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  • Katie Smith

Creativation 2018: Trends Recap

Hey guys! I’m back home in my studio after a week in Arizona! I was in Phoenix for the annual Tombow Design Team Summit where we do product training, and this year Tombow decided to combine the summit with the Creativation show, which I thought was a really great idea! Creativation (formerly known as CHA) is a show put on by AFCI (Association For Creative Industries) and is a trade show for businesses and manufacturers to attend and show their new products.

Friday was a day filled with Tombow training! This was the first time I’d met most of the Tombow marketing team in person, as well as all of my fellow design team members and it was so great to get to know them. I’m an introvert so getting to know people is always hard for me, but everyone on the team is so nice and I’m thrilled to be working with them.

Saturday we all split into groups and walked around the Creativation show floor! If you’ve never been, let me just tell you that the show floor is pretty big, and while we covered most of it in 5 hours, we could have also spent all weekend just looking at all of the booths!

Tombow 2018 Design Team and Marketing Team

In this post I am not going to try to feature all of the new products out in the creative industry. What I want to talk about is the trends I saw on the show floor! This includes trends that have been around for a little bit and are still going strong, and trends that are just emerging! So let’s do this:

Travelers Notebooks and Planners

Planners are still a huge trend and so many companies have started making their own, I saw so many different versions and designs. Another thing I saw: Travelers Notebooks. Definitely a lot of these popping up as they get more popular in scrapbooking, journaling and planning.


You know how last year Flamingos were THE bird? Well, I still saw flamingos (and pineapples) around, but one feathered friend I saw popping up a LOT on the show floor this year were peacocks! I saw them on beading kits, on paper, etc. Amy Tangerine had some reallly cute peacock designs in her new line.  (I didn’t get a very close up photo of them though…)

Llamas, Cats, Caticorns and Unicorns

There were SO many llamas, and unicorns, and a ridiculous amount of Caticorns!

Mermaids and Sea

Mermaids! Mermaids! Mermaids! I saw many paper companies with mermaid patterned paper, and ocean themes such as jelly fish and narwhals (real life whale-unicorn! love!)


I’m not sure that Flowers can really be considered a trend, they’re pretty timeless from a design aspect, I think, but they were certainly everywhere on the show floor! Lots of floral designs on planners, 3d paper flowers, and layered flowers.


I’m super thankful that galaxies aren’t out yet. They’ll never be gone for me.


I noticed a lot of mixed media and DIY’s involving wood plaques and logs. And not just at Walnut Hollow’s booth- so many booths used wood products to feature their work.

Paint Pouring

This technique seemed to go viral online this past year and it’s huge. Everyone wants to try Dirty Pours and it’s even easier now because DecoArt has come out with some brand new paint pouring mediums.

Comics and Super Heroes

I didn’t get a photo of any of these, but I noticed so many super hero and comic inspired designs on different products!

Vintage and Retro Color Schemes

There were some really unique color schemes around the show floor. I saw a lot of combinations that reminded me of vintage and retro colors.

Brush Pens

You all know Tombow makes my absolute favorite brush pens, but with lettering being as popular as it is, I noticed many many companies now selling markers!

A few other things I noticed: Foiling and watercolors are still really popular. Greenery, such as palm leaves and ferns, is still a trendy design, which I love. Textures- I saw a lot of journals and things made with suede or leather. I saw a lot less scrapbooking booths and more diy/mixed media booths than I did the last time I was there.

So there we have it! This was the 3rd time I’ve been to Creativation/CHA, although it had been a couple of years since my last trip. It’s always a really fun experience and I love being able to see and learn about the new products coming soon to the creative industry!

What trends have you noticed lately? Which do you love or just cannot stand?

Thanks for a good trip, Phoenix!


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