In the world of graphic design, trends are always changing. One day minimalism is considered the golden standard while on a different day it’s already neon colors and vintage that’s making rounds. In this article we share the Top 10 Modern Tendencies in Graphic Design Today.
It goes without saying that you need to be up to date with these trends to be a successful graphic designer. Not only is it important to understand them, but it’s also crucial to utilize them correctly. What follows are the ten biggest tendencies and trends in graphic design now.
Table of Contents
1. Nostalgia: Y2K, Frasurbane, and Grunge
By far the biggest trend of them all is the all-encompassing presence of nostalgia. And it’s not just in graphic design – pop culture is full of it. With shows like Stranger Things becoming big hits, it’s no wonder that more and more people are looking back at the past with warm feelings and memories.
This kind of nostalgia for the days long gone is reflected in other fields, including graphic design. Both 1980s and 1990s are the primary focus of this nostalgic wave, though the latter is arguably more popular. There are three main themes related to nostalgia that you can see in graphic design nowadays:
- Y2K: Spanning from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Y2K is widely associated with initial pessimism as the millennium came to an end and subsequent optimism and faith in technological advancement when the expected apocalypse didn’t happen. The key characteristics associated with this aesthetic include low poly CGI, bubblegum pinks and blues, crude interfaces, iridescent colors, and even some elements of cyberpunk. Though Y2K can feel a bit cheap, this aspect is endearing and fun rather than cringeworthy.
- Frasurbane: Frasurbane is a portmanteau of Frasier (a 1990s sitcom) and the word “urbane”. This aesthetic adopts the POV of young adults when recalling the 1990s and uses elements such as serif fonts, muted colors, and minimalistic details to an extent. Because this aesthetic is so connected to Gen X, it is widely seen as a balance between adult sophistication and the youthful hipness of living in the city.
- Grunge: A 1990s aesthetic that is still influencing the fashion industry to this day, grunge also has its spot in the graphic design sphere. Grunge has this kind of wild, rebellious teen aura that’s rough, chaotic, and unapologetic. Gritty textures, torn pages, scribbled writing, shadowed images, and zine-like collages are all elements you can use to evoke this aesthetic.
When using nostalgia in your designs, remember that it’s never about copying something old. Instead, it’s about taking those old and retro things and using them in a new way. Don’t trap yourself by only viewing nostalgia in a particular way and instead experiment with all three aesthetics above.
2. Experimental Lettering
While typography is always quite varied, there are still certain trends appearing and disappearing on the graphic design scene. One of the major ones recently has been experimental lettering. Instead of sticking to established conventions, designers are now more likely to push the limits of what makes a text look good to create more expressive designs.
This trend has its origins in personal expression which means you could go as wild as you want to. Mismatch fonts, colors, bend shapes, and overall just get weirder with your typography. However, you should still make sure to do it in a way that will benefit your target audience.
Thelma Davis, an expert from the best research paper writing service reviews site, says, “It’s interesting how graphic designers are now being more experimental and expressive with their lettering and typography. And yet, you can clearly see that there is a bigger focus on functionality too. It’s about being bold and daring while also being practical.”
Perhaps this kind of trend in lettering is the direct result of the information overload we are currently living in. There are such high content turnover rates and so many ads appearing on every corner that brands are willing to experiment more to stand out from the crowd. To attract the attention of your target audience, you need to catch the eye of your viewer.
3. Data Visualization
Though data visualization is not a new trend, it’s definitely gaining even more popularity nowadays. For brands of all kinds, visualizing data can be an easy way to communicate important statistics to their audience in a simpler, more comprehensible manner. In addition to that, content types such as infographics are becoming more common which is another reason why data visualization is so widely used now.
The pandemic has also influenced how this trend is used, especially in graphic design. The healthcare industry was actively trying to educate the general public about COVID-19, so obviously, using data visualization to achieve this was a logical move. From case statistics to step-by-step guides on getting vaccinated, data visualization was widely used for all kinds of purposes.
What’s great about this trend is that there is a lot of variety in the types of content you can use to visualize data. Infographics are popular, but other formats include charts, graphs, maps, tables, scatter plots, diagrams, timelines, histograms, and more. In other words, you can present data in different ways, so you don’t have to rely on a single type of content.
A tendency that is clearly related to nostalgia is escapism. In fact, nostalgia could be considered a part of the overall escapism trend because of the way it allows people to recall something they are fond of instead of focusing on the harsh reality. Escapism is all about escaping responsibilities and focusing on things that might be out of reach for you.
Just like data visualization, the escapism trend was impacted by the pandemic as well. Many businesses went bankrupt, people lost their jobs, both individuals and entire families struggled to support themselves financially. No wonder so many turned to fantasies to feel a little better mentally, even when they were going through so many trying times.
But there’s more to escapism than simply the ability to forget about the real world and escape into a fantasy. It’s also about a sense of wonder, about experiencing something you might not be able to experience in the real world. It’s about your imagination and creativity first and foremost.
That’s why there’s so much variety in the way escapism is expressed. Graphic designers and illustrators create magical worlds, psychedelic environments, and fantastical creatures in the most bizarre and unusual ways imaginable. You can even take something you know and use it in a new way by using unexpected colors, exaggerating specific features, and so on.
Contrary to popular belief, maximalism is not the direct opposite of minimalism. The two definitely are related in the way they are unlike one another. And yet, there are still certain details about maximalism that make it more of an umbrella term for many different things.
Louis Turner, an expert from the best writing service reviews site who specializes in graphic design, explains, “Maximalism is about using the space you have to its fullest. You fill this space with objects of your own liking that ultimately come together to create a complete picture for the viewer to behold. It’s like a puzzle.”
Unlike minimalism, maximalism is unafraid of bold, vibrant colors that make the designs more energetic and dynamic. It may not work for every brand, but it’s definitely one of the best aesthetics to try when you want to be different when compared to all the other minimalistic designs that have been so common throughout the past several years.
But even as you decide to use maximalism in your designs, you should still be careful with it as it can quickly become overbearing. If there are too many elements competing for attention, you could end up with a stuffy design that easily turns into visual noise that so many people are used to ignoring automatically.
6. Environmentalism and Eco-Aesthetics
With climate change being a major talking point internationally, environmentalism and eco-aesthetics have made their way into graphic design too. Brands are more willing to support environmental causes and they want to reflect this in their visual content.
Though you might think that this trend is just about using elements of nature and the color green in your designs, there’s actually much more to it. Most people are used to seeing the so-called “greenwashing” in design, so you need to be more original in the way you use environmental and eco themes in your work.
In a way, it’s about focusing on sustainability. Textures and patterns can be perfect for creating a sense of sustainability, but you should also look inwards and think about more abstract concepts such as physical and mental well-being, connecting with nature, and going back to your roots.
7. Diversity and Inclusivity
Much like environmentalism, diversity and inclusivity have been widely discussed topics in the public sphere. This is exactly why brands are trying to be more diverse and inclusive both in terms of their staff and with their marketing.
Instead of targeting a more uniform audience, designs now have to appeal to a more diverse group of potential customers. That’s why you might have to create different pieces for different segments of the target audience. But other times, you will be creating a single design that should appeal to everyone.
Brands want to reach more people from all kinds of backgrounds and to do so, they need to think about people of all ages, races, genders, income levels, and so on. Remember that all of this needs to be expressed in a visual way, so the main rule still stands: show, don’t tell.
8. Social Screencaps and Branded Memes
In an attempt to appeal to younger audiences, brands are now more willing to adopt the language of this segment of the general public. That’s why social screencaps are being integrated into different designs while memes are widely used by brand accounts on social media.
Brad Greene, an expert from a design-centric paper writing service site, points out, “It’s easy to overdo it. If you try too hard, you can end up looking cringeworthy, unfunny, and maybe even out of the loop instead of up to date. Before you decide to use an element from social media in one of your designs, ask yourself whether it’s relevant. You don’t want it to look out of place.”
Though most brands are now becoming hyper-focused on their customers, not everyone is willing to take this route. This is exactly why the anti-design trend is so popular, especially when it comes to designs that primarily target younger audiences.
Indeed, anti-design is about rebellion, so appealing to teenagers and young adults is its main purpose. You will often have to dismiss standard design principles and let opposites clash in your designs. Go against traditions, use more asymmetry, let your designs get more crowded, and experiment as much as possible.
10. Minimal Navigation
Last but not least, minimal navigation is a trend that is often used by primarily smaller businesses with simpler websites. While it used to be common to have many pages with all kinds of information for the customer to browse through, now it’s all about having all of your information on your home page.
In part, this trend is quite beneficial for mobile users who are used to scrolling through social media every day. However, sites with minimal navigation can also be very practical in a desktop setup, so you shouldn’t be afraid to create your designs for all kinds of devices.
Keep in mind that minimal navigation doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stick to minimalistic designs. You can still combine this trend with maximalism or get extravagant with one of the nostalgia-centric trends.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to use all of these trends in your works. In fact, sticking to trends too much could actually harm your designs. That being said, you should still be aware of these tendencies and use your knowledge of them to improve your work.
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Anna Medina is a specialist in different types of writing. She graduated from the Interpreters Department, but creative writing became her favorite type of work. Now she improves her skills while working as a specialist for the best research paper writing service reviews to assist many students all over the world and has free time for other work. She also has training and helps students all over the world with basic writing tips.