Graphic design – “The list of challenges 2020 has thrown the world’s way is as exhaustive as it is exhausting,” says Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs to Archipanic. The global creative platform sampled opinions from its international community of designers to forecast 11 graphic design trends responding to nowadays challenges: from the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change as well as social and political issues.
Out of tragedy, designers are giving us irreverent characters. Out of self-isolation, they are giving us nature. And out of confusion, they are giving us our symbols of speech. “There are a few 2021 trends that hark back to bygone days and past eras,” such as Surrealism, Pop Art and Retro-Futurism – Adds Shayne Tilley.
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99designs is the global creative platform that makes it easy for clients and designers to work together online. “People helping people create their own success is at the heart of everything we do at 99designs, and we believe in creating opportunities for people around the world, irrespective of location, gender, nationality, skin colour or orientation.” The platform is also running 99nonprofits, a global initiative that provides free design services to not-for-profit groups that positively impact their local communities and internationally.
Rooted in the music and art scene of the ‘60s, psychedelia is associated with hallucinogens and creative experimentation. In 2021, expect excessive color and intensely intricate abstractions. The explosive result will be balanced and kept stable by symmetry as “there are ways to stay grounded even in the most nonsense of circumstances,” say at 99designs.
“The retro-futurists believed firmly in human progress, and as a visual style, it has a bold look and a surprisingly optimistic outlook, which is something the world needs right now!” Says Shayne Tilley to Archipanic. Bright colors, computer-inspired typography, and curves—from fishbowl space helmets to arches and domes. Rather than returning us to an idealized past, 2021’s Retro Futurism promises to transport us back to the good old days of the days yet to come.
“Surrealism is one of those artistic terms people tend to associate with the fantastical, and it’s easy to look over that the word itself incorporates Realism. The 2021 trend seamlessly entwines the real with the surreal. An experience felt intensely over the past six months as a pandemic worthy of any bad fiction swept around the world and became our way of life.” Says Shayne Tilley to Archipanic. This year, expect surrealist collages where images that would be normal separately become strange when combined.
Iconic geometries, lions, astronomical signs and goddesses; classic symbols have always been linked with strong messages and transcend language. “In 2021, designers are leveraging this power to create aspirational icons of resilience, growth and empowerment.” They will modernize classic visual motifs and incorporate them into their work.
“As a designer, portraying diversity is the way we can do our part for a better and more inclusive future.” Fe Melo, Top Level designer at 99designs. “By portraying diversity, we inspire & encourage people of all backgrounds on their journeys and that’s such a needed and positive change.” Highlighting various cultures, skin tones, ages but also flaws and uniquenesses can genuinely make a difference to narrate how the real world really is.
Farewell abstract neutral images and welcome to humour. 2021 will be populated by quirky creatures and irreverent characters with tongue-in-cheek messages. From suit-wearing animals to anthropomorphic sushi, finally the excellent weirdness we were probably longing for without even knowing it!
Comics and Pop Art
This year, graphic designers are resurrecting the grainy colors, heavy inking, and vintage comics’ action lines. Dot printing, vintage graphic novels language and primitive illustrative techniques will inject new life into modern minimalist trends.
Fine Art Infusion
This year, creatives will blur the lines between art and design like never before. “we are predicting painterly techniques such as acrylic brushstrokes and abstract expressionism will make their way onto shelves and screens across the world,” say at 99designs.
Elements of Nature
“So many of us have felt cooped up in 2020 with COVID and have a strong desire to spend time in green spaces.” Notes Megan Dell, Director of Design at 99designs. “Even looking at photographs of these places can feel soothing if you are stuck in an apartment. I think we’ll see a greater appreciation for these kinds of visuals coming through in 2021.” Expect a bloom of leafy patterns, earth-tone color schemes, or illustrations of breathtaking vistas.
Blur and Grain
Gradients and color transitions will go extreme with more blurry and blended backgrounds. “Add in a grain filter, and these designs manage to walk the line between feeling transitory and real-to-the-touch.” Grainy textures “thrive in gloomier contexts as opposed to the cheery gradients of yesteryear.” Expect a design with a darker side.
Socially Conscious Design
From healthcare to environmentalism to Black Lives Matter to pandemic preparedness, 2020 laid bare the many challenges to come. And everyone must do their part. Designers became strong advocates of social and political messages. Expect a rise in creative hand-lettering that delivers messages of unity, responsibility and advice.
A 99designs recent survey of more than 11,000 freelance designers around the world showed that “around 40% of them reported doing creative work for a social justice organisation or charity and 70% of that work was done pro bono. This kind of generosity in response to the challenges facing the world is really pretty inspiring.” Says Shayne Tilley to Archipanic.