25 January 2023

7 creative trends you need to know about in 2023

Whether you're an artist, designer, photographer or YouTuber, it's vital to be aware of the latest creative trends. That doesn't mean you have to slavishly ape them, of course. But you need to know what's going on in general, lest your content starts to seem dated, out of step, or even inappropriate to your audience in ways you might not have anticipated.


In a fast-moving and chaotic world, however, creative trends are changing faster than ever. So how do you keep track? That's where Depositphotos comes in. As an international content platform, they have a birds-eye view of the latest global trends. And that makes their annual trends forecast an invaluable read for content creators everywhere.

A ton of work goes into compiling this report, explains Maria Sibirtseva, content team lead at Depositphotos. "We trend-hunt all year round," she says. "We start with research, speak to the global creative community, pull out data from our 250 million-file library, and analyse statistics. We also collaborate with industry professionals who share their expert opinion and advice on what ideas, aesthetics, and movements will dominate creative communication next year."


The latter is well worth checking out, as it contains real-world examples of each trend in action, with both video and audio collections reflecting the broad array of content types Depositphotos has to offer. You'll also find expert opinions on each trend from artist Taysa Jorge, designer Núria Vila, stylist and content creator Thalia Castro-Vega, design studios Nohlab and Monga D, photographer Alexander Ladanivskyy, and Nicola Palmarini, director of the UK's National Innovation Centre for Ageing. In the meantime, here's our summary of the seven trends in the 2023 report.

1. Anime thrill

Japanese anime has long had a small and passionate following within the creative professions. But the Depositphotos report predicts that this will increasingly become mainstream throughout the next 12 months.


This is partly due to nostalgia for the early 2000s when exotic phenomena such as Pokemon first blew up in the West. But it's also been sparked by the increasing globalisation of streaming services, whereby European and American audiences can access previously hard-to-find Asian content at the touch of a button.


The report points to the use of anime aesthetics by huge brands such as Adidas and Acura as a sign of things to come – not least because the message of positivity that pervades anime is much needed in today's world.


And it encourages content creators everywhere to take inspiration from anime to grow their creative skills in 2023: "learn to invent hyperbolic characters, think through symbolic elements to include in storylines, run anime photoshoots, or experiment with costumes, whether drawn or stylised. With all the possibilities the anime aesthetic offers, this year is expected to be full of dynamic, artistic, and attention-grabbing projects."

2. Back to the Wild

With Covid travel restrictions now pretty much a thing of the past, 2023 looks set to be the year when travel makes a big comeback. And the Depositphotos report predicts that this will have a major influence on content creation across the board. Yet that doesn't mean things will simply go back to how they were in 2019.


Right now, the global outlook towards travel is shifting toward more responsible, sustainable and meaningful experiences. "This has been reflected through Gorpcore colours, the general enthusiasm for the outdoors, and Yvon Chouinard's decision to give away Patagonia to fight the climate crisis," it notes. [For the uninitiated, Gorpcore describes the convergence of outdoor labels and metropolitan style and derives from the phrase 'good ol' raisins and peanuts'.]


Consequently, the report forecasts 2023 will see "more eco-friendly and rewilding initiatives, a broader usage of visual techniques that feature nature-inspired colours, as well as hiking and camping aesthetics; all of this reinforced by messages that incite us to take action today."

3. A Wonderful Age

Despite all the problems facing the world, the fact remains that humanity overall is thriving, and people are living longer, not just in the West but across the whole globe. That means one in six people in the world will be 60 or over by 2030. And that means that a creative profession that's traditionally focused most of its attention on the young is starting to reorient its approach.


Part of that has been a shift toward using older people more in illustration, photography and video-based campaigns. But the Depositphotos report warns that this has to be done carefully, lest you alienate the very audiences you're trying to attract.


"Visuals should go beyond stocky concepts of cheerful seniors smiling for the camera or playing with grandchildren," it explains. "Authentic imagery will showcase various activities in which boomers or early Gen Xers throw parties, go out with friends, enjoy themselves, experiment with their appearances, and start new careers. This way, brands and content creators can also become more relatable and loyal to older generations."

4. Ethereal world

The world of the 2020s has been anything but predictable, and at the start of 2023, we're facing a future that's more uncertain than ever. So escapism is increasingly welcome, and it's no wonder that ethereal, experimental and surreal approaches to art, photography and film are becoming increasingly popular.


The Depositphotos report predicts that this shift will become further heightened throughout 2023. "Drawing inspiration from 20th-century magical realism, content creators will turn to hazy and blurry effects, deep shadows, and compelling compositions in their works," it states. "Experimental or creative editing and post-processing will be present in photography and videos more often; all in order to help viewers get lost in the dream-like aesthetic and question, 'Is what I see real?'"


It's important, of course, not to go too crazy: audiences will react strongly against anything perceived as self-indulgent. But in general, the world is ready for a little more imaginative work, so run with it and have some fun!

5. Eye on sustainability

With worry about climate change mounting, there's been a big shift in the 2020s from paying lip service to the problem to taking practical, effective action. No longer can we outsource sustainability, either to governments or the market; we all have our part to play, and that includes the creative profession.


The report acknowledges how this is already, to an extent, happening. "To make a difference, brands and content creators introduce green and zero-impact ideas to every process. They often draw inspiration from nature and collaborate with engineers or scientists to develop more effective and appealing solutions."


Aesthetics increasingly reflect this, too, with "deep monochrome colours, classic or condensed fonts, and minimalist textures", highlighting the efforts creatives are making. But they should be the icing on the cake, of course, not the cake itself; nowadays, no one wants to be accused of 'greenwashing'.

6. Wellness upgrade

One of the more welcome developments of the current decade is that society is increasingly focused on both physical and mental health. And the wellness industry has expanded massively as a result, from digital self-care to 'calmtainment' such as the Netflix animated series Headspace Guide to Meditation.


That's now dovetailing with the rise of VR, AR and XR headsets, which provide a more immersive environment, allowing such content to connect on a deeper and more personal level. Consequently, the Depositphotos report foresees the wellness industry stepping things up another notch in the next 12 months.


"To better connect with audiences in 2023, brands will include AR- and VR-powered wellness experiences in their marketing activities," it explains. "The use of dynamic, abstract, and 3D motion graphics with thematic sound effects and scents will facilitate the separation from the physical world, as well as help accelerate positive results for both consumers and brands."

7. A Blast of Joy

We're all looking for a reason to smile right now. Hence there's been marked attention on how to up our levels of dopamine: the brain chemical associated with motivation and pleasure. We all know that good sleep, a balanced diet and physical activity are the main building blocks. But how can we push things forward beyond that?


As the Depositphotos report explains, simple things like wearing clothes that make you feel good or changing your daily routine so it's more fun can make a real difference to mood. "Thus, the 'Romanticise your life' and 'Dopamine dressing' movements [have] appeared, paving the way for a new trend that will take off in the next few months."


And it's not difficult to see how content creators can follow this lead. Consequently, the report predicts that "maximalist, eclectic, and sometimes too flashy aesthetics will go toe-to-toe with minimalist and clean imagery. Content creators will generously and colourfully stylise their photoshoots, with settings and model looks becoming even more deliberate and energetic—all in order to bring joy and fascinate with detail."