We live in a world where we seek abstraction, but require symbols to share a common language. I dare say that we still need visual expressions to help our minds deal with the complexity and possibilities that advanced technology can provide us. How these expressions change reflects not only how we see reality, but how we plan to shape it as well.
When I first saw Shutterstock’s 2017 Creative Trends report, the Cultural Trends section immediately caught my eye.
I have a soft spot for anthropology (always wanted to study more than I did at the uni) and my college teacher taught me that there are always fascinating underlying causes for any such collection of insights.
Lucky me that Terrence Morash, Shutterstock’s Creative Director, took the time to share some thoughts on two subjects I wanted to find out more about.
One of the search topics that grew by the highest percentage (363%, to be exact) is “cybersecurity“. While this did not surprise me (I work in the industry myself), I was curios to find out how people tried to illustrate such abstract concepts and processes.
Terrence shared that:
With new technologies surfacing and growing more popular, we’ve seen Shutterstock contributors try to echo those trends with imagery to support them. Virtual reality and cyber security are examples of complex topics that can be difficult and complicated to represent in one image.
Our contributors pay close attention to what’s already out there and adapt their new imagery to reflect not only the topic at hand, but also what they might believe is a new or different way to showcase the concept.
All I can tell you is that the results are there and Shutterstock is filled with great explanations for concepts which might otherwise be difficult to grasp. I’ve been inspired more than once at work, while browsing through the gallery, to come up with a new idea for a blogpost or landing page.
In terms of design, the contemporary duality of human nature is focused on two key topics: nature and tech. With one foot in the our palpable reality and one foot in the digital/virtual other, we try to expand our possibilities to learn, discover and create.
I also wanted to ask Terrence how things have changed over the last few years in terms of how Shutterstock users search for creative resources. I was also curious about how how AI could transform this in the future. He told me that:
At Shutterstock, we’re also entertaining these same notions and exploring new ways to explore the collection of 100 million images. Last year, we introduced machine learning technology to offer an alternative way to search. We’re paying close attention to how, when, and why our customers would opt to search using our reverse-image search instead of a traditional text-based search.
In everything we do, the goal is not to replace, but rather to provide a variety and range of options for both content and the search experience on the site. Our contributors and our engineers are hard at work to consider what the stock industry looks like in 2017 and beyond.
Maybe this is just the young anthropology student in me speaking, but these are not just images or videos we’re using. They include powerful symbols which can unite and inspire.
There is a strong symbolism attached to this relationship between human and image and I trust that this will continue to hold true for years to come. Shutterstock’s Creative Reports helps us with some important pieces of the puzzle to figure out what we can create next.
Creativity is contagious, pass it on.