Calling all graphic designers, artists, creative strategists, and even you Canva masters (I see you) - I know you’ve been up all night tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling as this thought haunts your brain: what design aesthetics will be trending in 2021? Well, I’ve been there too (Wait, I’m the only one? Oh cool). I’m here to help answer all your questions.
The first thing that you might want to consider including in your designs are muted colors. 2020 was a scary year to say the very least. It was full of uncertainty - from the effects of the Coronavirus, political turmoil, to the upcoming election (hey you know what’s really cool? voting!), and so much more. This year, life threw obstacle upon obstacle in our path. So generally, we want 2021 to be a lot less hectic. This reflects in design and aesthetic choices in graphic design. In all the chaos and noise of this past year, the relaxed and understated vibe of muted colors is the way to go. If you’re not sure what I mean by muted colors, they’re basically just vivid colors that have their edge taken off by an infusion of white, black, or a complementary color. Muted colors feel safe, serene, and even nostalgic sometimes - it’s like wrapping yourself up in a fluffy blanket and binge-watching I Love Lucy reruns by the fire - which is definitely what we need after this whirlwind of a year. Pro Tip: a great tool to use to come up with compatible color pairings is coolors.co!
simple data visualizations
Continuing this overall idea of “back to basics,” another predicted design trend is simple data visualizations. More than ever, content consumers are taking bigger strides toward being more informed politically, scientifically, and socially. Infographics are on the rise, and when they are straightforward and simple, consumers are more likely to understand and share these types of content. Seriously, when’s the last time you tapped through your Instagram story and didn’t see an infographic shared from someone you followed? Exactly! The 2020 Reuters Institute Digital News report found the use of Instagram for news had doubled since 2018, and this trend is strongest among Gen-Z. It said nearly a quarter of 18-24-year-olds use Instagram as a source of news about the coronavirus (BBC). Social media users are using their voice to better inform themselves and others on what’s going on in the world - and us graphic designers are making it that much easier by creating shareable and informative content. This trend will definitely continue to dominate in 2021 as younger generations (like our favorite Gen-Z!) continue to take a stand for what they believe in.
Geometric shapes and lines should get the spotlight next year as well. Looking back on these up and coming trends, this is no surprise. Geometric shapes are the definition of “back to basics” as they bring us back to learning shapes back in elementary school. They can add order, consistency, and structure to a visual - which are all things we definitely need in our lives right now. Additionally, lines are the fundamental building block of graphic design. From vertical to horizontal, parallel to perpendicular, zig-zag to curved, dotted to dashed, the variety of line designs is seemingly endless! You can use lines to add style, enhance comprehension, create forms, and divide space.
Last but not least, what’s a graphic design article without a font discussion? I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a love-hate relationship with fonts. Sometimes I just can’t seem to find the right font to perfectly convey the visual I have in my mind. However, you can’t go wrong with a Serif font and luckily, they are actually trending! Serif fonts are simple, classic, and elegant. If you’re like me and you sometimes get confused on what the difference is between a Serif and Sans Serif font: Serif has the fancy little edges on the tops and bottoms of letters, while Sans Serif does not! Serif fonts are your Times New Roman vibes that have been around since the 15th century (that’s older than a boomer! haha jk). Because they’re old af and are usually more professional and credible, they give off a trustworthy and nostalgic vibe. Going back to our roots in design is the best thing for all of us right now since we are looking for more authenticity in our crazy “fake news” culture. Serif fonts give us the opportunity to be classy and elegant, something we haven’t been able to do since COVID.
All in all, I think we can agree that we are excited for what 2021 will bring - from new beginnings, (hopefully) the revival of life as we know it, AND of course some awesome graphic design trends. It’s pretty cool to see how culture is reflected in our art and design, even if it’s in something as simple as a font choice. Next time you have artist's block, think about how your designs can relate to what’s going on in the world. Your designs should reflect exactly what you feel or want others to feel. Happy creating my friends!