Clean lines. Block colors. Simple patterns. Stark silhouettes. 2016’s Silence vs. Noise trend is about making a loud impression with something quiet and letting a whisper do all the talking.

“In our increasingly digital worlds, there is a growing interest in leading a less complicated and cluttered existence, and that can mean visually, too,” said Amy Lehfeldt, Senior Art Director at Getty Images.

In fact, the term, “simplicity” is up an incredible 2,270% in Getty Images searches, indicating a desire to pare down during this time of constant visual stimulation.

“We often see the trend for minimalism influencing social media and photo-sharing services like Instagram,” Lehfeldt said. “That’s because it’s a natural reaction to the world around us, to make sense of it and to simplify it, to let the beauty speak for itself.”

Here are five ways these understated design elements can have a powerful effect, using iStock by Getty Images content, along with tips to get the best results from your search.


Negative Space

Less is more. Blank space can serve as a canvas for your viewers’ thoughts and reactions, filling the void and building their own meaning. Or, fill it with your own copy or graphics to create something even more unique.

Search tip: Pair the term “copy space” with “minimal,” “simplicity” or “abstract” and see what your search yields.


Muted Colors

Pastels, hushed tones and color blocking – with a few contrasting details thrown in for good measure – are all great ways to garner attention in today’s congested visual world. Tone it down and watch what happens.

Search tip: All kinds of content can benefit from this kind of make-under. Try keywords like “pastel” and “color block,” along with any desired subject specifics.


Monochromatic Scenes

Images consisting of singular colors and many hues also deliver impact. A rarity in our true color HD 21st century lives, a monochromatic effect is, “stillness captured,” said Lehfeldt. “It makes us take notice, focus and think.”

Search tip: If you have one in mind, be sure to include a color name your search. Combine with “sparse” and “minimalism” (up 61% in user searches) to find what you’re looking for.


Playing with Scale

Examples of epic scale are another surefire way to make sure you get noticed. It’s hard to look away when reminded of just how tiny we are in this big, beautiful universe.

Search tip: Striking silhouettes make these kinds of images all the more memorable, so pair “silhouette” and “contrast” with terms like “scale” and “epic,” which has seen a 15% increase since last year.


Black & White

Finally, never underestimate the power of classic black and white to stand out in a crowd. No matter what concept you’re trying to express, an artfully rendered image can be just as effective – if not more so – in gray scale.

Search tip: Match “black and white” with terms regarding mood or subject matter. “Nature” or “horses,” for instance, or “tranquil” and “empty.”

Discover more effective, simple imagery to streamline your content at iStock by Getty Images