Illustration Trends 2020

Our researchers and sales teams keep a close eye on the latest design and
illustrations trends in publishing!

Here are our best selling concepts for 2020 so far- inventive takes
on these concepts should sell well to publishers…

Floral Patterns
Floral motifs are often used on a darker background to create a striking cover. These covers have combined animal and still life objects too.

Colour Block Figures
Figures are created using bold graphics and block colours.  The effect can create duality and illusion using contrasting colours, mirror images and paired faces.

Black Women
We are seeing more diverse stories and minority voices being represented in book publishing.  Illustrations of black women have been used on bestselling covers around the world.

Young Adult Couples
Contemporary couples in different settings such as at home, garden, park, cafe or street are sought after. We would like to see a range of sexualities and ethnicities represented.

City Life
Public spaces such as parks, streets, squares as well as homes, cafes, bars and restaurants are represented.  Exercise, leisure, commuting, singles, couples and groups help to represent the life and community within in city.

Complex or simple prints and illustrations can be used to create bold colourful patterns either as a stand alone full image or as a boarder around the text.

Line drawings are used to represent single or multiple people, focusing on character features such as long hair or beautiful eyes.  Teamed with a bold background a simple linear image looks very effective.

Stars and the night sky make a very atmospheric image.  Change the colour of the sky to create a different mood to match the genre of the book.

We saw this trend appear in photographic covers a while ago and we are now seeing it appear on illustrated covers. Overhead imagery gives us a different perspective on the image and makes for a really stunning cover.

Recognisable Cities
Cityscapes and landmarks can help anchor the story to a specific location but illustration allows for a bit more imagination.  We have noticed a trend for imagery based in Paris, New York and other well known cities.

Vacation & Leisure
Idyllic vacation spots and locations for fun days out can be created with illustration. We have seen Contemporary and vintage designs.

Small Figures
Small figures from diverse backgrounds are used alongside a big title to create a bold and powerful cover.  This is another trend we’ve seen on photographic covers.

Domestic, wild and fantasy animals are used to suit any book genre.  Using different mediums, mixed media or double exposure can really create a unique cover.

Always In Demand
When we look at what clients search for on the Arcangel website,
certain terms appear very regularly…

  • The 1920s (People and locations).
  • The 1940s & 1950s (People and locations).
  • Dark / atmospheric houses with a single light on.
  • Water.
  • Large detached houses and villas.
  • Groups of people, including family and social gatherings.
  • European cities – Paris, Rome, Berlin, London.
  • US culture and lifestyle – streets, houses, city scenes, Americana.
  • Middle Eastern culture – lifestyle, streets, landmarks, architecture. 
  • Ethnic diversity, especially in children and teenagers, and in all fiction genres.
  • First & Second World War themes: soldiers, families, women in conflict, nuns, nurses…
  • Men/women/couples in contemporary lifestyle settings: shopping, having a coffee, walking the dog… Spontaneous and natural.
  • Regency characters and settings, especially for romances and sagas: women, men and couples.
  • Victorian characters and settings: children, street urchins, and the underworld as well as adults of all social classes.

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