Art and Technology Trends 2018

Art and Technology Trends 2018

art and technology trends 2018

Tomorrows World Today…

Even for a gadget loving geek like me the world of technology is moving a little too fast lately. Every time I turn around new technology is creeping up right behind ready to overtake me in the fast lane.

Products are being end of lined faster than ever before although Microsoft held on for much longer than any of the owners of the Windows Phone ever did. Every time we buy something we are told that it is the best ever but that’s only until the manufacturer releases a Pro version six months later for the same price as the best version six months ago.

Technology should be easy to predict. Buy something today and know that the next generation will be out in less than a year and expect updates or half versions in between. With art and design it’s a similar story except the pace is a millisecond slower. 

So on with today’s roller coaster which is the world of trends for 2018!

It’s around this time every year when I start to look around the corner at the following year and hopefully predict some new art trends which are likely to shape the art market over the next twelve-months.

This year it has been difficult to keep up with all of the changes. The art world and design world more generally is constantly changing. The worlds we artists reside in are fluid, dynamic, and a hundred other words that can be used to describe that the direction could and probably will change in five minutes time. 

So this year I will make a few predictions based on what I am seeing coming through the doors of Beechhouse Media in the way of commissions for 2018 and from speaking to those in the art world who are in the best place to have an idea, and I will try my best to predict the top technology trends that will be heading towards the design industry over the coming twelve-months.

So without further ado, what’s in store for 2018?

Bold colours, much more vibrancy, and there will be a shift away from neutral tones in favour of a continued fascination with iridescence, so shimmering effects are likely to be the order of the day. 

We should be also looking at those bold colours too as nearly everyone I have spoken to is starting to move away from pastel shades in favour of vibrant and bold hues. For the first time ever, my wife moved away from neutral shades when we redecorated the lounge earlier this year and we now have a metallic gold feature wall. 

The jury remains out on whether that was the best idea, and by the way, if you are thinking about using metallic wall paint you will need more than the tin says, oh and it is a real pain to cover a wall without it streaking. Best to do it all in a single sitting and let it dry completely in between at least three coats.

On the home décor front I think we can expect to see more patterns inspired by nature, and I have two commissions for delivery in 2018 where I have been asked for nature to be the theme. Both are for corporate clients who always seem to have an angle on the next trend.

Going back to those bold colours, lime green, bright yellows, celery, and berry inspired purples together with eggshell blue seem to be what Pantone have been suggesting and they have made reference to the use of complementary blues and oranges too. 

If pink is your thing then powerful pinks will be the ones to use, and because we will see an upsurge in nature inspired patterns, also expect to see warm earthy hues and rose coloured tones. 

Drama will come in the form of black and white accented with gold to give a sense of sophistication and there will be a nod to technology by implementing frosted almond tones anchored by bright whites.

So why does interior design style affect the art we create? Because there are many more people buying art which has a fit with the interior design of their homes. Indeed of the many people who buy art, only a relative few do so through galleries or as collectors. Many of the art buyers we see today are looking for something that makes a statement and matches the décor. 

In today’s art world we are seeing more and more people looking online and sadly also looking in those huge chain stores for their arty fix and far more people are seeing art as something which is temporary until the décor changes.  

There are still collectors out there and that market is beginning to pick up once more but equally there are many whose love for art is almost sadly disposable when the next trend comes about.  

Visual Trends…

Gradients will be used more in visual design and bespoke illustrations will overtake stock images. Brands will be using illustrations to add an element of fun and in a style which is unique to the brand. It will be a way of bringing branding to life as companies animate those illustrations and carry themes across their identity. 

Photography will remain as a widely used element in both web and non-web based design but what we can expect to start seeing is more in the way of uniqueness rather than generic stock photography. 2018 is going to be a dare to be different kind of year for visual brand identities.

Typography will become even more beautiful but we will see a transition away from minimalistic text to big, bright, and bold fonts with a preference for those fonts to be hand-rendered which will be able to be layered with scrolling and parallax designs online as the web will become brighter and more visual.

branding marketing differentiation

Content Trends…

I have been saying all through the summer that the content we produce and share online needs to change. The jury is in on video and if you have been using more video on your Facebook business pages you should by now have seen an improvement in organic reach. 

Video will not be going away at all and it will become even more relevant beyond 2018. Live streaming will become even bigger next year so this is where we need to be turning our focus on. Art buyers like to connect with artists and as I keep saying, live streaming is one of the easiest marketing tools we have to work with.

I think though that we also need to focus on creating video that informs and educates and gives people something of value. I carried out a test earlier this year when I shared Insights data about Facebook Group membership in each of my Facebook groups. Those videos were shared considerably more than other videos because they were full of useful information which no one but the admins of groups can usually see. 

Sharing this data with group members allowed them to plan their posts to coincide with when the most users would be online and who those users were so that content could be aimed towards them at the right time. Those videos were offering something of value which people could use and the amount of shares beyond the groups increased overall membership too. In fact there hasn’t been a decline since August when I posted those videos. 

What other trends should we look out for?

Design palettes are not the only things that will change, some of the predicted changes will have an impact on other aspects of our artistic lives too, namely in the way we market our art.

Metadata has been relevant for years and we use metadata tags to describe our art whenever we upload it to a print on demand site. But the way metadata is structured is starting to change.

The potential of metadata is limitless, not just in search but in our everyday lives in areas we don’t necessarily touch first hand. Supply stream optimisation, traffic updates, and maybe that smart fridge I purchased three years ago might really one day help to limit food waste without me having to check the dates on everything with my own eyes. 

There is confusion around what metadata is for now, it is often seen as an extension of personal data and there have been legal cases where the argument has been presented that metadata is not personal data, and equally arguments to the contrary that indeed it should be classed as personal data. 

What I can see is that two things might happen, one is that metadata will become a way of controlling personal data better, and secondly that metadata will become so much more relevant because it has the potential to be linked to maintaining rules on data posted online. That’s the interesting stuff right there. 

Metadata could link to a rule whereby it says that a particular image will only be online for a set period of time and if the artist wants to remove it earlier all that would need to be done is to change the rule that links to the metadata.

In plain English, metadata could in time become a control mechanism which gives us greater protections for not just our personal data, but for our artworks which we post online. How long we would have to wait for such a thing is another question entirely, it would take multiple industries to come together and collaborate, but whatever happens metadata will start changing the way we do things but probably not immediately.

Marketing will change…

We are starting to see a seed change in the way marketing is carried out. At some point that millennial market will turn of age and when they do they will be taking their current preferences with them along with their media habits. These are the people who will be our new 30-40 year old demographics. 

So what the marketer trying to sell their artworks will see as will any other business, is a battle for relevance of a cultural kind. The marketers who will win will have won by recognising that marketing is as valuable as the product they are selling. 

I have mentioned this throughout my summer series of articles on using Facebook to market your visual art and that you need to market through stories. The best marketers will create new chapters in that story over time. 

No one looks at social media in the same way as they once did. Short videos offered through platforms such as Instagram have blurred the lines between TV and social media. The fact that these videos which can just as likely be marketing related or adverts are on social media no longer seems to matter, they have now become just another marketing strategy to add into the mix.

So what will happen with marketing? Marketing art today is very different to the way we marketed art before the birth of social media. There are now more opportunities that we have to get our work out in front of a growing global audience and the number of marketing channels we now have has made marketing more complex, but at the same time is bringing about new opportunities.

This is why I have been focusing on marketing art over the past however many months, artists need to be prepared to up their marketing game if they truly want to become successful and the key to doing this is to really start understanding your audience because personalised marketing is just around the corner.

Business to Business (B2B) marketing will start to increase via Facebook. LinkedIn is seen as the current B2B marketing platform but out of Facebook’s 2-billion users there will be a number of businesses amongst the private profiles. 

I mentioned earlier this year that we shouldn’t be ignoring B2B and the corporate art market and I think many of us are still only just getting to grips with truly finding out who our public audience is. But I also think we are missing out on an opportunity here and that is to start thinking more seriously about marketing our art to corporate clients as well as the general public.

The recent announcement of Facebook testing out an explore feature where news streams are essentially split between paid (Your Facebook Business Page) and social posts from friends has given us all insights into Facebook’s thinking around monetising further but the tests have only happened in a limited number of countries so far. 

Facebook say “there are currently no plans” to roll this out wider or introduce it as a core feature and the alarm sound here is the word, currently. 

There’s already been some backlash from publishers and if they did introduce this as a feature they would open up channel of dialogue where publishers would suggest that they would leave the platform altogether. That’s all well and good but with a quarter of the worlds population currently using the social platform, the reality is that unless publishers pay they won’t get the same level of engagement anywhere else. What we’re seeing is perhaps the hook at the moment, expect in time that the hook becomes attached to a pay to play platform entirely for business. 

Having said that, Facebook won’t introduce this in the short term. They will need to refine that hook some more unless they want to lose businesses, but I think by 2020 this could become a real thing. I think initial costs will be low if it happens, but I think those costs will increase over time too. 

marketing art in 2018

Other things to expect…

Augmented Reality has been around for years in some form but only now is it starting to learn to crawl. Apple have AR incorporated into their new phones, so we can expect to see marketing opportunities evolving which will be delivered via AR. 

AR and Metadata will be going on lots of first dates so making sure you are listed on services such as Google My Business is something you will want to consider doing sooner rather than later and particularly if you have a physical presence such as a gallery or public studio. 

There will be a point in time when geo-location will go on that date with AR and Metadata too and when this happens people will hold up their phones in front of your gallery and will be able to find out more about you and view your works from the pavement café where they are sipping coffee and scrolling on a mobile phone. Also you kind of know that Google Glass will never really go away right?

Take this a step further and I can see a time when you hold up your phone in the street and as you turn around the data will indicate that what you want to buy is in stock here but not there, and it is cheaper here but not there. I have a strange feeling that we are not too far away from this.

When it comes to technology and user interfaces we will start to see new ways of interacting with our devices. Again Apple have introduced a technology that originally came out of another manufacturer and that technology is facial identification. 

User interfaces will evolve and there will be new visual ways of interacting and reading data. Progress bars will certainly start evolving in 2018 and will become less about giving you the hard numbers in predictable steps and more about visualising where you are in a process. 

As Chase Buckley said, progress is a spectrum and not a bar. Progress should be fluid so rather than a progress bar on screen we will be starting to see a progress spectrum where one event or goal seamlessly flows into the next by moving through a spectrum of colour.

In the next five to ten years we should start seeing mainstreaming of mood based interfaces. This essentially allows users to make choices based on how they are feeling and this has huge ramifications for the world of e-commerce. Colour palettes for example could be applied depending on how the user is feeling at that particular moment. Make both happy and sad paintings folks. 

Mood based interfaces seem a little too far out there become a reality any time soon but they are already happening. Constantly inundated with limitless choice the consumer expects much more intuitive interfaces which make choosing easier. This will be done through something called hyper-personalisation where products and services are curated for an individual. Remember these phrases and I’ll ask you next year If you have become more familiar with them, you will have. 

Other Art Trends…

No set of predictions from me would be complete without my thoughts on who or what we should be looking out for in the arts world during 2018. This one though is a little more difficult than the world of technology and marketing because of the timing. Not just with the political uncertainty and issues we currently face such as North Korea, Iran, and Brexit, but because we are at this point in the year heading towards events such as Art Basel (Miami 7-10 Dec) where I would expect the markets to start moving slightly upwards again over the coming months.

The European Art Basel back in June saw a trend towards weighty and pricey artists which could have been a reaction to political uncertainty, preferring the blue-chip post-war market to the exciting new artists. Political works did very well in June too. 

I can’t see that things will be too much different in December when some 268 of America’s top galleries and art museums will be showing us what they have in store. 

Basel and the likes are just one area of visual arts but more of a wish than a prediction is that the market for the art of unrepresented artists starts to build real momentum. I believe it really can but it is going to need artists who are unrepresented to start making some real effort and upping their marketing game rather than taking the spray and pray approach which seems to be the default marketing strategy for some visual artists. Independent artists need to professionalise their marketing game. 

I am seeing more work which I like and find exciting coming out of the social media/print on demand and local artist arenas than I am from the likes of Basel, and of course it’s way more affordable and in many cases as good as if not better than some of the work showcased at the major art events.

The problem though is that you have to search for something exciting and that gem of a work is usually tucked away in between millions of posts and search results. I have a few thoughts around this and I will write about those in an upcoming article, but essentially I think that if we are going to see a surge of popularity for independent and unrepresented artists then a change is needed in the way some artists promote themselves and their work and I think for a few this next year could be a reality check. 

Predicting the Future…

Some of the predictions will happen or are happening sooner than others and it is impossible to completely predict how the art market for those of us who are not represented by huge galleries will shape up over time. At best we can make an educated guess but there’s no way of knowing for sure what’s around the corner. 

I’m not so certain that we should keep taking visual cues to create art inspired from the world of Basel and just work on similar artistic genres popular at the show if we want to get our work out in front of an audience. What we need to be focussing on is creating something different and which could be the next big thing at events like Basel.

What is more predictable is that we will need to change the way we engage with audiences and how we step up our marketing efforts to embrace the new ways people will want to engage with us and our art. The future for marketing art is about to change but I’m not so certain it will happen overnight although we do need to be aware.

Marketing our art will become harder and harder unless we are preparing now and getting ahead of the game. Using Facebook was once a scary proposition but we all managed to get on there, and for the most part we are still at least getting seen, just not by the entirety of the platforms 2-billion users. 

If we get ahead now then the transition to the new ways we need to market will have already been done. My biggest prediction though? As independent artists and a crowded market, we really do have to up our marketing game. 


Mark A. Taylor is a British artist and blogger who specialises in abstract and landscape work and also produces art to be used within TV and film, and he also creates book covers. You can see and purchase Mark’s artwork on a wide range of print mediums and other products right here, and you can follow Mark on Facebook here


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