2021 Graphic Design Trends

Designing on a stylist

Last updated on March 2nd, 2023 at 04:26 pm

With every new year comes a fresh start and a new set of graphic design trends. Last year’s trends were driven by the dawn of a new decade and inspired by futuristic and sci-fi technology. While we can still expect to see similar ones this year, we can also expect graphic design trends that are putting people first. Let’s dive deeper into what the 2021 graphic design trends will bring us.

No Peace sign

1. Socially conscious design

2020 was the year of social movements, with everyone taking to social media to voice their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and more. Everyone from celebrities to influencers and even designers are able to share their work with the world, further influencing design trends. Graphic designers are stepping up. You are seeing more and more brands connecting with their audience on a deeper level by addressing current issues on social media. Also known as protest art, you’ll continue to see designs resonating with social or environmental issues in the new year.

Woman with emoji balloon in front of their face

2. Emoji design

Since the dawn of smartphones and the rise in popularity of communicating by text, emojis have slowly begun to take over. Emojis make it easier to convey underlying feelings with a message via text and are often included in texts and emails to avoid being misconstrued. You also see emojis pop up as automatic responses to social media features such as stories on Instagram. Ever notice how when you go to respond to someone’s story post, you are greeted with a series of emojis you can choose to respond with, ranging from hearts to crying faces, allowing you to instantly and easily react however you find appropriate. Emojis are now making their way into design, as they make it even easier to convey messages. The only thing you’ll want to keep in mind with this trend is that you will want to get creative with how you use emojis. Try to think of new ways to incorporate them in your design that you have not seen before because emojis are everywhere these days. 

Plant leaf

3. Nature inspired design

Though we have been seeing a lot of trends including loud neon colors over the years, organic and natural graphic design trends have slowly been on the rise, and this is their year. Given the fact that most of the world spent a majority of 2020 cooped up inside, it comes as no surprise that everyone is craving some nature and fresh air. Whether you see patterns resembling leaves and flowers, or just a lot of green, these designs pulling inspiration from nature are evoking feelings of tranquility and peace, which are much appreciated when you’ve been stuck inside away from nature for extended periods of time.

3D geometric drawing

4. 3D design

3D design has been making a comeback as people find new ways to incorporate it without looking like they are creating the same old thing. While this was a popular graphic design trend last year, it looks like it is here to stay for 2021 as well. Though this trend may not be new, it continues to evolve and look different every year. Augmented and virtual reality technology has enabled designers to take their 3D designs even further, creating lifelike images that are slowly taking center stage in the world of graphic design.

A person painting blue design

5. Fine art design

2021 is all about pushing boundaries, even when it comes to graphic design traditions. Fine art and design have historically been kept separate, but these days you are seeing more and more designs incorporating fine art elements such as acrylic brushstrokes. Incorporating design elements such as paint strokes in your design will give the illusion of texture which works well with physical products. Fine art is often associated with elegance, making it a good design technique to use for products that are trying to convey class. 

Picture frame with the word whatever in a chaotic design

6. Chaotic typography design

This graphic design trend seems pretty appropriate for the current state of affairs. Breaking all of the rules, chaotic typography ditches text and letter alignment, creating a, you guessed it, chaotic visual of text. While it can be difficult to read at first, it does draw you in. When done tastefully, this design trend can be attention grabbing. Unconventional is a great word to describe this trend because you can bet you won’t see typography like this in your everyday reading.

Geometric triangle

7. Retro futurism inspired

Most people thought we would have robots and flying cars by 2020. While we may not have those, we do still see a lot of sci-fi inspired design elements. This style is popular due to the optimistic look of the future it portrays. With this trend, you are bound to see bright color palettes with computer-inspired fonts and curves that can’t help but make us feel as though we are in the future when we look at them. Retro futurists believed in positive human progress, which is what these designs typically aim to convey.

pink, yellow, and orange color gradiant

8. Blur and grain effects

Over the years, color gradients have gained a lot of popularity in graphic design. Now, designers are looking for different and unique ways to incorporate them in their designs. One of these ways is adding grain filters and blur effects to blend the gradients with the background. This makes it easier for images, bold typefaces and other design elements to pop and attract more attention. Pair this trend with darker gloomier colors and you will find yourself with a strong design.

Graphic design trends are always fun to experiment with, but don’t limit yourself to just the popular ones. Play around and see what works for you. While you may find something successful for one design, it may not work with another one, but thankfully there are no limits to what you can do. Let these trends inspire you to push your design boundaries this year.

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