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Creative trend: 5 things that will be getting creative juices flowing in 2020

Design trends, just like in the fashion world, have a tendency to come and go in cycles. That’s why, when looking ahead to 2020, we’ve noticed a resurgence of some particular design trends that might evoke fond memories, while others embrace the latest technology.

Shariff Ibrahim

Techniques like 3D lettering are set to make a resurgence with a new twist, and things like wide angle photography and augmented reality are becoming ever more prevalent thanks to new tech like iPhone. Have a read and let us know via social media what you're predicting to be the next big thing in the design world for 2020.

Another dimension in lettering

With the rise of street art-inspired design, 3D lettering was always due a comeback. Hand lettering has been a growing trend over the past few years (we love Lauren Hom's creative examples), especially with the help of the iPad Pro and Apple pencil and its control over brush flow and pressure. Now we’re seeing artists push this further by experimenting with a number of techniques to literally make text pop. 

Apps such as Pro Create and Adobe's new Fresco are enabling artists to add incredible detail to their designs, and the increase of tutorials like Ian Barnard's handy Instagram videos is encouraging people to get a piece of the pie. It’s not all digital though, so expect to see artists apply these techniques back into the real world to stop you in your tracks. Ben Johnstone and Rob Lee create huge typographical murals to stunning effect. Once you’ve mastered one technique, that can then lead you on to a project that will help you try and eventually master another. The 3D lettering trend is here to stay, but who knows what direction it’ll take next. 

Photography, meet illustration

We expect to see the marriage of photography and illustration across the design world next year, as the humble collage continues to evolve.

We’re now seeing collage-driven animation that augments photography and found footage with hand-drawn illustration, brush strokes, doodles and other messy, real-world elements to create works with personality and colour. See how Selman Hoşgör’s colour work transforms this Oscar explainer from a slideshow of press shots to a vibrant, attention-grabbing animation for an excellent example.

Artists like Belgium’s Sammy Slabbink combine old photographs and retro designs to great effect, juxtaposing the old and new to offer wry commentary on modern life. This collage style has caught on with mainstream publications like Wired, Bloomberg, The Guardian and New Scientist, all of which have hired graphic artist Jimmy Turrell to illustrate articles on fairly abstract concepts. Rather than rely on generic stock imagery, these magazines are turning to artists who can provide them with arresting visual metaphors for the subjects they cover – something we hope to see a lot more of in 2020.

Reality bites back

It feels like every year has been the big year for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) recently. Games like Pokémon Go and Minecraft Earth mean more and more people are experiencing AR interaction. But with Adobe apps supporting 180 and 360/VR editing, and the launch of Adobe Aero around the corner – which lets designers create and share AR experiences in Creative Cloud without the need for any coding skills – 2020 might just be the year marketing using AR and VR goes mainstream.

Apple are already embracing AR on their website, and customers browsing on a mobile device can choose to place a virtual model of iPhone 11, Mac Pro and more onto their desks. Facebook are jumping on the trend, too. They’re releasing an AR advert ad format in open beta this autumn, so expect to be trying on sunglasses and lipstick colours in your Facebook news feed soon! 

A great example is when Pepsi installed AR technology in a London bus shelter, making it seem as if a lion, UFOs, flying saucers and other objects were flying towards commuters. Over in the US, Home Depot released their Project Color app, which uses patent technology to show users what a paint colour will look like in their own home, using just their phone. With the creative possibilities this trend opens up, we can’t wait to see how more and more brands work AR into their strategy.

Wide-eyed photography

Wide angle photography can be expected to start playing a much bigger part in your every day Instagram feed and in turn we will start to see it creeping into commercial designs. There's a definite trend for the latest Instagram filter/photo style to shift over into the photography businesses use as it becomes easier and more affordable to capture professional looking photos.

We can expect to see wide angle photography no longer restricted to the realm of influencers who use their DSLR. iPhone’s cameras have been getting better and better since their inception, and the new iPhone 11 Pro is the icing on the cake – featuring a new triple camera system for amazing shots, even in wide angles and low light. Night Mode allows designers to far more easily capture dark imagery to complement dark mode designs.

Floating points

Another trend we think is going to have a big year in 2020 is the use of ‘floating’ product imagery in advertising and marketing. This is achieved when a product in the foreground is given the impression of being suspended mid-air against a plain background. London-based creative studio Blond use this to particularly striking effect across their portfolio, including in design for various high-end watch and gadget brands. 

It works particularly well for very visual, textual products like shoes, so it's very effective for fashion photography. In this tutorial, photographer Max Bridge explains how to recreate the effect on a shoestring (sorry) budget. 


Of course, once you've got the basics in place (we always recommend a powerful Mac, Adobe Creative Cloud and a Wacom graphics tablet to get the most out of creative workflows, but with the rise of powerful iPad, iPhone and iOS apps, you can start creating amazing content on the go), you're only ever limited by your creativity. Here's to creating more innovative designs in 2020!


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