The 20 Hottest Graphic Design Trends 2022 & What to Avoid
Wondering what trends are currently shaking up the world of graphic design? Find out in our latest article!
Candy colors, Y2K, and art déco? All on the same list? If you are ready to get inspired by the latest graphic design trends, you are at the right place for that!
Being a graphic designer is one thing, but keeping up with the latest trends is another. In this article, we are going to cover the hottest graphic design trends (what you can include in your graphic design portfolio) in 2022, plus we will take a look at design techniques you will want to avoid!
Graphic design trends 2022
Now, without further ado, let’s dive right into the chaos of 2022 and see what the biggest graphic trends are.
1. Sustainability and eco-consciousness
Unless you are walking around with your eyes and ears closed, you know that our ecosystem and climate are in danger. Nowadays, consumers and brands pay more attention to waste management while trying to lower their environmental footprint. Therefore, we can find more and more sustainable packaging designs and eco-conscious materials.
2. Inclusivity and diversity
Different movements have their own influence on graphic design as well. In the past years, we experienced a shift in the representation of minority groups, as it has become increasingly important to be more diverse and socially conscious in the business. This means that brands create authentic designs that embrace all voices and perspectives.
3. Retro vibes and value preservation
Taking a long walk down memory lane has always been comforting for human beings. Nostalgia not only helps us in rediscovering trends, but it is also important in value preservation. Eventually, what comes around, goes around.
4. Back to the 90s
We are familiar with the feeling of nostalgia gently caressing our souls. Last year Cobra Kai (or this year the highly popular Stranger Things) brought back the feeling of the 80s. In graphic design, we finally reached the 90s, which is all about Spice Girls and Memphis design patterns.
We can all recognize the 90s through primitive internet frames, bright color blocks, neon colors, and sketchy illustrations. It is not surprising though, that the 90s are here again: those who grew up then, are now in charge of decisions and are bringing back a sense of nostalgia.
5. 2D & 3D mashup
Without question, the most imaginative graphic design trend is 3D, which provides graphic designers plenty of room to dream. We have experienced for many years now that 3D design trends are constantly emerging and growing.
Even adding a simple 3D element to a 2D design can raise interest, but designers are scaling up by bringing highly realistic 3D designs to the table. In 2022, we can see some astonishing examples of 2D and 3D mashups and this cooperation is believed to continue to be fruitful.
6. Tangled typography
Exaggerated sizes, out-of-order lines, and unconventional hierarchies represent typography in 2022. This approach includes two traditional design principles: scale and alignment. The present trend can draw attention and leave behind a memorable and stunning effect. A great example is Squid Game, which ticks all the boxes in tangled typography!
7. Ukiyo-e style
Ukiyo-e is often translated as "pictures as the floating world". Ukiyo-e is a type of woodblock printing and painting, which dates all the way back to the 17th century, in Japan. These designs were minimalistic, with simple line work and then finished with bold outlines.
Ukiyo-e artists depicted scenes from history, people's daily life and nature. Today, it still has an influence on the graphic design world. We can see how the flat, bold-colored and simplistic design is coming back in packaging, logos and posters - all of which are familiar to the vector designers.
8. Candy colors
There is always a need for graphic designers to stand out and eye-catching candy-colors do the job for them. That is why - in the golden era of social media - many brands choose it as a design element.
Candy colors have strong visual power. They grab the viewer's attention, which means they may stop you for a moment while you are browsing on Instagram. Professional designers know how to create powerful visuals with candy colors, while they are still appealing to the eye.
9. Art déco
Art déco is a style of luxury and modernity. Art déco - often referred to only as Deco - is a popular design style that first appeared in France. The philosophy of Art déco is all about dignity. It is unconventional, it can be recognized from its bold outlines and geometric shapes, e.g.: Chicago Board of Trade, or the Great Gatsby. We can often see them on posters, business cards, and websites.
10. Bubble design
Since the 90s are on the list, it is almost mandatory to include bubble shapes. This graphic design trend is all about playfulness and friendliness and reminds us of our high school years when we all sketched these letters into our notebooks. Bubble shapes, curvy typography and circles convey a positive message and vibe. In 2022, we might not see the typical bubble fonts, instead something more extravagant, with vibrant pops of color, bold outlines, and inflated forms.
11. Geometric shapes & doodles
Designers are still channeling their inner child with geometric shapes and doodles. We can see an expanding number of designs featuring doodles and geometric shapes, as they also capture a child-like essence. Geometric shapes work great with images also, so you shouldn't be afraid to blend them together.
12. Parametric patterns
Parametric patterns are not new to graphic design, but this year they have been promoted as the major attraction of the show. Graphic design relies heavily on patterns and shapes. They bring excitement and break the background, giving the illusion of movement and fluidity. Using parametric patterns is a simple way to communicate with complex subjects.
The pandemic forced us to spend most of our time indoors, so it is quite natural that we wish to escape to the outdoors or sometimes to the unknown. Designers - like most creative people - use their imagination to escape.
In 2022, we might see many graphic designs that are tapping into our fantasy world, with many outdoor-inspired details. It is a way for both the viewer and the designer to experience a fantasy world with bright colors, and whimsical character designs. The goal is to lose yourself and escape from reality.
14. Graphics in motion
As we are spending most of our time in the digital world, motion-related designs have also appeared. Movement creates identity and brings stories to life, whether it's a looping gif or an animated short. Sometimes we can experience that static images have a harder time catching our attention. This trend is strengthening in 2022 which is why brands use motion in their design elements. You can find them on packaging design, through QR codes, which when scanned, reveal more information for the consumer.
In 2022 maximalism is one of the biggest graphic design trends. We can describe the maximal design as dominating the chaos, using all the space available, and leaving only a little to the imagination. Maximalism is not about putting everything aimlessly on paper, but about being experimental, and choosing each element carefully. The strengthening of this trend has to do a lot with the influence of the "grandmillenial" interior design trend, as the power of this trend relies on new discoveries. While you are watching, there is always something new to explore.
Y2k itself was between the mid-90s and 2004, but here we are going to focus on the early 2000s. We can all picture the skin-tight dresses, silver-blue eyeshadow, gelled hair, and NSYNC. These years made a tremendous impact on the now 30-somethings, so it is no wonder they reached back to this feeling and materialized it as design. Bubblegum pinks and blues, tropical oranges, shiny whites, and oceanscapes represent this trend, mostly. For the full effect, add a little pop and a lot of techs, and you are all covered!
The past - largely the 60s - nourished this design trend, which now often gets recycled in commercial use. Psychedelic design and psychedelic colors influenced graphic arts for an entire decade, between the mid-1960s and the 1970s. This hippie era is experiencing a renaissance through funky design elements and gripping artwork. This style is in now but also makes us feel nostalgic for simpler times. In 2022, it will portray more symmetry and less chaos.
In the past two years, thanks to the pandemic, we have spent our life following strict rules and regulations. Anti-design protests against following traditions reject convention in favor of innovative layouts and experiments. Asymmetry, chaos, clashing colors and busy compositions don't sound appealing, but somehow, they still work. This trend dominates mostly in-app and web design, but it is expected to spread elsewhere.
20. Branded memes
Branded memes are huge this year. It’s not surprising though everyone loves memes and everything can be turned into a meme. We are all familiar with the feeling of receiving one from our friend, which just fits perfectly with the current situation in our life. Huge brands, like Spotify, or Netflix started to use branded memes, which quickly became viral. The key behind its success is simplicity: nobody wants to spend hours understanding it, you just quickly laugh at a good one.
Graphic design trends to avoid in 2022
Choosing the best graphic design trend can be difficult, so it is crucial that your design choice is well-founded. Trends should always be handled with a little distance and analyzed before using them. Let's see what graphic trends might be hazardous to use in 2022.
Overusing stock photos
Designers often thrive on stock images, however, it is easy to overuse them. Images essentially bring life to designs and they break the monotony, but also it creates the feeling that you were not creative enough to come up with original ideas.
Be mindful of your target audience and the authenticity of a photo when using stock images. Overusing stock photos means that you chose a simpler path, at the expanse of creative denouement. Choosing the right photo, which complements your design, will bring reliability and individuality to your work.
Bold & varied typography
Bold fonts should be used to emphasize a piece of information. However, if you use these fonts extensively, the viewer might end up feeling disoriented.
Varied typography is something that you should be aware of. There is nothing wrong with some experimentation, but don't get too much on your plate. Keeping your styles at a minimum will benefit your design because it exudes harmony.
Filling all the white space
Although we mentioned maximalism above, in some cases using all available space might be a mistake. It often tempts designers to fill the gaps, but there is nothing wrong with leaving some white space, where the eyes of the viewer can rest. Not to mention that it can leave a crowded and baffling impression.
Asymmetrical layouts can ruin the main purpose of the design if it's used recklessly by the designer. Information or text can get lost, or the viewer has to spend a larger amount of time searching for a piece of particular information. Do not forget: time is precious for the viewer. If they can't find the content they are looking for, they switch to another website.
Overuse of gradients
Bigger platforms like Tinder or Instagram often use gradients. However, you may want to approach this design trend with caution. It can be a brilliant method to compliment your design, but only in the right context. They can easily be triggering to the eye and ruin your artwork.
In some designs, dark background themes work effortlessly, but keep in mind to use small lettering styles. In the case of bigger texts, the reader's eyes become weary quickly, so they leave the website or the app.
Being an opportunist
This is not really a trend, more of an attitude you want to avoid if you work as a graphic designer. Being - and staying - authentic, and being aligned with your values, is essential. If you only want to "jump on the train" because you are an opportunist, and the values represented by the trend are not your own, it will quickly become clear to your audience. The key takeaway here is to make sure that your design reflects you and your brand's beliefs accurately.
How to keep up with graphic design trends in 2022?
Design inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. In such a fast-evolving industry as graphic design, it is hard to keep up with the latest trends, especially when we feel overwhelmed by the daily work.
It is definitely beneficial, though, whether you are a seasoned art director or a self-starer. Not only because that way you can keep one eye on other designers, but you can also produce outstanding work for your clients.
Recruiters and hiring managers are always in search of new candidates, and if they see that you are keeping up with the latest trends, it makes a good first impression. Combined with a killer portfolio and a well-written graphic design cover letter, you can count on being remembered.
Besides online platforms, there are other ways to break the monotony and gather inspiration. Here are a few ways you can stay on top of graphic design trends.
As a graphic designer, it is natural that you enjoy visually driven platforms, such as Pinterest or Instagram. During a research period of a project, Pinterest offers plenty of inspiration and limitless possibilities. Pinterest allows users to curate images and videos for their boards, and it makes it a significant source of inspiration.
Instagram is not only for sharing pictures, it's also a great place to get inspired. Create your own Instagram account, follow other accounts you find inspirational, and save pictures and videos to your private collection. It is worth following fellow designers, but inspiration can come in any form: look for photographers, artists or pastry chefs, all of them are creative in their own way.
Taking a walk
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking”.
Taking a walk can boost your creative output by 60% recent studies showed. If you feel there is too much in your head, get up from your desk and take a short walk around the block. This can push the reset button in your mind, especially on stressful days.
Chatting with your friends
Most of the time we chat with insiders, friends and colleagues, and we consume the same news. This can be good for your taste, but if you don't really move out of your comfort zone, you don't get to see other perspectives. The people you surround yourself with have an undeniable impact on your personality. Try to meet up with people from your industry and make some friends, or join Slack groups, where you can have a chat about the latest trends.
Traveling to other countries expands the world around you, and your visual library too. As you immerse yourself in another country's architecture, food and experiences, new doors are opening for you. Find great travel advice on Off Two Wander.
Update your graphic design portfolio
Although a great graphic design portfolio is not a magic tool, it surely can earn you more opportunities, or help you to land your dream job. Updating your graphic design portfolio with the latest trends is a great way to shine out from the crowd!
We are currently working on a portfolio website builder for graphic designers that provides all the features you need to tell your own story. Stay tuned!