapes and forms, illustrations of superintelligent robots and space travel equipment, as well as dark shades and metallic textures will be used to provide creative projects with new dimension. In addition to inciting visual interest, designs will make audiences wonder what the future holds for us, and what can be done today for a better tomorrow.

Acts of self-love

In 2022, brands will revise their tone of voice and imagery to be more supportive and loving of their audience. Photographers will opt for simpler compositions, minimalist color solutions, and authentic environments, revealing the real context of products, services, or events. Such an approach will not only help brands and content creators gain more trust, but also serve a bigger mission of cultivating a healthier and happier society.

The request for "candid faces" has grown by a whopping 383%.

The art of scrollytelling

In order to attract an audience’s attention, creatives are urged to invent new formats. They are a captivating blend of multimedia such as videos, animation, and sound effects in website design. Versatile elements — from asymmetrical layouts and parallax scrolling, to oversized typography and 3D motion graphics—will come in handy for content creators in the months to come. To add dynamism and create an even more immersive experience, designers will opt for website hero videos, captivating music tracks, and sound effects.

Immersive everything

3D ads, AR filters, and shoppable lenses allow everyone with a smartphone to closely interact with, test, or customize a product before making a purchase online. Brands aiming to go beyond social media can give immersive, digital out-of-home campaigns a try. Along with 3D animation and motion graphics, techniques such as forced perspective create 3D illusions that fascinate today’s consumers.

One of the most popular queries in the Depositphotos library - "AR logo" - grew by 742%.


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