Top 10 Visual Trends For 2018

As 2018 gets underway, our Researchers and Account Managers have identified our top ten trends in fiction covers, and in design more generally.
Here they are – see what you think, and let us know your own trend predictions for this year!

Political Turmoil
This trend emerged in 2016 in the wake of the unexpected electoral victories for Donald Trump in the USA and the Vote Leave campaign in the UK referendum on EU membership.
We’re still seeing lots of covers suggesting uncertainty, conspiracy and the manipulation of information. This often involves symbolic depictions of flags, political institutions and money, or people in suits representing power players.

Fiction offering a contemporary take on witchcraft is currently very popular in adult and teenage fantasy publishing. We’re seeing designs using traditional witchcraft elements – candles, books, potions, animals – but given a 21st century context.
Sympathetic lead characters are often featured; someone in contemporary dress with a suggestion of magic or power. Although this is often female-led there are male characters shown in these settings as well. Ethnic diversity is also very prominent in this genre.

Alongside the witchcraft trend, and often overlapping with it, is a trend for using pagan symbols. These can be from a variety of different cultures, such as Celtic, Egyptian, Native American and African societies.
These might appear in the form of jewellery, painting, make-up or even in a graffiti style. They might suggest a movement or subculture, and can also be used to suggest secret societies and shadowy organisations.

Domestic Disturbance
Another well-established trend that continues to evolve, this concept uses a domestic setting with something subtly out of place – missing items, cracked china, broken mirrors or wonky picture frames.
In the psychological thriller genre this is often used to create a menacing sense of things being wrong or not what they seem. However, we’re also seeing more lighthearted takes on the same idea to suggest an ironic tone or black humour.

Near Future Sci-Fi
This genre includes stories of space exploration and extraterrestrial life, but inspired by near-contemporary technology and a sense of gritty realism – Andy Weir’s ‘The Martian’ is a great example.
Also in this category are stories looking at near-future scenarios involving dramatic climate change or natural disasters – these often use images of abandoned cities, floods, or refugees.

The 1960s
In recent months we’ve seen a great many requests for imagery with a 1960s feel. This is most often in terms of characters in period fashions, but also includes locations, objects and 60s-inspired colour schemes.
We’re seeing bright and colourful depictions of the ‘swinging sixties’, but also more muted and monochrome covers for stories about conflict and harder lives.

There have been serious efforts over the past year to ensure that diversity is appropriately reflected in the publishing industry, in terms of both authors and stories as well as within the publishing houses themselves.
We are seeing increasing demand for ethnically diverse characters and depictions of people of different religions and cultures. This applies to all genres – action thrillers, young adult fiction, fantasy, historical fiction and contemporary romance.
We are also seeing more need for diversity in age, body type, gender and sexuality.

Paper & Photo-Illustration
Mixed media designs continue to be popular and new ideas come through all the time. Designers are being creative with images that blend photographic elements with collages, paper constructions and origami.
We’ve also seen a number of designs experimenting with rips, burn holes and inventive ‘reveals’.

Instagram & Authenticity
Enduringly popular in contemporary and young adult fiction is a sense of authenticity – images that suggest people living in the moment, being spontaneous and carefree.
Social media photos generally, and Instagram in particular, are the driving force behind this trend. The images people add their social media feeds are often far from ‘authentic’ – in that they are posed and will often have filter effects applied – but designers are looking for images with a sense of immediacy, and of capturing moments and shared experiences.

Two colour trends are standing out at the moment. Citrics are very prominent – burnt oranges and fiery yellows especially, but also brighter yellows and reds.
Another colour trend we’ve spotted is for ‘ultraviolet’ – using palettes of purple, pink and blue contrasted with white, often to create an otherworldly feel or to make something everyday appear vivid.