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Graphic Design Trends in 2022: A Blend of the Old, the New, and the Purpose-Driven

April 20, 2022
Ferdie L. Eusebio
5 minute read

Graphic design trends are constantly changing. What's popular now may be outdated in a few years, and what is new today will soon be mainstream.

In this blog post, we'll be discussing the graphic design trends that will take off this year, with an emphasis on how companies can implement them right away to stay ahead of the curve!

How Current Events Affect the Design Trends

When graphic design is concerned, no one should be left behind in the game. Companies can remain relevant and up-to-date by following trends in the industry.

The worldwide pandemic has undoubtedly impacted our daily lives, from the simplest things to our deepest emotions. Emotions dictate our decision-making, so if you want to prompt your audience in the right direction, you must understand how to provoke their feelings.

Images can do that. Therefore, if you're going to help your customers decide, you must have an exceptional design.

We felt "secure" before Covid19; we were eager and willing to accept bold designs.

But as our everyday lives now are unpredictable, bordering on being surreal, we want our surroundings to show a sense of calmness, certainty, and clarity overall. It doesn't come as a surprise that simplistic design is back in the game again.

10 Design Trends that are Gaining Ground

As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. Let's embrace it and take a look at all the latest trends in graphic design.

1. 3D Techniques

The most widespread application of this technique is the use of bevels, such as lighting effects and shadows that create an illusion of a third dimension. This can also include using different textures on your design elements or adding depth to illustrations by accentuating parts that are closer in comparison to those that are further away.

This trend has been popularized through graphic software like Adobe Photoshop CC and Sketch. These applications allow designers to quickly build multiple layers and add more detail to their work.

3D design techniques are not new, and it has been used many times before. And yet, augmented and virtual reality seems to only be evolving and upgrading. Designers with 3D design experience are now adding animation and movement to their work.

The 3D areas that will advance this year are:

3D Images

Truth be told, a three-dimensional image can quickly transmit a more significant amount of visual information about a product than a single 2D image can. 3D images come in many forms, from fluffy and puffy to wet and slippery.

These are so satisfying for the eyes that it makes you want to touch them. They're not only more realistic but they can also be animated.

In 2022 we have also seen designers working with many other materials, such as wood, liquid, metal, and concrete models.

3D Typography

While it may not be the perfect solution to readability, 3D typography is fun, beautiful, and catchy for the eyes.

The different forms of 3D typography are popping up all over social media - what was once called out by designers as a "gimmick" is now transforming into a new trend.

This type of typography gives the viewer an immediate sense of depth that's often missing in traditional flat design. It can be used to create some really stunning compositions out of words, numbers, symbols, or any combination thereof.      

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is where digital information overlays the real world so you can see them both at once while virtual reality. One excellent example is IKEA's Place App which allows you to see how a piece of furniture from IKEA's store will look in your space. You can swipe to apply your next furniture choice.

Although this app has been around for a while now, other brands are trying to incorporate augmented reality into their graphic designs to induce people to make online purchases.

Virtual Reality (VR)

This is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that can be interacted with in real-time. VR is now being used to create immersive, virtual shopping experiences for consumers. It is even used in new product promotions.

2. Abstraction Inspired by Psychedelia

This graphic design trend is a cross between the 1960's Psychedelic graphics and the modern minimalist style.

The aesthetic include bold colors, geometric shapes, and patterns. The colors are often neon or vivid, while the figures are usually outlined in black with gradients for shading.

The patterns include organic motifs like vines and trees, which are popular, although more complex designs are emerging as well. Below are some examples of what we mean by "abstract" when designing.

Many different types of abstractions fall under the category of being psychedelic-inspired -- from hand-drawn lines on paper to straight-up computer-generated artwork.

The word itself explains a lot. In Greek, "psyche" means mind, and "delos" means to manifest or awaken. "To awaken the mind" is an apt description of this design trend. The year 2022 is the time to awaken minds, and graphic design does its job perfectly.

3. Geometrical Shapes

Circles, squares, triangles, pentagons, hexagons, you name it! We have seen them before, it is true, but 2022 will be the peak year for geometric shapes in graphic design. It's time to bring them back, and this is the year you can explore their true potential.

They help the brand add consistency, visual structure and therefore creates a sense of congruity. When put together and combined in the best way possible, geometrical shapes can give the simplest design more interesting or give it a sense of being a puzzle.

You can build consistency into your brand identity while still keeping designs fresh and interesting at all times. Geometry offers a variety of tools when it comes to achieving this balance by adding both stability and structure into compositions.

This style reinforces visual hierarchy so designers can ensure viewers focus on important information first; finally, geometrical forms offer a degree of systematic clarity thanks to simple proportions like symmetry or balance.

4. Pale Colors or Radical Monochrome

In graphic design, color is incredibly important to the overall success of a project. Often times designers will either choose a combination of bright and bold colors or they'll opt for more neutral tones with one dominant color that ties everything together.

It is no surprise that during Covid-19, we have encountered more stress than we can ever imagine. Some people even dealt with anxiety issues, which is why graphic design trends in 2022 are going for palettes that evoke a sense of calmness and relaxation, which is why pale and pastel are also showing signs of a comeback.

This year we've been nostalgic as well and realized it is essential to cherish those unforgettable get-togethers with our loved ones. Black-and-white designs help in this aspect. Monochrome is now the best way to be edgy and yet invoke a positive emotion.

There are pros and cons to applying these methods, but it all boils down to how it affects your brand identity. It also matters how much time you have on hand since these styles require different levels of work depending on the complexity.

5. Nature-Related Designs

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order. —John Burroughs

This quote reminds us how this year we were restricted from nature escapes, and we couldn't go outside to recharge as we used to. In this case, seeing a nature design or picture would make us feel better. Now more than ever, we need a "mountain to come to us." Bringing the outside in attracts more audiences than they used to.

Audiences will develop a better appreciation for nature-related designs this year, making it highly likely to be a trend in 2022. We've seen more and more people try to get away from city life by getting lost on a hiking trip or even just looking at pictures of it. That is the reason why nature-inspired, clean design will be a key takeaway in designs. We do believe that this will continue for a good while, even beyond 2022.

6. Emojis

Emojis are the lingua franca for the digital era. They're everywhere and so often relatable.

According to this article on Emojipedia, emojis have been increasing in popularity since they were first introduced with Unicode Version One — a standard encoding system that assigns codes to all characters used across many different languages.

The company reports that there was "a dramatic increase" between 2015 and 2017, with an average of 50% more people using emoji each year. We've also seen new developments when it comes to these little graphic icons as graphics designers try their hand at designing them too!

Has it ever occurred to you that when you see a happy emoji, they seem to bring your bad mood up? This is a much-needed mood lifter that we need right now, making it a prominent feature in many creatives that want to generate a positive vibe for their audiences.

7. Cartoon Illustrations

If your aim is to add playfulness to your design, cartoon designs are the answer. Brands can use fun illustrations to create a more memorable and exciting experience for customers.

In recent years, cartoon illustrations have seen a resurgence in popularity. In the design world, they are used to bring life and personality into logos and websites. They evoke the same feelings as childhood memories like watching Looney Tunes or Disney movies; this feeling is nostalgic and encourages people to buy products that are attached to the cartoon.

The use of animated cartoon GIFs has also increased over time - with many popular brands using them across their social media channels for marketing purposes.

Cartoon characters are excellent at dialing down an opposing mood and quickly capturing the attention of people who come across them.

However, some paper studies show how these figures may not be appropriate for all age groups. If you are using this for your brand, make sure it matches your target audience; else it will be counterproductive.

8. Blurring and Grit

Blur and grit are two popular design techniques that will be a focus in 2022. Blurring is the practice of using a tool to create an out-of-focus effect. This can be done with digital software or when shooting photos on film.

Grit is the use of textures and elements that give off a rough or grainy feeling. It's often apparent in dark textured backgrounds, which contrast light-colored foregrounds.

Foreground elements such as striking typography or suggestive imagery can pop against an obscure background with this trend. It also thrives in darker content, as opposed to the brighter colors prevalent throughout the past decade.

This trend is an artistic mood, and we presume that we’ll see more of it as the style becomes popular with graphic designers looking for a darker look.

9. Socially conscious and values-based design

With the majority of graphic designers now integrating corporate responsibility and social awareness into their design, it is becoming more of a staple than a simple uptrend this year.

2020 was the year that we owned up to what needed fixing. From the issues of health care to climate change, from Black Lives Matter to preparedness against pandemics, 2021 made it clear that global change is essential. This year hopefully, the conflict and problems we experienced will just be a turning point as long as people do their part.

In 2022, we'll see a new wave of designs and imagery resonating with the latest movement or social and environmental concerns. Designers have always been about crafting a message with visual aesthetics in mind - but now that the world is evolving alongside design trends, it's becoming more of a critical responsibility than just surface-level decoration.

10. Inclusive Design

Designers are now incorporating diversity into their designs. This means that racial, ethnic, religious, and differently-abled representation in visuals will be more prevalent.

Designers also want to make their designs as inclusive as possible so they can reach the widest audience possible. By making it easier for people with disabilities or those who speak another language to navigate a website design through better typography choices, designers are ensuring their work is accessible by everyone.

On top of this trend towards inclusivity within graphic design trends, we're seeing an emphasis on diversity from clients themselves, who are now becoming open to socially conscious and inclusive themes.

Conclusion on the Design Trends of 2022

As we can see, graphic design trends in 2022 are going to be focused on serenity, nature, diversity, and representation. Designers want their work to be inclusive so they can reach a wide audience, while companies and businesses also want more racially diverse representations of themselves out there for the general public to see.

That's where Instacap can help. This tool helps ensure that your design will always be in line with the goals of the business and represents them well.

And with many clients now wanting socially conscious creatives by designers, this will lead us to what's trending right now in the world of graphic design: more impact and fewer distractions.

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