The pandemic has dislocated the concept of time for many, according to Shutterstock, as days dissolve together, the passage of time is processed differently. In 2022, creatives are expected to visualise this overarching sensation of losing track of time and space through entering new realms, eras, and possibilities in their marketing materials, Shutterstock said.  As virtual spaces increase in popularity, this year’s "Shutterstock Creative Trends" report places users directly into the metaverse through a heightened interactive experience, allowing users to explore the trends via a personalised avatar.

“When we took a closer look at what the global Shutterstock community is searching for, it is clear that 2022 is set to be a year defined by pushing traditional boundaries and exploring the unknown,” said Flo Lau, creative director at Shutterstock.

According to Lau, there is a sense of wanderlust and desire to explore the fantastical and the uncanny. "From the barren desert landscapes of the West to the neon reflections of a futuristic skyline, this year is ready to test the boundaries of our imagination," explained Lau. Here are the six trends that creatives should bear in mind for the year.

1. Fantastic (14th Century)


Reflecting the global obsession with medieval sagas such as Game of Thrones and The Witcher , the popularity of the Middle Ages continues to rise, said the report. In fact, keywords such as medieval building (+6,496%), vintage shield (+2,858%), and templar (+831%) have seen a drastic uptick, as creative and marketers rewind the clock to revisit a "realm of drama and adventure". According to Shutterstock.AI data, the content receiving the most clicks includes towers, goblets, and axes, with castles being the most popular.

2. The Macabre (Modern Era)


The year 2022 sees the creative direction take a spooky turn, as users clamour for all things horror. From the jeepers to the creepers, and everything in between, search patterns from the report indicate that genres of horrors or thrillers are making a comeback. In fact, there is a particular focus on dystopian and post-apocalyptic futures. According to the report, elements such as Egyptian mummies (+6,923%), beasts (+3,623%), and reapers (+388%) have come up on top.  

3. Way out west (18th – 19th Century)


Aside from the Middle Ages and the spooky, data have also shown a spike in interest for cowboy culture, wild west environments, and prairie fields. For instance, the search on "wild horses" has increased by 1961%. Western-themed images and videos are also climbing fast on marketing wish lists, with Navajo patterns having grown in popularity by 225% over the last year.

4. On the road again (Modern Era)


The yearning for escape has never been more pronounced, Shutterstock said. This year, the long and winding road is capturing the imagination of creatives everywhere. According to the report, this could be attributed to the pandemic which has sparked the urge to travel for millions around the world.

Users are searching for bikes on the road (+14,911%), roads to mountains (+5,763%), and the badlands (+487%) in an effort to explore unknown territories and paths less frequented from the comforts of their own homes. Content receiving the most clicks includes luggage and mountain ranges.

5. Cyberpunk is not dead (2100s)


In a world that is constantly innovating and breaking technological barriers, it is no surprise that creatives are turning towards high-tech aesthetics such as nocturnal cityscapes, fractal backgrounds (+2,955%), and women avatars (+1,503%) to keep up with the changes. According to the report, content receiving the most clicks include electrical outlets, webcams and LED.

6. What’s cookin’ (Modern Era)


Lockdowns around the world has spurred people to get back in the kitchen and find inspiration from all corners of the globe, said the report. In fact, creatives are now hungry for some international fare. Searches for regional specialties and ingredients such as porcini (+2,566%), takoyaki (+2,024%), and panna cotta (+435%) are on the rise, as creatives and marketers look for gastronomical inspiration near and far. Additionally, the content receiving the most clicks includes pretzels and cupcakes, said the report. 

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