2020 was a year we had to go with the flow in many ways. In design trends, creativity flowed in liquid patterns, 3D realism, funky geometric shapes, innovative typography, and more. But while these concepts borrowed from sci-fi and futuristic tech, new styles may pivot toward bringing reality back in focus.
Here’s a sneak peek of four graphic design trends to watch for in 2021:
Back to Nature
One well-documented side effect of the coronavirus pandemic was a thirst for nature.
Creatives can capitalize on this by bringing the outdoors inside, highlighting gorgeous natural ambiance. Expect 2021 designs to mimic nature, natural lights, softer earthy colors and tones, natural gradients in color schemes, flowing lines, and more. Want to try it yourself? Use color filters to create natural ambiance in your images, or grab textures featuring wood, stone, waves, and more.
If you can’t go to the forest, let the forest come to you!
Simple Data Visualizations
When you’ve done your homework, you want to make this information matter.
Complex data is hard to understand, and simple data visualizations (like graphs, charts, educational posters, or infographics) make communication much more effective. Stats show that visual content is processed 60,000 times faster than text, and 72% percent of marketers agree that visual content is more effective than text.
Seek to transform great ideas into powerful images through creative alternatives like custom symbols, photo manipulation progressions, educational posters, animated gifs, personified maps, and more.
After 2020 limited our freedom in so many ways, many will be looking to push back by breaking the rules.
Watch for this in design as trends teeter toward more rebellious features that create a feeling of brazen defiance.
“What we were first taught not to do, we now do by intention,” explains graphic designer Michal Sloboda, who’s also the founder of graphic design aggregator Trend List. “There are many more rules to be broken, and by doing so, we can come across something seemingly bizarre, but also unique or beautiful.”
What might this look like in your designs? The more imperfect, the better. Use clashing font, psychedelic photos, irreverent characters, chaos typography, surreal imagery, and wild colors like lush lava, phantom blue, and aqua menthe.
Gradients and color transitions have been a popular trend for a few years now.
In 2021, many designers will look to add another layer, blending gradient hues with blurry and blended background images. Grainy filters can bring a sense of grunge and grime or rustic and vintage. And a blurred image can evoke emotions of what hides beneath the exterior.
Whether it’s a grayscale cityscape layer or a forlorn silhouette background, combining textured photos with blended gradients can bring a transitory — yet authentic — contrast to your design.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
2021 will be nothing if not interesting, so kickstart the new year with a style all your own.
To get started, it’s helpful to reflect on the past and decide what you’ll do differently in the future. Stay ahead of the curve with these design trends, and let us know if we can help infuse your designs with a fresh look in the months to come!