Successful artists and designers know that if they want their work to stand out in a crowded marketplace, they have to make sure it dazzles their audiences long enough to communicate to them. The best way to do that? Keeping visuals fresh, modern, and on the cutting-edge.
But how do you know if you’re creating designs that are hitting the mark? Every ambitious graphic designer should keep an eye out for the creative trends that are ruling the industry - the colors, shapes, and forms that are resonating with audiences right here, right now. But that requires time that not every graphic designer can spare. Want a faster way to know what’s in (and what’s out) for 2019? We’ve pulled together a crash course that will keep you up-to-date on the current trends in graphic design so you can stay abreast (or even ahead of!) the curve.
How did we find these trends? It’s all about knowing where to look. Social media is a great tool for staying on top of what’s hot and what’s not; following hashtags, designers, and agencies on Instagram and Twitter gave us access to cool design work and a sense of where the industry might be going. We read graphic design and advertising blogs like Creative Bloq, Adweek, Communication Arts, Graphic Design USA, Fast Company, and 99 Designs to uncover what was trending - and we tracked patterns among online communities like Dribbble, reddit, and Behance when we found graphic design inspiration there, too.
Ready to learn more? Here’s what we found.
3D illustrations were high on the list of graphic design trends of 2018 and it looks like graphic designers aren’t changing that any time soon. These kinds of Illustrations are by no means new, but they are having a big moment thanks largely to emerging tech and the growing popularity of digital platforms. Screens have become more ubiquitous, brighter, and better looking, which has made them a more attractive way to showcase 3D illustrations and other complex graphics that play with depth perception and lighting effects through layering and vectors.
Meanwhile, advanced technology allows designers to create advanced-looking images faster than ever before. Mobile apps like Procreate for the iPad give creatives the ability to whip up 3D illustrations with a few strokes of a stylus, and then easily share fun animations that bring their 3D renderings to life.
A Hand-Drawn Look
While many of the graphic design trends for 2019 are largely tech-driven, a more analogue, hand-drawn aesthetic shows no sign of going away, either. Designers are attracted to the authentic, human quality to slightly wavering lines and shapes, and they often impart a certain nostalgic quality that algorithmically-calculated images don’t always have.
That being said, hand-drawn doesn’t necessarily mean drawn by hand; think of it more like a vibe than a description of the process. Software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop can give vectors and digital line art softer edges and more fluid curves that feel more organic and less like a stack of square pixels.
More designers are taking a minimalist approach when it comes to logo design and branding efforts. From removing flourishes and lens flares in favor of simplified color blocking, to doing away with unnecessary parts of the logo entirely, designers are looking for ways that they can create logomarks that tell the same story in a more efficient and streamlined way. Is the word “donut” necessary if there is an illustration of one? Probably not. Strong symbols speak for themselves, and newer brands are learning that when designs are good, people are smart enough to fill in the blanks.
Similar to the 3D illustration trend, graphic designers have been experimenting with new tools and platforms to take their work to the next level. For decades, augmented and virtual realities have been promised as staples of the future. With recent advancements in computer and smartphone technology, that future has finally arrived, and it has opened up so many interesting and inventive new lanes for makers. Interactivity is perfect for reaching a wider audience, because everyone can stand to add a little more play to their day. Images and text can be suspended in mid-air or swirled around, giving the headset wearer the ability to virtually explore or manipulate it; objects can be triggered to morph to reveal more visual information when approached or touched; and illustrations can replace more traditional instructions to guide users through an experience or teach them about a product.
Bright and Bold
To capture the attention of the scrolling generation, designers are taking advantage of bold lines and bright color palettes. High contrast design is working, whether it’s vintage-inspired patterns and neon, or the blending of different lettering styles and sizes. Florals (especially hand-drawn ones) are everywhere because they are fun, eye-catching, and stand out from the uniformity of a shopping aisle or bookstore shelf. Bright and bold graphic design screams at the viewer to take notice -- an attribute that is only becoming more necessary as attention spans shorten.
The traditional grid system may still reign supreme when it comes to layouts, but graphic designers looking to create new ways of achieving visual balance are shifting how they place elements within their designs. Asymmetrical and unexpected designs add a layer of tension that can make an image more intriguing-- viewers’ eyes, trained to read along a specific path (left to right in Western cultures), can become confused within a different layout, creating more visual interest. Shift your audiences focus with color choices and differences in scale, details like arrows or lines that nudge the reader to look in specific directions. Keep in mind, though, that just because your design is no longer even, doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a sense of harmony that brings the design together as a whole.
If you want to create your own asymmetrical designs, the Adobe Creative Suite provides useful tools to help you achieve the look. InDesign, Muse, Illustrator, and Photoshop each have their strengths for web designers, print designers, and illustrators and each has standard features that every graphic designer should commit to mastering, particularly if they want to begin experimenting with new approaches to graphic design.
Want to learn more about Graphic Design? Skillshare has dozens of classes to help you get started.
Thumbnail/banner image by Skillshare student Andrea L.